Alexander Hall is a staff writer for MRC TechWatch
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As if the Big Tech video game industry wasn’t liberal enough, now Soros has bought $45 million worth of shares in one of its biggest contenders. Liberal billionaire George Soros has reportedly purchased “758,000 shares, which were worth over $45 million at the end of Q4” according to Nasdaq. Activision Blizzard is famous for a widespread lineup of popular game franchises, including: ‘Call of Duty,’ ‘World of Warcraft,’ ‘Guitar Hero’ and ‘Candy Crush.'
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has led a crusade against the Chinese-owned video platform TikTok, and now he has reportedly proposed legislation to ban federal workers from using it on their government-issued devices. Hawley dropped the hammer on TikTok after a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on big tech’s connections to China, Reuters reported. After condemning the platform for “scooping up immense amounts of data” and “sharing it with Beijing” as they are “required to” do, Hawley suggested it is a “no-brainer” to ban “federal employees” from using it.
The Verge’s tech survey has a few big takeaways: Americans are skeptical of Facebook, want Big Tech broken up, and seemingly say Twitter is a menace to society. The Verge has conducted surveys, starting with “the hangover of the 2016 US presidential election” about the power and implications of Big Tech platforms. “That survey found that the public was increasingly skeptical of Facebook but was still reliant on it,” The Verge wrote in its March 2 article.
The New York Times sees YouTube purges as a start, but still not good enough. “YouTube’s efforts to curb conspiracy theories pose a major test of Silicon Valley’s ability to combat misinformation,” The Times wrote in its March 2 coverage. It cited the findings from a University of California Berkeley study which concluded YouTube spreads fewer conspiracy theories than before, but still has a long way to go.
YouTube has been overhauling its policies, and one result is clear: chances to successfully appeal your content once it has been removed are slim. In YouTube’s latest Community Guidelines enforcement report spanning from Oct. to Dec. 2019, the platform revealed that after 108,779 videos were appealed after taken down, a mere 23,471 were reinstated. In short, creators are being put on notice that they have a less than twenty-two percent chance of having their content reinstated once it has been removed.
Google critic Dr. Robert Epstein warned of Big Tech’s potential for abuse in elections -- and apparently Americans are beginning to heed his concerns. Both Republicans and Democrats appear to agree that Big Tech will be unable to prevent their platforms from being misused during the 2020 election. “[N]early three-quarters of Americans (74%) express little or no confidence” that Big Tech companies will be able to “prevent the misuse of their platforms” during the 2020 election, Pew Research Center summarized in a FactTank article on Feb. 24 on a Jan. 2020 poll.
Conservative leaders spoke at a game-changing panel about how the movement will take on Big Tech censorship. Donald Trump, Jr., House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) blasted Bich Tech bias at a Feb 28 CPAC panel “What’s the Right Path Forward on Big Tech?” This panel represented just how rapidly the conservative movement has largely overhauled its approach to the Big Tech issue in recent years. Don Jr. addressed how many in conservative leadership “have not even realized that with our base across the country this is probably a top three issue.”
After a brief controversy where the viral video app TikTok censored and reinstated a pro-life organization, the platform has allowed a viral video showing young women seemingly giddy about abortion. Live Action founder Lila Rose blasted TikTok via tweet Feb. 27 at 10:15 a.m. when she discovered an “Unbelievable” viral video she said has 4 million views, which “shows girls cheerfully walking into Planned Parenthood & one killing her baby on camera. It’s in violation of countless Community Guidelines against: ‘Violent content’ ‘Depictions of deaths’ ‘Dismembered humans’ & others.” During the drafting of this piece, Twitter removed Rose’s tweet with a note that it “violated the Twitter Rules. Learn more.”
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that YouTube may censor whomever it chooses, and is not bound by the First Amendment. The ruling in Prager University v. Google dealt a blow to PragerU’s cause this past Wednesday, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s coverage. The decision upheld the district court’s dismissal of an action brought by PragerU against YouTube and its parent company Google despite PragerU's claim that YouTube acts much like a public forum and therefore was obligated to uphold First Amendment protections for freedom of speech.
Worried about the rise of socialism? The Big Tech oligarchs over at Twitter don’t appear to be. Despite a Twitter rule which states that the platform will censor accounts for using “hateful symbol[s],” a Twitter spokesperson defended the use of the communist hammer and sickle -- a symbol that Hillsdale College professor Dr. Charles N. Steele said is associated with the deaths of millions -- on the platform.
Prominent liberal Google critic Dr. Robert Epstein wrote an op-ed warning that Big Tech companies can rig the 2020 election and “make the Russians look like rank amateurs.” “President Donald Trump can’t win the 2020 election,” wrote Dr. Robert Epstein, a senior researcher at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology and former Editor-in-chief of “Psychology Today.” In a Feb. 24 op-ed “Why Republicans Can’t Win in 2020,” he observed that Big Tech companies “can shift opinions and votes in numerous ways that people can’t detect” and shared intercepted emails and studies to prove it. His solution: “monitor them aggressively."
A 19-year-old German woman is being hailed as the conservative response to climate change activist Greta Thunberg. She has condemned climate alarmism as a “despicably anti-human ideology,” and liberal journos are heated about it. Naomi Seibt encourages rationality in the face of climate alarmism and is seen as the conservative answer to climate change activists like Greta Thunberg. She is currently being supported by libertarian think tank The Heartland Institute, and was reportedly hired as the figurehead of its campaign to question the scientific consensus about climate change. “If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Heartland’s tactics amount to an acknowledgment that Greta has touched a nerve, especially among teens and young adults” The Washington Post wrote in its Feb. 23 coverage.
Can Bloomberg’s money hack the election? Twitter moderators would disagree. Twitter reportedly suspended 70 pro-Bloomberg accounts this past Friday for engaging in “platform manipulation.” For all of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s money and unorthodox media strategies, he can't seem to buy an authentic grassroots following. “We have taken enforcement action on a group of accounts for violating our rules against platform manipulation and spam,” a Twitter spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times (The Times).
Google has bought its way into health care through fitness tracking. Is the European Union (E.U.) right to call foul? Both U.S. and E.U. regulators are wary of Google’s $2.1 billion purchase of fitness tracking company Fitbit last November. The New York Post announced that the Department of Justice would be looking into the acquisition last December, and the E.U.’s European Data Protection Board (E.D.B.P.) cited that this purchase by an already powerful company “could entail a high level of risk to privacy and data protection.”
About 300 Oracle employees have staged a virtual walkout over their founder and chairman’s support for President Donald Trump. Oracle employees were outraged when they found out that Big Tech billionaire Larry Ellison was hosting a pro-Trump fundraiser at his estate. On Thursday, Feb. 20 a protest was launched in response to a petition signed by thousands of employees. The protest, as Protocol summarized, “asked employees to log off and spend the rest of the day contributing to causes such as immigration, gender equity or the environment.
A leaked demo revealed a new system that may change the way Twitter users get information on the platform.Twitter confirmed a leaked demo of upcoming anti-“misinformation” features, reported NBC News. The demo was one of a few variants of possible anti-“misinformation” policies that are being prepared for a March 5 rollout. As NBC News described, “disinformation or misleading information posted by public figures will be corrected directly beneath the tweet by fact-checkers and journalists who are verified on the platform.” Common users may also have some power to fact-check, reported NBC News, as there may be a “community reports” feature, which the demo compared to Wikipedia.
Facebook’s plans for regulating Big Tech have not met the expectations of some bigwigs in EU leadership. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg toured Brussels earlier this week, meeting with press and politicians and also publishing a white paper on regulating Big Tech called “Charting the Way Forward: Online Content Regulation.”
Facebook is finding some forms of government regulation to be too much for the company, even as CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls for more of it. Facebook has been "legally compelled," according to Bloomberg News, by the government of Singapore to block access to a fringe news website States Times Review (STR) after it posted rumors about the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Facebook told Bloomberg News that it would comply on Feb. 19, but declared it is "deeply concerned about the precedent this sets for the stifling of freedom of expression.
The fate of free speech on the internet could be discussed at an upcoming discussion hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The News Media Alliance (NMA), a thousands-strong coalition of U.S. news organizations, is criticizing the scope of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provided legal protection for tech companies from the consequences of users’ posts. The NMA seeks to “propose limits” to this rule which it says, “to-date, has helped Big Tech companies dodge responsibility for the content people upload to their platforms” an Axios newsletter summarized.
The origin of the coronavirus is still being debated, but Twitter has responded to one skeptic outlet by censoring it. The ZeroHedge founder reportedly, under the pseudonym Tyler Durden, asked “Is This The Man Behind The Global Coronavirus Pandemic?” and theorized about the coronavirus’s true origins.