SERIOUS SHAME: ACLU PLAYS PARTISAN ON FAKE NEWS TO JOIN IN ON THE FAKE NEWS HOAX
The Executive Director of the ACLU, Anthony Romero, emailed me December 22nd (I'm one of many millions of members) as "another" PLEASE DONATE email.
I should add the ACLU spends "enormous" amount of time, energy and money soliciting funds (and renewals). Savvy people know a good percentage of funding that many non-profit-do-good organizations requests actually go to for-profit organizations that often do much of their solicitation work. Equally plenty the total goes to the often over-paid salaries of executives of these organizations, etc.; whereas some goes to pay for the solicitation of more donations.
But more importantly ACLU pretends to be non-partisan. It lists its "activist issues" and they center squarely on Free Speech. The first claim on their website when you click on "About" says:
For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.
And naturally their big issue for decades has been Free Speech (not so much the Second Amendment?). But why then does it seem that the ACLU is going to great lengths to push a very corrupt Hilary Clinton? This supposedly intelligent organization has seemingly taken everything the mainstream media has said about Trump (and all the many distortions and disinformation) and treated like godsend.
Every ACLU email I received over the last several months suggests (actually blatantly states) Donald Trump would be far worse to human rights than Hilary Clinton.
There is nothing about Wikileaks and the Project Veritas revelations, nothing about DCLeaks regarding George Soros, nothing about how the Clinton campaign stole the nomination from Bernie Sanders, etc., and more importantly nothing about how the mainstream media has ignored so many serious issues as a way of censorship and fake news.
NOW ACLU HAS INADEQUATELY RESPONDED TO THE "FAKE NEWS PROPAGANDA STORY" AS A BLIND MAN WITH KID GLOVES. It is total B.S.
In Anthony Romero's December 22nd Please Donate email he lists a few talking points—first listed:
"Read our Senior Policy Analyst's take on "fake news" and free speech, as well as an update on what Facebook is doing about it." If you click on the link it goes to:
Fixing Fake News By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project December 12, 2016 at:
To say the least Jay Stanley's response is Egregious. HOW THE ACLU THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT DEFENDING THE UNDERDOG HAS SO PATHETICALLY BECOME SO PARTISAN AND SO NAÏVE ABOUT SUCH AN IMPORTANT SUBJECT and in such an important time on this critical issue!!
So MANY supposedly progressive organizations have ignored or down-played this issue—and seemingly especially those gaining funding through George Soros? This would be an excellent test to see if in fact Soros is corrupting the politics of the United States in another matter. We need to examine "all" the many organizations Soros funds that relate to politics and civil rights, see: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1237
What is Robert Reich discussing? What does Amy Goodman and Democracy Now?
Thank goodness there is a voice out there in the wilderness that has been deeply and trenchantly critical of the Clinton Campaign. See The Sane Progressive, Debbie Lusignan, and study "all" her past videos, check out now (she alone could wake up the left if people acknowledged her existence 5 Stars to the Sane Progressive as there are too few of them *****):
I have decided to print the Stanley statement on Fixing Fake News to show the great level of ignorance, hypocrisy and collusion (and you need to read deep into the memo to really get the real gist (as many would not bother) before you get the gist of the distortion and lies being supported by the ACLU).
I am sorry this response by Stanley is somewhat boring, haphazard long and pedantic (I think it is on purpose). It is a bit of a chore to read. I cannot make his statement and my response to what he attends the most exciting in the world—but the fact that this is what the head of the ACLU is pointing to as their current position on FAKE NEWS IN RELATION TO THE REAL ISSUE OF FREE SPEECH AND IT SPEAKS MOUNTAINS. Try to understand what it means for an organization of many HUNDREDS OF lawyers to be put to sleep with this blather and bullshit. This should b alarming. Time to wake up the world of lawyering:
MY RESPONSE IS IN RED INTERJECTED BETWEEN THE BLACK OF THAT STATEMENT: FEEL FREE TO READ AND SHARE AS YOU WILL FIND IT SCARY IN ITS IMPLICATIONS (because the American Civil Liberties Union is ESPECIALLY supposed to be about free speech). It is interesting to witness how this sophistic argument devolves into a low ball style of partisan dishonesty equal to much of the left. Here then is presented the ACLU joke response to fake news:
Fixing Fake News By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project
[Note: Remember that the red is in respond to the author Jay Stanley (his article is in black).]
There has been a lot of distortion discussion lately about "fake news," which appears to have circulated with fierce velocity on social media throughout this past election season but mostly after the 33rd DNC attempt to illegally steal the election by declaring Russia did it. This has prompted calls for the likes of Facebook and Google to fix the problem.
From the mainstream media and other players of the globalist power structure (of which several players in the CIA are included).
What are we to think of this from a free speech and civil liberties perspective?
First "you" might understand a more sophisticated analysis of how much deceit has been generated by the MSM and the power elite before you ask such a naively worded question with almost no explanation of the real and deep problem of alternative websites exposing the corruption of the elitist enterprise.
With Facebook, which has been a particular subject of calls for reform, there are actually two issues that should be thought about separately. The first involves Facebook's "Trending News" section, which was the subject of a flap earlier this year when it emerged that it was actually edited by humans, rather than being generated by a dumb algorithm that simply counted up clicks. A former employee alleged that the human curators were biased against conservative material. In the wake of that controversy, Facebook took the humans out of the loop, making the "Trending News" more of a simple mirror held up to the Facebook user base showing them what is popular.
What gobbledygook horse manicure is this supposed to signify? This author throws around some abstract words and phrases like "human curators" and "dumb algorithms" and we are supposed to aver to he-said-she-said baloney?
Get something straight—this censorship is about censoring meaning of certain ideas and points of view—not about clicks and mathematical hocus pocus. The idea there is some objective, electronic, and robotic censoring happening is complete bat-droppings. Besides computer programming is ultimately created by humans be they curators or not. Curators take care of museums and archivist archive (and equally do not set out to censor). Get your so-called literary semantics straight!
As I said in a blog post at the time, I'm ambivalent about this part of the fake news controversy. No it is worse: you are unconscious to the real and deep issues. You are naïve.
On the one hand, it can be valuable and interesting to see what pieces are gaining circulation on Facebook, independent of their merit. On the other hand, Facebook certainly has the right, acting like any publisher, to view the term "trending" loosely and publish a curated list of interesting material from among those that are proving popular at a given time.
One huge problem with your analysis is that you fail to mention that this fake news fake propaganda blitz evolved with the Democratic Party trying to use Russia as a red herring and then certain shady "lists" of specific websites being "listed" as purveyors of fake news (actually real news) from no less than the Washington Post. You obviously are (or pretend to be) unfamiliar with the so-called fake news sources. Facebook came into this issue of late as aftermath.
You do not even have the pulse of the story!!! See video sequence (starting at: 2:14:00) from InfoWars with John Rappoport from NoMoreFakeNews.Com as he gives one of many real news explanations about this political situation (that any competent person could find on the Internet): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ab2pfPVlXM
One advantage of their doing so is that crazy stuff won't get amplified further through the validation of being declared "News" by Facebook.
The issue is not about ‘crazy stuff' rather it is about the deliberate deceit (disinformation) coming from the MSM. Crazy is a layperson term of subjectivity. The word ‘sanity' comes to us from Latin ‘sanus' meaning ‘sound'; and much of what is written and spoken on many of the "listed" fake news sights is comprised of sound arguments.
A result of the decision to take human editors out of the loop is that a number of demonstrably false news items have subsequently appeared in the "Trending News" list. Fake because this is a low-level side issue.
But Facebook plays a separate, far more significant function than their role as publisher of Trending News: it serves as the medium for a peer-to-peer communications network. I can roam anywhere on the Internet, get excited by some piece of material, brilliant or bogus, and post it on Facebook for my Friends to see. If some of them like it, they can in turn post it for their Friends to see.
The question is, do we want Facebook in its role as administrator of this peer-to-peer communications network to police the veracity of the material that users send each other? If I don't post something stupid on Facebook, I can telephone my friends to tell them about it, or text them the link, or tell them about it in a bar. Nobody is going to do anything to stop the spread of fake news through those channels.
This is not about what one can ‘technically' define Facsist-book (one of the real characteristics of fascism is that it seeks to censor ideas) be it peer-to-peer or smear-to-smear.
This is about magnitude of audience and the survival of small media versus a hugely corrupt mainstream media made of mostly six corporations. Informal norms have always existed to shun, argue, vent, to complain etc. These norms will continue.
ACLU people seem to think normal people are too naïve to think for themselves and must have designated "authority" figures be their masters—kind of strange given all the corruption from the authority people?
Facebook doesn't want to get into that business, How does Jay Stanley know what Face book (or any sliver of that huge outfit) wants—simply because he chooses to believe something?
and I don't think we want them to, either. Imagine the morass it would create.
Then why did they jump into the fray? Why is Zuckerberg meeting with the Chinese so often (if not censorship)?
There will be easy, clear cases, such as a piece telling someone to drink Drano to lose weight, which is not only obviously false but also dangerous. But there would also be a thicket of hard-to-call cases. Is acupuncture effective? Are low-carb diets "fake"? Is barefoot running good for you? These are examples of questions where an established medical consensus may have once been confidently dismissive, but which now are, at a minimum, clouded with controversy.
There is science that can often be argued on facts and can seem more or less black and white and then there is politics that is often based on shades of grey and many forms of deceit (politics and news is especially fraught with shady opinion and lies) and this is what this debate about fake news really entails—not drinking drano—not running barefoot. Jay Stanley is not even putting his toes in the pool here. He is completely acting like a naïve fool who has no awareness that fake news has been a dominant force in American news reporting before the Internet even existed. Amateur would be a kind way to say it.
How is Facebook to evaluate materials making various claims in such areas, inevitably made with highly varying degrees of nuance and care—let alone politically loaded claims about various officeholders? Like all mass censorship, it would inevitably lead the company into a morass of inconsistent and often silly decisions and troubling exercises of power.
Mirriam-Webster shows synonyms of the word choice of ‘silly' to be: birdbrained, ditzy (or ditsy), dizzy, featherbrained, flighty, frivolous, frothy, futile, goofy, harebrained, light-headed, light-minded, puerile, scatterbrained, giddy, yeasty.
The real discussion here is about the word "deceit" and synonyms like: artifice, cheating, cozenage, craft, craftiness, crookedness, crookery, cunning, cunningness, deceitfulness, deception, deceptiveness, dishonesty, dissembling, dissimulation, double-dealing, dupery, duplicity, fakery, foxiness, fraud, guile, guilefulness.
These are two different ballpark discussions that go way beyond connotation, nuance or variation in opinion.
It might sound easy to get rid of "fake news," but each case will be a specific, individual judgment call, and often, a difficult one.
Every single source of fact or opinion has both gradations of truth and gradation of falsehood. Often falsehoods or deliberate lies battle falsehoods or deliberate lies. One can get a reasonably learned perspective by studying a wide range of conflicting views—which means more variety of input and opinion (especially the less known and more emotionally disturbing opinion as allowed as a common good). Things political or seldom black or white save the most dogmatic saying so.
It is true that in some ways Facebook already interposes itself between users and their Friends—that unlike, say, the telephone system, it does not serve as a neutral medium for ideas and communications. If Facebook got out of the way and let every single posting and comment from every one of your Friends flow through your newsfeed, you would quickly be overwhelmed.
Facebook is already getting out of the way by inviting competition for its niche.
So they use "The Algorithm" to try to assess what they think you'll be most interested in, and place that in your feed. The company says this algorithm tries to assess content for whether it's substantive, whether you'll find it relevant to you personally based on your interests, and also how interested you are in the Friend who posted it, based on how often you click on their stuff (Facebook actually assigns you numbers for each of your Friends, a "stalking score" that indicates how interested you seem to be in each of them).
Sounds like Fascist FaceBook is playing God? Which God will decide what is substantive (a book on philosophy by itself)? This is NOT about Facebook. This is about all major Internet companies and the United Nations controlling the Internet. This is about the Democratic Party and the old mainstream media creating a political bombshell in order to put pressure on tech companies to control and suppress the flow of ideas and arguments, and it is about politicians creating laws to further create a Ministry of Truth. How can an organization called the American Civil Liberties Union be so seemingly lame or stupid?
Facebook provides some details on how its algorithm works in its "News Feed FYI" blog. Some of those mechanisms already arguably constitute censorship of a sort. For example, the company heavily downgrades items with headlines that it judges to be "clickbaity," based on a Bayesian algorithm (similar to those used to identify spam) trained on a body of such headlines. That means that if you write a story with a headline that fits that pattern, it is unlikely to be seen by many Facebook users because the company will hide it. Since January 2015 Facebook has also heavily downgraded stories that Facebook suspects are "hoaxes," based on their being flagged as such by users and frequently deleted by posters. (That would presumably cover something like the Drano example.)
Obviously there can be information chaos and information corruption when there are few gatekeepers paying attention in a world that can have real dangers. Librarians do not lecture people on what they should and should not think about. Still there is a tradition of publishing institutions providing a wide range of competing books, magazines, and forms of publications that have some history, and some review. But the mainstream media is a different animal of being trustworthiness. It is not the common person's fault that less than 10% of the public gives an approval rating to either the Congress or the media. The real news from Wikileaks is that the MSM colluded with the Hilary Clinton campaign (unethical and illegal). Americans at this time have no authority figures they can trust—they are being forced to be more resourceful for themselves (a positive reality).
Most of this interference with the neutral flow of information among Friends is aimed at making Facebook more fun and entertaining for its users.
So ACLU honcho Romero is fobbing off this single angle about facebook as if their response to the entire fake news blitz? Sounds kind of fake from an organization that supposedly is partially funded by George Soros?
Though I'm uncomfortable with the power they have, I don't have any specific reason to doubt that their algorithm is currently oriented toward that stated goal, especially since it aligns with the company's commercial incentives as an advertiser.
As if this were merely about some mere company issue. Why is Zuckerberg meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel? Is Facebook merely an average company having average company issues? No. Facebook is a Hegemon.
There are of course very real and serious questions about how Facebook's algorithmic pursuit of "fun" for its users contributes to the Filter Bubble, in which we tend to see only material that confirms our existing views.
Do we need to study the synonyms of the word ‘fun'? Are young people mostly concerned about having fun or could the young (who have inherited such a messed up society and world) actually be interested in real world affairs? Does this argument now devolve into irrelevance?
The difference between art and commerce has been defined as the difference between that which expands our horizons by getting us out of our comfort zone—i.e. by making us uncomfortable—and that which lets us stay complacently where we already are with pleasing and soothing confirmations of our existing views. In that, Facebook's News feed is definitely commerce, not art. It does not pay to challenge people and make them uncomfortable.
The ACLU is now getting academic with art and commerce? Here is Merriam-Webster dictionary of the word fake: Definition of fake
1. : one that is not what it purports to be: as a : a worthless imitation passed off as genuine b : impostor, charlatan c : a simulated movement in a sports contest (as a pretended kick, pass, or jump or a quick movement in one direction before going in another) designed to deceive an opponent d : a device or apparatus used by a magician to achieve the illusion of magic in a trick
But for Facebook to assume the burden of trying to solve a larger societal problem of fake news by tweaking these algorithms would likely just make the situation worse. To its current role as commercially motivated curator of things-that-will-please-its-users would be added a new role: guardian of the social good.
This guy must be some graduate of an Ivy League college?
And that would be based on who-knows-what judgment of what that good might be at a given time. If the company had been around in the 1950s and 1960s, for example, how would it have handled information about Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, gay rights, and women's rights? A lot of material that is now seen as vital to social progress would then have been widely seen as beyond the pale.
A lot of stuff seen as vital today is beyond the pale. Oh the past was so naïve to the current age of social righteous warrior like left-wingers screaming their hatred about the hatred on the right.
The company already has a frightening amount of power, and this would increase it dangerously. We wouldn't want the government doing this kind of censorship—that would almost certainly be unconstitutional—and many of the reasons that would be a bad idea would also apply to Facebook, which is the government of its own vast realm.
Why does this sound like some patronizing cynic in a cloud of mediocrity who has no idea of current corruption by the status quo and no mention of an already evolved Police State?
For one thing, once Facebook builds a giant apparatus for this kind of constant truth evaluation, we can't know in what direction it may be turned. What would Donald Trump's definition of "fake news" be?
Any hired fat man dressed as Santa Claus could argue better than this lawyer-based ACLU switching to Trump rather than dealing with non-partisan realities head-on. Santa Claus does not make 120 dollars an hour.
Social Media Helps Police Spy On Activists Act now
The ACLU's ideal is that a forum for free expression that is as central to our national political conversations as Facebook has become would not feature any kind of censorship or other interference with the neutral flow of information. There are laws already. This is not anarchism to speak real truth in a world of corruption.
It (pronoun) already does engage in such interference in response to its commercial interest in tamping down the uglier sides of free speech (not especially clear), but to give Facebook the role of national Guardian of Truth would exponentially increase the pitfalls that approach brings.
The company does not need to interfere more heavily in Americans' communications. This is all so nebulous isn't it? We would like to see Facebook go in the other direction, becoming more transparent about the operation of its algorithms to ordinary users, and giving them an ever-greater degree of control over how that algorithm works.
We (we of the truth community) would like to see all tech companies tell the globalists to face reality—they have been caught blatantly with their pants down colluding with the most corrupt political couple in American history (as well as giving cover for an elaborately corrupt political culture). Tell the MSM and the status quo to eat crow. Live and let live.
The real problem
At the end of the day, fake news is not a symptom of a problem with our social-communications sites, but a societal problem. Facebook and other sites are just the medium.
True and false: Facebook could be mostly a medium (same word as media). But media is ultimately controlled by laws, practices and persons. It was not the ACLU that woke up the American public to the Snowden leaks. Not once so far in the response has there been mention of Julian Assange or Wikileaks? This too seems to be a problem?
Writing in the New Yorker, Nicholas Lemann looks beyond information regulation by Facebook to another possible solution to the fake news problem: creating and bolstering public media like the BBC and NPR. But whatever the merits of public media may be, the problem today is not that there aren't good news outlets; the problem is that there is a large group of Americans who don't believe what those outlets say, and have aggressively embraced an alternate, self-contained set of facts and sources of facts. This is not a problem that can be fixed either by Mark Zuckerberg or by turning PBS into another BBC.
The Alternative is not self-contained (it is comprised of potentially millions of diverse sources). The mainstream media is self-contained.
There are two general (albeit overlapping) problems here. The first is simply that there are a lot of credulous people out there who create a marketplace for mercenary creators of fake news, which can be about any topic. The timeless problem of gullible people has been exacerbated by the explosion of news sources and people's inability to evaluate their credibility.
By now we realize that this ACLU spokesperson has decided to play gullible and sell what amounts to as detritus for worthy argument. This organization that claims to represent lawyers has become an embarrassment for the idea of putting forth an argument. They "talk down" to the gullible? If you know the word ‘mercenary' then you are of the elitist class.
For much of the 20th century, most people got most of their news from three television networks and a hometown newspaper or two. If a guy was handing out a leaflet on a street corner, people knew to question its value. If he was working for their union or for the Red Cross, they might trust him. If he was a random Macedonian teenager, they might not. The wonderful and generally healthy explosion of information sources made possible by the Internet has a downside, which is that it has collapsed the distinctions between established newspapers and the online equivalent of people handing out material on street corners. The physical cues that signal to people whether or not to trust pamphleteers in the park are diminished, and many people have not yet learned to read them.
Are we going to get a whole class on sociology because a good argument doesn't need to ramble on clichés.
We can hope that someday the entire population of post graduate lawyers will be well-educated enough to discriminate between legitimate and bogus sources online—or at least adapt and learn to be more discriminating online as it's natural to be off. But until that day arrives, gullibility will always be a problem. Synonyms to the word ‘gullible': dewy-eyed, exploitable, easy (also gullable), naive (or naïve), susceptible, trusting, unwary, wide-eyed.
The second problem is the existence of a specific political movement that rejects the "mainstream media" in favor of a group of ideological news outlets like Breitbart and Infowars—a movement of politically motivated people who eagerly swallow not just opinions but also facts that confirm their views and attitudes and aggressively reject anything that challenges those views.
Suddenly we discover "ideological news outlets"? This author Jay Stanley waits this long in this mediocre narrative to show his cards. (By now almost no one that started reading this attempt at persuasion has bothered to go this far). Finally people who are not part of the Facebook page company are being addressed?
Left and right have always picked and chosen from among established facts to some extent, and constructed alternate narratives to explain the same facts. But what is new is a large number of Americans who have rejected the heretofore commonly accepted sources of the facts that those narratives are built out of.
Yes that is correct—you have stated something true but obvious.
The defense mechanisms against intellectual challenge by those living in this world are robust.
Heaven we have a prophet parting he seas.
I have encountered this in my own social media debates when I try to correct factual errors. When I point posters to a news article in a source like the New York Times or Washington Post, specific newspapers are finally mentioned (those that are so heavily guilty of disinformation) I am told that those "liberal mainstream media sources" can't be trusted. While these sources certainly make mistakes, and like everyone are inevitably subject to all kinds of systemic biases in what they choose to publish and how they tell stories, they are guided by long-evolved professional and reputational standards and do not regularly get major facts wrong without being called to task.
The real news is the fake news occasionally makes mistakes as do all mere mortals, but they still abide strict standards.
When I point people to the highly reputable fact-checking site Snopes, I am told that it is "funded by George Soros," and for that reason can apparently be dismissed. (This is itself a false fact; Snopes says it is entirely self-funded through advertising revenues.)
Why is the ACLU arguing for Snopes when over half the drawn out diatribe was about Facebook? Why is ACLU even attempting to label certain sources as either worthy or not worthy?
This phenomenon has been dubbed "epistemic closure." Say what????? While originally a charge levied at intellectuals at Washington think tanks, it is an apt term for everyday readers of Breitbart and its ilk who close themselves off from alternate sources of information.
Neutrality reigns at the ACLU? I think I will cancel my membership.
This is not a problem that can be fixed by Facebook; it is a social problem that exists at the current moment in our history. The problems with bogus material on Facebook and elsewhere (and their as-yet-undetermined role in the 2016 election) merely reflect these larger societal ills. Attempting to program those channels to somehow make judgments about and filter out certain material is the wrong approach.
The problem is that I got this not through Fascist Book (thanks Lisa Haven for that great rewrite) but through an email of an organization that wastes tens of thousands of dollars (seemingly) in soliciting for more donations from people they take for granted (like the Democratic Party has done).
Note: I participated in a panel discussion on this issue at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on Tuesday, which can be seen here. No Thanks.