US government defends ‘Ministry of Truth’ — RT World News

https://www.rt.com/news/554834-mayorkas-dhs-disinformation-unit/

The newly unveiled ‘Disinformation Governance Board’, operating
within the US Department of Homeland Security, has triggered a massive
pushback, forcing DHS chief Alejandro Mayorkas to make several
appearances on national TV in an attempt to clarify how the unit will
operate.

Many critics, including top Republicans, have blasted the
initiative as a crackdown on free speech, akin to a ‘Ministry of Truth’
taken from the pages of George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘1984’.

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Mayorkas dismissed the criticism by claiming that thought policing is “precisely the opposite of what this small working group within the Department of Homeland Security will do.”

“What
it will do is gather together best practices in addressing the threat
of disinformation from foreign state adversaries from the cartels and
disseminate those best practices to the operators that have been
executing in addressing this threat for years,” he explained, after CNN’s Dana Bash said it was still not clear “how this governance board will act.”

New Jan. 6 Bodycam Videos Show DC Police Officer Assaulting Unconscious Protester

https://www.nationandstate.com/2022/04/29/new-jan-6-bodycam-videos-show-dc-police-officer-assaulting-unconscious-protester/?amp
New Jan. 6 Bodycam Videos Show DC Police Officer Assaulting Unconscious Protester Authored by Joseph M. Hanneman via The Epoch Times, A District of Columbia police officer used a large wooden stick to strike the body and head of protester Rosanne Boyland three times as she lay motionless on the ground on Jan. 6, 2021, according…

Is Twitter “Burning The Evidence” By Unshackling Conservative Accounts?

https://www.nationandstate.com/2022/04/28/is-twitter-burning-the-evidence-by-unshackling-conservative-accounts/?amp
Is Twitter “Burning The Evidence” By Unshackling Conservative Accounts? Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News, Conservative Twitter users have noticed a massive uptick in followers and engagement following Elon Musk’s Twitter buy, while leftists on the platform are experiencing the inverse, prompting some to wonder if the company is undoing evidence that it rigged…

“Better Off Just Keeping His Mouth Shut”: University of Central Florida Hit With Major Free Speech Ruling – JONATHAN TURLEY

https://jonathanturley.org/2022/04/27/better-off-just-keeping-his-mouth-shut-university-of-central-florida-hit-with-major-free-speech-ruling/

There is a major victory for free speech out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit this week. An appellate panel ruled that the discriminatory-harassment and bias response team policies at the University of Central Florida (UCF) likely violate the First Amendment. The policies have many of the common ambiguous terms discussed on this blog from other schools as chilling free speech. The decision in Speech First v. Cartwright also contains an unenviable reliance on UCF’s own counsel for proving that his client is curtailing free speech.

Speech First filed the lawsuit last year and the case was heard by Senior U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell who rejected Speech First’s arguments on the discriminatory-harassment policy. He also ruled the group did not have legal standing to challenge the bias-related incidents policy.

The appeals court overturned Presnell’s rejection of a preliminary injunction against UCF’s harassment policy and ordered the district court to consider the constitutionality of UCF’s bias response team.

In the 38-page opinion, Judge Kevin Newsom wrote that the UCF policy “objectively chills speech because its operation would cause a reasonable student to fear expressing potentially unpopular beliefs.” Newsom added (with agreement from Judges Stanley Marcus and Richard Story) that “Given the discriminatory-harassment policy’s astonishing breadth — and slipperiness — we think it clear that a reasonable student could fear that his speech would get him crossways with the university, and that he’d be better off just keeping his mouth shut.”

The court noted that terms used in the policies defy clear meaning as triggers for violations:

“No reasonable college student wants to run the risk of being accused of ‘offensive,’ ‘hostile,’ ‘negative,’ or ‘harmful’ conduct — let alone hate or bias. Nor would the average college student want to run the risk that the university will ‘track’ her, ‘monitor’ her, or mount a ‘comprehensive response’ against her.”

However, it was the court’s reliance on appellate counsel that was so notable in this case. What was notable was that it was defense counsel being cited by the court:

“To take just one example, what does it mean for one student’s speech to ‘unreasonably . . . alter[]’ another student’s educational experience? Both terms—’unreasonably’ and ‘alter[]’—are pretty amorphous, their application would likely vary from one student to another, and the University’s totality-of-known-circumstances approach to determining whether particular speech crosses the line only makes matters worse. To be clear, these concerns aren’t speculative. At oral argument, we asked the University’s lawyer a series of questions about whether particular statements would violate the discriminatory-harassment policy: (1) ‘abortion is immoral’; (2) ‘unbridled open immigration is a danger to America on a variety of levels’; and (3) ‘the Palestinian movement is antisemitic.’ To his considerable credit—but to the policy’s considerable discredit—he candidly acknowledged that while ‘it d[id] not sound to [him]’ like the speech would be proscribed under the policy, he couldn’t say for sure because ‘the university will consider all the facts and circumstances there’ and because he couldn’t ‘prejudge everything.’ Oral Arg. at 28:43–33:55. If UCF’s own attorney—as one intimately familiar with the University’s speech policies—can’t tell whether a particular statement would violate the policy, it seems eminently fair to conclude that the school’s students can’t either.”

Here is the decision: Speech First v. Cartwright

EU Puts Elon Musk On Notice Over Free Speech Plans For Twitter – Nwo Report

https://nworeport.me/2022/04/26/eu-puts-elon-musk-on-notice-over-free-speech-plans-for-twitter/

Source: ZERO HEDGE

EU commissioner Thierry Breton told the Financial Times that Musk must follow rules on moderating illegal and harmful content online, since words have been elevated to ‘sticks & stones’ when it comes to the dangers of modern life.

House Republicans order Twitter to preserve all documents related to Elon Musk takeover bid – Nwo Report

https://nworeport.me/2022/04/23/house-republicans-order-twitter-to-preserve-all-documents-related-to-elon-musk-takeover-bid/

The preservation request is part of Congress’s examination of “how to best protect Americans’ free speech rights.”

Source: Tom Parker

18 House Judiciary Republicans have formally requested that Twitter preserve all documents and communications related to Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s offer to buy Twitter.

In letters sent to Twitter board members, the House Republicans say the document preservation requests are part of Congress’s continued examination of Big Tech and “how to best protect Americans’ free speech rights.”

The letters add that the outcome of Musk’s proposed takeover could lead to “renewed efforts to legislate in furtherance of preserving free expression online.”

Facebook Wiped A Conservative Wisconsin News Page After Wrongfully Censoring It For Months – Nwo Report

https://nworeport.me/2022/04/22/facebook-wiped-a-conservative-wisconsin-news-page-after-wrongfully-censoring-it-for-months/

Source: Jordan Boyd

‘Every American should be deeply concerned by the fact that a few unaccountable big tech companies are controlling the free flow of information.’

acebook obliterated an award-winning conservative Wisconsin news page and cut off thousands of its followers without warning this week after wrongfully censoring it for months.

The Silicon Valley giant censored Wisconsin Right Now after the popular news site posted a story from The Australian to its Facebook feed that compared a picture of the infamous “Falling Man” from 9/11 to the horrific footage of Afghans falling from planes following President Joe Biden’s disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

TRENDING: The 2020 Loss — A Blessing In Disguise?

Facebook quickly hid the post and slapped it with a community standards violation for “content related to suicide or self-injury.”

WRN appealed the violation, noting that the article did not advocate for self-harm, and Facebook reversed its decision but still unpublished WRN’s page.

A message from Facebook claimed that WRN “violates Facebook Pages terms” but did not specify why. The Big Tech company claimed that WRN could appeal if the unpublishing seemed to be a mistake but the link given by Facebook’s support team is broken.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

“Every American should be deeply concerned by the fact that a few unaccountable big tech companies are controlling the free flow of information in our democracy, and that the decisions they make are often arbitrary and unfair,” Jim Piwowarczyk, WRN owner and contributor, told The Federalist. “What has happened to us is a very troubling example of this, and we call on Facebook to reverse its decision.”

Even before Facebook nuked WRN’s main page, the social media company restricted the page’s ability to invite new followers to “like” the page and live-stream videos for simply reporting the news.

Even though WRN won numerous awards for its airtight coverage of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, Facebook limited the news site’s ability to share articles about the young gunman.

“We led coverage on this case, going to the scene, interviewing witnesses a half-hour after it happened, uncovering missing ballistics evidence mentioned during the trial, and more,” Piwowarczyk explained.

Facebook still suppressed WRN’s coverage even after the media company published an analysis stating the firearm charge against Rittenhouse wouldn’t stand under Wisconsin gun laws, something the judge presiding over the case publicly ruled one day later.

“Facebook then did not remove the violations when Rittenhouse was acquitted,” Piwowarczyk said.

Facebook also enlisted the help of its fake “fact-checkers” to censor reposts about Hillary Clinton’s role in promoting the Russian collusion hoax and a meme about Rittenhouse playing video games with his judge.

“We have reported many stories the mainstream media will not, and it is highly questionable and troubling that Facebook would seek to prevent Wisconsin voters in a key battleground state (where Facebook-traced money was involved in elections) from learning all sides of the equation in the political debate and other news stories, especially as the midterm elections loom,” Piwowarczyk said.

‘Explosive’ Legal Agreement With U.S. Lets Wuhan Lab Destroy Data | Aletho News

Comment by tonytran2015: So the way to escape scrutiny is to contract a foreign entity to do most parts of the work.

https://alethonews.com/2022/04/21/explosive-legal-agreement-with-u-s-lets-wuhan-lab-destroy-data/

By Emily Kopp | U.S. Right to Know | April 20, 2022

The Wuhan Institute of Virology has the right to ask a partnering lab in the U.S. to destroy all records of their work, according to a legal document obtained by U.S. Right to Know.

A memorandum of understanding between the Wuhan lab and the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch states that each lab can ask the other to return or “destroy” any so-called “secret files” — any communications, documents, data or equipment resulting from their collaboration — and ask that they wipe any copies.

In Rare Move, Russian Billionaire Tinkov Slams ‘Crazy War’ Against Ukraine |rferl

https://www.rferl.org/a/31813190.html

In Rare Move, Russian Billionaire Tinkov Slams ‘Crazy War’ Against Ukraine

Oleg Tinkov in 2018
A Russian oligarch has written a scathing assessment of President
Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine, touching a nerve on social media
where it has attracted tens of thousands of likes in just one day.

Writing on Instagram, Oleg Tinkov said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
and the “crazy war” that has followed has no benefit, a rare break from
one of the country’s billionaires who gathered their wealth under Putin
and have remained mostly silent since Moscow launched what it calls a
“special military operation” on February 24.

“I don’t see ANY beneficiary of this crazy war! Innocent people and
soldiers are dying,” he wrote in the post, dated April 19, which had
almost 120,000 likes less than a day later.

Tinkov’s comments come after Russian forces, which were largely
bogged down in much of the country, retreated and redeployed in the east
and south, mostly along the Black Sea coast.

During their invasion, Russian forces have been accused by Human
Rights Watch and many others of committing war crimes and atrocities in
occupied areas of the Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kyiv regions.

The invasion also has forced more than 5 million Ukrainians to flee the country.

Tinkov, a financier worth $3.5 billion according to the Bloomberg
Billionaire Index, is one of the few oligarchs so far to have expressed
concerns over Moscow’s invasion, even as he and dozens of others have
been hit with sanctions from the West aimed at putting pressure on the
Kremlin and those around Putin.

Last month, tycoon Oleg Deripaska, known for his close ties with
Putin, said on Twitter that the war in Ukraine must be stopped as soon
as possible.

But Tinkov’s criticism runs far deeper.

“The generals are waking up with a hangover and realizing that they
had a shitty army,” Tinkov wrote, adding that with rampant nepotism
making “everything else in the country shit,” the state of the army
shouldn’t be a surprise.

“Kremlin officials are shocked that not only they, but also their
children, will not go to the Mediterranean in the summer. Businessmen
are trying to save the rest of their property,” he added.

Tinkov also took aim at those “morons” using the symbol Z — used by
Russian armed forces to mark their vehicles and equipment — as they
represent only 10 percent of the country and that the other 90 percent
of Russians “are AGAINST this war!”

“Dear ‘collective West,’ please give Mr. Putin a clear exit to save
his face and stop this massacre,” he wrote at the end of the text.

Twitter Faces the “Nightmare” of Being Forced into Free Speech – JONATHAN TURLEY

https://jonathanturley.org/2022/04/18/twitter-faces-the-nightmare-of-being-forced-into-free-speech/

Below is my column in the Hill on the bid of Elon Musk to buy Twitter and its implications for free speech. The increasingly alarmist arguments of the left have continued to mount. On MSNBC, Democratic strategist Danielle Moodie declared “I’m going to be honest, Elon Musk is a danger to Twitter and to freedom of speech.” In other words, more free speech is the death of free speech. She is not alone in such Orwellian takes on the Musk bid for Twitter.

Here is the column:

Twitter’s board of directors gathered this week to sign what sounds like a suicide pact. It unanimously voted to swallow a “poison pill” to tank the value of the social media giant’s shares rather than allow billionaire Elon Musk to buy the company.

The move is one way to fend off hostile takeovers, but what is different in this case is the added source of the hostility: Twitter and many liberals are apoplectic over Musk’s call for free speech protections on the site.

Company boards have a fiduciary duty to do what is best for shareholders, which usually is measured in share values. Twitter has long done the opposite. It has virtually written off many conservatives — and a large portion of its prospective market — with years of arbitrary censorship of dissenting views on everything from gender identity to global warming, election fraud and the pandemic. Most recently, Twitter suspended a group, Libs of Tik Tok, for “hateful conduct.” The conduct? Reposting what liberals have said about themselves.

The company seemingly has written off free speech too. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal was asked how Twitter would balance its efforts to combat misinformation with wanting to “protect free speech as a core value” and to respect the First Amendment. He responded dismissively that the company is “not to be bound by the First Amendment” and will regulate content as “reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation.” Agrawal said the company would “focus less on thinking about free speech” because “speech is easy on the internet. Most people can speak. Where our role is particularly emphasized is who can be heard.”

Not surprisingly, selling censorship is not a big hit with most consumers, particularly from a communications or social media company. The actions of Twitter’s management have led to roller-coastering share values. While Twitter once reached a high of about $73 a share, it is currently around $45. (Musk was offering $54.20 a share, representing a 54 percent premium over the share price the day before he invested in the company.)

Notably, Musk will not trigger the poison pill if he stays below 15 percent ownership of the company. He could push his present stake up to 14.9 percent and then negotiate with other shareholders to take greater control.

Another problem is that Twitter long sought a private buyer under former CEO Jack Dorsey. If Musk increases his bid closer to $60, the board could face liability in putting its interests ahead of the company’s shareholders.

Putting aside the magical share number, Musk is right that the company’s potential has been constrained by its woke management. For social media companies, free speech is not only ethically but economically beneficial — because the censorship model only works if you have an effective monopoly in which customers have no other choice. That is how Henry Ford could tell customers, back when he controlled car-making, that they could have any color of Model T “as long as it’s black.”

Of course, the Model T’s color was not a critical part of the product. On the other hand, Twitter is a communications company selling censorship — and opposing free speech as a social media company is a little like Ford opposing cars.

The public could be moving beyond Twitter’s Model T philosophy, however, with many people looking for access to an open, free forum for discussions.

Censorship — or “content modification,” as used in polite company — is not value maximizing for Twitter, but it is status enhancing for executives such as Agrawal. It does not matter that consumers of his product want less censorship; the company has become captive to its executives’ agendas.

Twitter is not alone in pursuing such self-defeating values. Many in the mainstream media and many on the left have become some of the loudest advocates for corporate censorship. The Washington Post’s Max Boot, for example, declared, “For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.” MSNBC’s Katy Tur warned that reintroducing free speech values on Twitter could produce “massive, life- and globe-altering consequences for just letting people run wild on the thing.”

Columnist and former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich went full Orwellian in explaining why freedom is tyranny. Reich dismissed calls for free speech and warned that censorship is “necessary to protect American democracy.” He then delivered a line that would make Big Brother blush: “That’s Musk’s dream. And Trump’s. And Putin’s. And the dream of every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron on Earth. For the rest of us, it would be a brave new nightmare.”

The problem comes when you sell fear for too long and at too high a price. Recently, Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) agreed with MSNBC analyst John Heilemann that Democrats have to “scare the crap out of [voters] and get them to come out.”

That line is not selling any better for the media than it is for social media, however. Trust in the media is at a record low, with only 7 percent expressing great trust in what is being reported. The United States ranks last in media trust among 46 nations.

Just as the public does not want social media companies to control their views, it does not want the media to shape its news. In one recent poll, “76.3% of respondents from all political affiliations said that ‘the primary focus of the mainstream media’s coverage of current events is to advance their own opinions or political agendas.’”

Thus, an outbreak of free speech could have dire consequences for many in the political-corporate-media triumvirate. For them, the greatest danger is that Musk could be right and Twitter would become a more popular, more profitable company selling a free speech product.

Poison pill maneuvers are often used to force a potential buyer to negotiate with the board. However, Twitter’s directors (who include Agrawal and Dorsey) have previously limited their product to advance their own political preferences. This time, federal law may force them to fulfill their fiduciary duties, even at the cost of supporting free speech. The problem for the board will occur when the “nightmare” of free speech comes in at $60 a share.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.