READ THE DOCS: Judiciary Republicans Launch Investigation into Twitter and Facebook Following New Revelations in Hunter Biden Laptop Scandal

https://republicans-judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/2022-03-31-HJC-GOP-to-Facebook-re-Hunter-Biden-story.pdf
https://republicans-judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/2022-03-31-HJC-GOP-to-Twitter-re-Hunter-Biden-story.pdf

UNSTOPPABLE: Trump Message Continues On Social Media Despite Ban, Says Report

WASHINGTON (Washington Examiner) — Despite a ban from most major platforms, former President Donald Trump‘s online statements are reportedly spreading far and wide on social media.

Many of Trump’s statements after his January social media ban have received as many, if not more, likes or shares online as they did before, according to an analysis published Monday by the New York Times.

Before his ban, due to his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Trump’s social media engagement generated a median of 272,000 likes and shares, primarily on Facebook and Twitter. After the ban, his median engagement dropped to 36,000 likes and shares, but 11 of his 89 statements in the past few months have been either just as popular or more popular than before the ban.

The top sharers of some of Trump’s statements after his social media ban include Breitbart News, a Facebook page called “President Donald Trump Fan Club,” Fox News, and Jenna Ellis, a member of Trump’s legal team who was roundly defeated in court in 2020 election fraud lawsuits.

Sometimes, when Trump criticized conservatives, his statements would get shared widely by those on both ends of the political spectrum and mainstream publications. Top sharers of his statements on the Left include popular Facebook page “Stand With Mueller” and CNN journalist Jim Acosta.

However, Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud were 17 times less popular after his social media ban because of efforts by Facebook and Twitter to curb political misinformation.

“As the Trump case shows, deplatforming doesn’t ‘solve’ disinformation, but it does disrupt harmful networks and blunt the influence of harmful individuals,” Emerson Brooking, a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told theTimes.

Trump’s statements that got the most traction on social media in the past few monthswere his posts on culture, like his boycott of baseball; his praise for certain conservatives, such as radio host Rush Limbaugh; and his criticism of President Joe Biden on political issues related to the border crisis and taxes.


The Washington Times’ Nihal Krisham contributed to the contents of this report.

SPEECH FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE: Facebook Suspends Trump Account Until At Least 2023

SAN FRANCISCO (The Hill) — Facebook announced Friday that it is suspending former President Trump until Jan. 7, 2023, a full two years after he was first barred from the platform.

After that date, Facebook will evaluate whether the “risk to public safety” of restoring Trump’s account has abated.

If the suspension is then lifted, Trump will be subject to a “strict” set of sanctions for future policy violations, Facebook said.

“We know that any penalty we apply — or choose not to apply — will be controversial,” Facebook’s Nick Clegg said in a blog post. “We know today’s decision will be criticized by many people on opposing sides of the political divide — but our job is to make a decision in as proportionate, fair and transparent a way as possible, in keeping with the instruction given to us by the Oversight Board.”

The suspension is being made under new enforcement protocols announced Friday in response to the company’s independent Oversight Board ruling that the initial indefinite suspension was not appropriate.

Trump in a statement called the decision “an insult” to Americans who voted for him while repeating his false claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

“They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, and ultimately, we will win,” the former president said. “Our Country can’t take this abuse anymore!”

The Oversight Board said it is “encouraged” by Facebook’s adoption of some of its policy recommendations.

“The Board believes the steps Facebook has committed to today will contribute to greater clarity, consistency and transparency in the way the company moderates content, and promote public safety, defend human rights and respect freedom of expression. The Board monitors Facebook’s implementation of all its decisions and recommendations, and intends to hold the company to account on its commitments,” the board said in a statement.

Facebook also announced Friday that it will be providing more clarity about its newsworthiness policy, which allows posts that would otherwise violate platform policy to stay on the site “if it’s newsworthy and if keeping it visible is in the public interest.” The platform claims that, moving forward, it will no longer apply the newsworthiness standard differently to politicians. 

The platform is also publicly publishing its strike system that it uses to determine the severity of punishment that can be doled out to successive infringements of Facebook policies.

Trump was initially suspended for posts made about the 2020 election and deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Other platforms, including Twitter, went further than Facebook and instituted a permanent ban on the former president. 

The Oversight Board — a collection of academics, former journalists and politicians — said that while the decision to suspend Trump was justified given the situation, the lack of clarity around the length of the suspension and what policy explained the duration was problematic.

Facebook said that it will fully implement 15 of the board’s 19 recommendations.

Notably, it is only partially accepting a suggestion to review its own role in facilitating the spread of the narrative that the 2020 was stolen.

“Ultimately… we believe that independent researchers and our democratically elected officials are best positioned to complete an objective review of these events,” the company wrote in its responses to the recommendations.

Facebook also made clear it believes the responsibility for the events of Jan. 6 “lies with the insurrectionists and those who encouraged them.”

The platform was rife with posts about both the election and plans for Jan. 6 in the weeks leading up to the deadly riot, and critics have said Facebook did not do enough to proactively address them.

Facebook critics slammed the platform’s announcement that leaves open the possibility of Trump coming back onto the platform ahead of the 2024 election.

“Facebook’s decision to reinstate Donald Trump’s accounts just in time for the 2024 presidential election puts the public and our democracy in danger,” Muslim Advocates’s senior policy counsel, Madihha Ahussain, said in a statement.

James Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, said Facebook’s failure to permanently ban Trump underscored the need for a “comprehensive tech agenda.”

“A two-year ban gets us past the 2022 election cycle, but does not protect Americans from his interference in the next presidential election, which is why Facebook should, and can, permanently ban Trump,” Steyer said in a statement.

The Real Facebook Oversight Board, a group of tech advocates critical of Facebook and its oversight body, slammed Facebook’s Friday announcement as “accountability theater.”

“This is more evidence that we need actual independent oversight where the terms are enforceably set for Facebook, not just optional recommendations from a body they created and fund,” the group said in a statement.

The Oversight Board that advises the company is funded through a $130 million trust from Facebook to cover the operational costs, but has its own staff independent from the social media giant.

The Hill’s Chris Mills Rodrigo and Rebecca Klar contributed to the contents of this report.


CRUZ TO TWITTER’S JACK DORSEY: ‘Who the Hell Elected You?’

WASHINGTON — Senator Ted Cruz on Wednesday tore into Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey over what he claimed was an anti-Conservative bias on his company’s social media platform.

During an often heated hearing with big tech titans Facebook, Twitter and Google, Cruz, (R)- Calif., called Twitter “a dire threat to free speech in America.”

Grilling Dorsey over Twitter’s decision to block the posting and sharing of a recent New York Post report that made corruption allegations against Joe Biden, Cruz demanded to know what gave Dorsey the right to do so.

“Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear, and why do you persist in behaving as a Democratic super PAC silencing views to the contrary of your political beliefs?” Cruz asked.

In response, Dorsey stated, “We’re not.”

“You’re testifying to this committee right now that Twitter,” Cruz said, “when it silences people, when it censors people, when it blocks political speech, that has no impact on elections?”

“People have choice of other communication channels,” Dorsey responded.

“Not if they don’t hear information,” Cruz countered. “If you don’t think you have the power to influence elections, why do you block anything?”

“Your position is you can sit in Silicon Valley and demand of the media, that you can tell them what stories they can publish, you can tell the American people what reporting they can hear?” he said. “Is that right?”

“No,” Dorsey responded. “Every person, every account, every organization that signed up to Twitter, agrees to a terms of service.”

“So media outlets must genuflect and obey your dictates if they wish to be able to communicate with readers,” Cruz shot back.

“Not at all,” Dorsey said.

Later in the hearing, Sen. Ron Johnson, (R)-Wis., challenged Dorsey’s claim that Twitter does not attempt to influence elections with their policies and actions. He , too, challenged the company’s decision to censor the Post’s reporting, as well as Facebook’s decision to flag it.

“Do either one of you have any evidence that the New York Post story is part of Russian disinformation or that those emails aren’t authentic?” Johnson asked Dorsey and Zuckerberg.

“We don’t,” Dorsey said.

Throughout the hearing, executives for Facebook, Twitter and Google claimed they have no slant against conservatives and have never targeted conservative users or pages for their political beliefs.

TICK TOCK: Gaetz Steps Up Attack Against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Alleging Lies To Congress

WASHINGTON — Rep. Matt Gaetz has filed a criminal referral against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for lying to Congress while under oath, the Florida Republican announced this week.

In a statement, Gaetz alleged that Zuckerberg made materially false statements to Congress while under oath at two separate joint hearings in April 2018.

“Zuckerberg repeatedly and categorically denied his company engaged in bias against conservative speech, persons, policies, or politics and also denied that Facebook censored and suppressed content supportive of President Donald Trump and other conservatives,” the statement reads. Gaetz then went on to allege that James O’Keefe, along with investigative journalists at Project Veritas, uncovered evidence which proved contrary.

“Zuckerberg repeatedly and categorically denied his company engaged in bias against conservative speech, persons, policies, or politics and also denied that Facebook censored and suppressed content supportive of President Donald Trump and other conservatives,” Gaetz argued. “Project Veritas published the results of an undercover investigation featuring two whistleblowers who worked as Facebook’s ‘content moderators,’ revealing that the overwhelming majority of content filtered by Facebook’s AI program was content in support of President Donald Trump, Republican candidates for office, or conservatism in general.”

“This alone is already an indication of bias within the platform,” he added.

In the statement, Gaetz went on to say that he now “questions Zuckerberg’s veracity, as well as his willingness to cooperate with the House’s oversight authority,” and suggested that the Facebook CEO has been “diverting congressional resources during time-sensitive investigations, and materially impeding our work.”

“Such misrepresentations are not only unfair, they are potentially illegal and fraudulent,” said Gaetz.

In addition to referring Zuckerberg to the DOJ for an investigation into the alleged false statements made to Congress by Zuckerberg while under oath, Gaetz personally asked U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Monday to investigate Zuckerberg’s conduct.

“Facebook’s AI screening content is not politically neutral,” Gaetz wrote in a letter to Barr. “Neither are the moderators hired to review content flagged by the AI program. This stands in opposition to Mr. Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony and violates the ‘good faith’ provision of Section 230(c)(2)(A) of the Communications Decency Act.”

“Accordingly, I respectfully refer Mr. Zuckerberg to the Department for an investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. §§1001, 1505, and 1621 for materially false statements made to Congress while testifying under oath.”

When asked about whether Facebook harbors anti-conservative bias while testifying before Congress in 2018, Zuckerberg said:

“First, I understand where that concern is coming from because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place. And this is actually a concern that I have and that I try to root out in the company is making sure that we don’t have any bias in the work that we do, and I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about.”

TRUMP JR.: Facebook, Twitter Using Power to ‘Manipulate’ 2020 Election

WASHINGTON — Left leaning social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are unfairly targeting conservatives, Donald Trump, Jr. said Tuesday, and something, he says, needs to be done about it.

In an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo, Trump said the censoring of conservatives by major social media platforms is a violation of free speech.

“It’s people who are pro-life, it’s people who are pro-Second Amendment, the religious right, I mean it’s happened to me on numerous occasions,” Trump Jr. said. “I got targeted for hate speech, but it turns out I was right,” he said. “That didn’t stop the mainstream media from, you know, dragging me through the mud for three or four days but you know that’s what’s going on.”

Facebook and Twitter are “controlled by leftists … they all believe in one thing and it’s not free speech,” said Trump. “They only believe in their speech, you know, you can only be woke. If you’re not woke, again a cancellable offense.”

Trump went on to say that social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are also doing whatever they can to prevent his father, President Donald Trump, from winning re-election.

They’re “doing whatever they can to manipulate an election,” Trump claimed, by making sure “certain content is pushed and others’ is totally stymied and that’s not right … they gotta lose those protections and the liability that’s probably worth billions of dollars in terms of protection to them from our federal government because taxpayers shouldn’t be funding their own suppression.”

‘JUSTICE FOR FLOYD’: Tensions mount after unarmed black man dies in encounter with police

MINNEAPOLIS — Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis Tuesday evening to express their outrage after 46 year old George Floyd died after what witnesses described as a deadly encounter with police.

The unarmed Floyd was arrested Monday evening after officers responded to a call regarding an alleged forgery in progress. Cell phone video captured by bystanders shows Floyd being handcuffed and pinned to the ground as one police officer presses his knee against his neck. Several times Floyd could be heard pleading with officers that he was in pain and couldn’t breathe. Shortly after, Floyd, who had appeared to stop breathing, was taken to a nearby hospital and declared dead.

According to Minneapolis police, the encounter between Floyd and police occurred just after 8 p.m. Monday, when officers were called to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South after store officials claimed Floyd had attempted to use forged documents at Cup Foods.

A police spokesperson said officers located Floyd sitting in a parked vehicle and that he appeared intoxicated as officers ordered him to exit the vehicle.

“After he got out, he physically resisted officers,” police spokesman John Elder told reporters early Tuesday. “Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and officers noticed that the man was going into medical distress.”

But a video posted to Facebook by witness by Darnella Frazier appears to contradict some of the officer’s claims that Floyd had resisted arrest. During the 9 minute clip Floyd repeatedly groans and says he can’t breathe while being held face down on the pavement.

“He’s not even resisting arrest right now, bro,” one bystander tells the officer and his partner, in the video. “You’re f—ing stopping his breathing right now, you think that’s cool?”

The four officers involved have been fired as a result of the footage.

“It is the right decision for our city, the right decision for our community. It is the right decision for the Minneapolis Police Department,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said at a news conference with Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. “We’ve stated our values, and ultimately we need to live by them.”

WAR ON CONSERVATIVES: Twitter on ‘Dangerous Path,’ Could Face Regulation, Says Gingrich

WASHINGTON — After years of complaints by users who claimed they’d been unfairly targeted for their conservative beliefs, social media giants like Twitter may finally be held liable, says former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Responding to the backlash following Twitter’s labeling of President Donald Trump’s tweets about mail in ballots being a danger to democracy as being fact checked untrue, Gingrich said left leaning social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook could find themselves becoming a “regulated public institution” rather than a private company.

These companies are “going down a very dangerous path” Gingrich told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Wednesday. “What Twitter called fact-check is not true,” Gingrich said. “They went to left-wing publications to get a left-wing version.”

“The president is correct,” Gingrich in defense of the president’s argument. “We have seen a lot of theft of vote, we have seen a lot of mail being lost. There are all sorts of challenges with going through an all-mail program for voting.”

“You look at some of these people, and they are totally out of touch with everyday America,” said Gingrich. “I think that at some point they are going to run a real risk of having some interventions that I don’t want to see happen, but you can’t have a free speech dominated by an institution which is determined only to allow [one] side to speak.”

And it’s not just Twitter, or simply aimed at the president, Gingrich warned. “Facebook, Google, and Twitter have a track record of becoming more anti-conservative, so it’s not all about Trump.”

“It’s anyone in America who has a traditional value and a traditional sense of patriotism or a sense of American history,” said Gingrich. “All of them are under siege in the social media groups.”

‘ENOUGH!’: Trump Vows to ‘Close Down’ Social Media Platforms That Censor Conservatives

WASHINGTON — Fed up with what he declared efforts to “silence conservatives voices,” President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to shut down social media platforms that target Republicans.

The move comes after Twitter added fact-check labels to a pair of Trump’s tweets on Tuesday in which the president claimed there is no way “mail-in ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent.” The labels Twitter attached claimed the tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes” and were put in place “to provide additional contest around mail-in ballots.”

“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016,” Trump tweeted in responses to the labeling. “We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that happen again. Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”

High profile conservatives have long complained of unjust practices by social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, claiming that their accounts were censored, removed from view and unfairly banned.

In an appearance on Fox News, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley complained of special protections put in place to shield tech companies, many of which receive federal funding, from being sued for such practices. “They get this special immunity, this special immunity from suits and from liability that’s worth billions of dollars to them every year. Why are they getting subsidized by federal taxpayers to censor conservatives, to censor people critical of China?”

‘A NEW LOW’: Twitter faces backlash after banning conservative Iraq War veteran Jesse Kelly

SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey faced a wave of backlash on Monday after it was revealed that the social media giant had banned conservative pundit and Iraq war veteran Jesse Kelly.

Kelly, a former Marine who ran for Congress in Arizona in 2010 and 2012, is the host of a nationally syndicated conservative talk radio program based out of Houston.

The news sparked a wave of anger from fellow conservatives who viewed the ban as yet another attack on the right.

“@JesseKellyDC just shared this with me,” tweeted combat vet and author Sean Parnell. “He’s permanently banned with no explanation. He broke no rules. This madness has to stop.”

“Jesse Kelly just showed me the final verdict: Twitter has permanently banned him.
His account is gone and will not be restored, according to Twitter support,” tweeted conservative broadcaster Buck Sexton. “No warnings, no appeals. They’ve ghosted him.”

“The ppl who decided to ban Jesse Kelly and the ppl who are cheering his ban are not only unfair, tyrannical, and lame, they are also pitifully humorless,” Providence Magazine’s Rebeccah Heinrichs tweeted.

“Conservabros who defended tech censorship see the world differently now that Jesse Kelly has been suspended,” journalist and documentary film maker Mike Cernovich wrote.

Kelly’s ban is just the latest in what Republicans have claimed is an ongoing “war on conservatives”.

In September, outspoken right-wing altertative news giant Alex Jones was banned from most social media platforms, including Twitter on the grounds of “hate speech”.

Independent journalist Laura Loomer was also banned by Twitter and Facebook last week for criticizing the practice of female genital mutilation, which is a common practice in the Muslim faith.

According to Twitter’s “terms of use” page, Kelly should have been provided an explanation from Twitter around what policy he may have violated.

“When we permanently suspend an account, we notify people that they have been suspended for abuse violations, and explain which policy or policies they have violated and which content was in violation,” Twitter says on its website.

According to those who have spoken to Kelly in the wake of his ban, no notification or reason was given in this case.

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