NY Times Tech Guy Sees ‘Bigots’ on Social Media, Gets Touchy When He’s Smeared Too

March 18th, 2024 2:08 PM

New York Times tech reporter/columnist Kevin Roose is notorious here at NewsBusters for hailing a gay-Marxist activist who successfully “demonetized” a conservative comedian’s YouTube account, and for nudging social media platforms toward anti-conservative censorship.

While Roose surely surprised readers with his reluctant approval of a TikTok ban in his Friday piece, “TikTok Is Its Own Worst Enemy,” his reasoning was unintentionally amusing and revealing of hypocrisy.

I was really rooting for TikTok.

In 2020, when the Trump administration first tried to force TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, to sell the app or risk having it shut down, I argued that banning TikTok in the United States would do more harm than good.

Why? Partly because TikTok seemed like a convenient scapegoat for problems -- invasive data collection, opaque content policies, addictive recommendation algorithms -- that plagued all the big social media apps, and partly because I never bought the argument that the app was a Chinese spying tool hiding in plain sight.


But over the past few weeks, as a bipartisan bill that would force ByteDance to sell TikTok hurtled toward passage in Congress, I’ve warmed up to the idea that banning TikTok, or forcing its sale, is probably a good idea.

What changed his mind? For one, a TikTok executive suggested Roose was an anti-Chinese “bigot.”

Mostly, TikTok tried to keep its head down, while privately suggesting that anyone who dared to question the company’s ties to the Chinese government was engaging in paranoid, and perhaps racist, fear mongering….the company also wielded accusations of xenophobia against good-faith skeptics who simply wanted to know how an app owned by a Chinese tech conglomerate could be free of Chinese influence, given Beijing’s track record of meddling with its tech companies.

(I’ll never forget the time a few years ago when a TikTok executive suggested that I was a bigot for raising questions about whether Mr. Chew -- who, importantly, was also serving as ByteDance’s chief financial officer at the time -- felt pressure to adhere to Chinese censorship laws.)

Yet this same reporter has filed some dozen stories referencing the need to crack down on the “bigots and trolls” infesting social media platforms. A small sampling:

From July 2020’s “Goodbye to the Wild Wild Web.”

The internet giants’ unwillingness to make rules (and then, later, their inability to enforce them) empowered a generation of bigots and media manipulators who are now among our most influential public figures.

From a June 2020 story:

Twitter has been a supporter of Black Lives Matter for years -- remember Mr. Dorsey’s trip to Ferguson? -- but it, too, has a problem with racists and bigots using its platform to stir up unrest….these companies’ own products -- Facebook, Twitter and YouTube -- have been successfully weaponized by racists and partisan provocateurs, and are being used to undermine Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements.

From October 2022:

It’s possible that, as Mr. Musk suggests, relaxing Twitter’s rules could revitalize it, or bring lapsed users back to the platform. It’s also possible that it could empower bigots and trolls, and undo years of work that made the platform safer for users and more attractive to advertisers….

Perhaps Roose’s most obnoxious report was his unswerving February 2020 hagiography of gay Marxist activist Carlos Maza for demonetizing conservative comedian Stephen Crowder:

Carlos Maza believes that YouTube is a destructive, unethical, reckless company that amplifies bigots and profits off fascism. Now it’s also his meal ticket.