Tony Perkins / October 30, 2020

Big Tech: ‘The Single Greatest Threat to Free Speech in America’

Republicans and Democrats have news for America’s social media moguls — the squirming has just begun.

If you thought Google’s cryfest after Donald Trump’s election was extreme, wait a few months. Sundar Pichai’s company could be on the verge of real anguish — and not because of who wins. If you thought bipartisanship in Washington was dead, Wednesday’s Senate hearing should have made it clear: there’s one thing the two sides agree on, and that’s reining in Big Tech. They may have different motives, but Republicans and Democrats have news for America’s social media moguls — the squirming has just begun. Unfortunately for conservatives, it will be too late. The damage in this election cycle has already been done.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey have taken turns on the congressional hot seat before. But fresh off of their latest election interference, GOP senators were done playing nice. One after another they lit into the trio for trying to silence the breaking news about Hunter Biden’s corrupt business deals. “Both Twitter and Facebook took steps to block or limit access to the story,” committee chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) argued. “Facebook, according to its Policy Communications Manager, began ‘reducing its distribution on [the] platform’ pending a third-party fact check. Twitter went beyond that, blocking all users — including the House Judiciary Committee — from sharing the article on feeds and through direct messages. Twitter even locked the New York Post’s account entirely, claiming the story included ‘hacked materials’ and was ‘potentially harmful.’”

How is it, several Republicans demanded, that Twitter can blackout information it believes is suspect about the Bidens, but leaves every lie and conspiracy theory about President Trump untouched? It’s a double standard, Wicker said angrily. Big Tech doesn’t mind the wide distribution of a suspect New York Times story about the amount of taxes the president has paid, but it is literally tripping over itself to suppress negative news about Hunter Biden. This wasn’t, as Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) fired back, “just some random guy tweeting [about Hunter]. The New York Post has the fourth-highest circulation of any newspaper in America. [It’s] 200 years old… and your position is that you can sit in Silicon Valley and [tell] them what stories they can publish?” And the same goes for the American people, Cruz went on, “you can tell them what reporting they can hear, is that right?”

Neither Jack Dorsey (or his beard) had a good answer for that. In fact, he looked physically uncomfortable when Republicans brought up Twitter’s Global Leaders Policy, which is how they justify blacking out Donald Trump’s tweets while other world leaders post violent things without objection. Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for the destruction of Israel, many pointed out — and somehow that doesn’t violate the company’s policy? “We did not find those to violate our terms of service,” Dorsey replied, “because we consider them saber-rattling, which is part of the speech of world leaders in concert with other countries.” The president’s tweets, he claimed, are much more dangerous.

That’s ridiculous, Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) argued. “Your companies are inconsistently applying the rules with an obvious bias. Your companies are censoring free speech. You target the president, the White House press secretary, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group, while giving dictators a free, unfettered platform.” Together, they’re nothing but a “democratic Super PAC,” Cruz railed. Then, turning to Dorsey, he asked, “Does Twitter have the ability to influence elections?” “No,” Jack answered. If you think that, Cruz fired back, “Why do you block anything?”

Even Democrats like Senators Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Jacky Rosen (Nev.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) agreed that it was time to revisit the liability shield that’s given these companies immunity. “If nothing else,” one commentator wrote, you couldn’t walk away from the hearing without noticing the “bipartisan dislike and mistrust of social media platforms and a desire to do something about them.”

That’ll be a “rude awakening” for these companies, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) said on radio Wednesday, especially since they’ve been working so hard to get Democrats elected. “I think they’re going to be in the crosshairs of both parties [after the election]… There’s going to be major congressional action” to take away a lot of the legal protection they’ve enjoyed. “That’s going to hurt their bottom line,” Comer warned. “And I think they’ll regret… their bias toward conservatives.”

But right now, he pointed out, “the Democrats are honestly in a win-win situation. They have [these platforms] banning any type of news that would harm Joe Biden… But at the same time… in six and a half months, [Democrats] are going to turn their backs on Big Tech [and regulate them] to break up the monopoly.” If they do, and Republicans team up with them to hold Silicon Valley accountable, those companies won’t look anything like they do now. Twitter, Facebook, Google — they’ll all be ravaged by trial attorneys. And not one conservative will mind. Collectively, Cruz warned, these companies pose “the single greatest threat to free speech in America, and the greatest threat we have to free and fair elections.” They must be stopped.

Originally published here.

In Philly, Coordinated Terrorism Becomes Reality

The people of Philadelphia woke up Thursday morning to more ransacked businesses, broken glass, and reports of more arrests. After three nights of unrest, police tried to lock down the city with a 9 p.m. curfew, but even that didn’t stop a series of ATM explosions and more looting. As many as 200 storefronts have been hit in a wave of crime and destruction that’s making the city council’s $33 million in police cuts look like an example of what not to do.

Back in June, when liberals — including Joe Biden — were arguing to strip away funds from the police, Philadelphia was one of the areas that made drastic cuts. Now, heading into day four of a riot that could level the city of so-called Brotherly Love, suddenly the Left’s rally cry is being exposed for what it is: dangerous to communities and deadly to the economy.

Wednesday, the decision looked even more foolish, when law enforcement stumbled on a van filled with explosives, propane, torches, and other coordinated riot equipment. Suddenly, the cries of “justice for Walter Wallace” have all the familiar fingerprints of another organized city takeover from the likes of Antifa and Black Lives Matter. It’s “open-source network insurgency,” undercover reporters at the Daily Caller say. This isn’t a spontaneous reaction to the incident involving Wallace — it’s a well-planned terror attack designed to bring more chaos and anarchy to our streets.

“Across the country, we’re seeing horrific violence. We’re seeing our country torn apart. Violent anarchists and Marxists are exploiting protests to transform them into riots and direct assaults on the lives and safety of their fellow Americans,” Senator Ted Cruz has argued. These are not “mere coincidences.” These are acts “designed to instill fear and tear down the fundamental institutions of government.”

In one especially tragic story, an entire church was burned to the ground in Philadelphia — a “total loss,” the distraught pastor said. The Vietnamese Baptist Church had been in the same spot for 15 years, serving as a community center for locals who needed immigration help, marriage counseling, or tax filing. “I have no idea why they attacked our church,” Pastor Philip Pham told reporters. “They threw flammable chemicals on the roof and [flames] burned through the roof” and on down. Almost nothing remains — except a portion of a single hard drive that he’d prayed God would protect.

Some people think the targeting of churches like Pham’s is random. It isn’t. These radical extremists know that the church is one of the only things standing between America and their goal of burning Western civilization and its Christian origins to the ground. This election is their best shot at a revolution. And there are a lot of parallels, Larry Taunton explained on “Washington Watch,” to what happened in places like the Soviet Union and what’s happening right here in the United States.

Fortunately, he pointed out, “The United States government has many more institutional pillars. And those are the family, our tradition, our patriotism, the church — which is the key institutional pillar — our government, our laws. [These rioters] seek through cultural Marxism to penetrate all of those and to rock them from within. And that’s what we’re seeing.” Nothing about this is happenstance. There is a driving, evil, destructive force behind what’s happening on our streets. And we need to heed the words of Pastor Pham, who said (quoting James 1:20) “The anger of man does not bring about the righteousness of God.”

Even today, despite the catastrophic loss, his faith hasn’t wavered. “Just trust God,” he said. “Do right. Don’t copy [those who practice violence] but do what the Bible says and what He wants us to do. Love them and pray for them that they may know Christ, that the Holy Spirit may convict them, and they may seek God.” In the end, that’s what it will take to save our country: faith, courage, and truth. Not fear.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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