O Say Can You See, DJT and the FCC

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President Trump is reportedly considering an order that would regulate how big social media networks moderate content. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

by Rachel Kennedy

According to the LA Times, the White House has been spreading the rumor that President Trump plans to sign an executive order giving the FCC oversight of the Internet.

More importantly for the Donald is the fact that this law limits the liability of online companies for what content users upload. (I’m betting Donald would greatly appreciate the chance to bankrupt someone who is NOT HIM for a change).

The upshot of this grand plan is no big surprise, it’s the next step in Trump’s, his Administration’s, The Republican Party’s and the Trump Base of assorted n’er do wells, to control information, in this case, the content of Social Media. Twitter is one of Trump’s best tools for information control– he needs his followers; drowning out opposing voices is just so Mussolini…..

Let me speak through [the newsreel] in twenty cities in Italy once a week and I need no other power.

Benito Mussolini on April 20, 1927 on the emerging newsreel technology

The LA Times notes that with this Executive Order, Trump wants to take the teeth out of a 1996 Federal law– This law gives online companies the the bulk of the control over whatever “objectionable” material users upload as long these companies do so in “good faith.”

An example– let’s imagine a scenario in which Donald hints at the “invasion” of murderous foreign gangsta hoards, or is criticized/called out for racism, or for grabbing any nearby female anything –it would be the FCC (toss the FTC in there too) judging whether or not something is objectionable, whether or not the social media is liable, and so on.

….Mind easily mesmerized when frightened…..

from Master of Stupidity by Toba Beta

Per Vanity Fair’s article Trump and groupies have accused Twitter, Facebook, and other prominent tech companies of harboring an anti-conservative bias. This argument is anecdotal; no research or data indicates this; — The companies deny liberal bias and say they do block content and/or users who violate terms of service. . . . .

Of course, such factual data doesn’t mean much to the Trumpets, so to address the issue, last month Trump held “the profoundly weird and utterly pointless” Social Media Summit. It clumped together conspiracy theorists, bloggers, trolls, meme creators, basement dwellers and the like; Twitter, FB weren’t there; one guerrilla journalist was….it was a crowd so far right it mortified even some White House staffers….

“We have censorship like nobody has any understanding or nobody can believe,” Trump said at the time. “They’re playing with a lot of minds, and they’re playing unfairly.” [emphasis mine, rmk]

Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman; a former Verizon Associate General Counsel

Emma Llansó, a free speech expert at the Center for Democracy and Technology, notes the Constitutional problems:

“No part of the government can dictate a vague standard of ‘unfair content moderation’ and use it to punish websites for exercising discretion in deciding what speech to host,” she said in a statement. “An executive order giving the FCC such powers would raise significant 1st Amendment issues and would be quickly challenged in court.”

There may be a tiny slightly slanted sort of almost vertical upside. The FCC is not under Trump’s authority; he “can’t” tell them what to do: per the Times, “…… while FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is a Trump appointee, he has also been a forceful opponent of the FCC regulating the internet. In fact, his position in the net neutrality debate has been that his agency has no such authority.”

In addition to railing against their supposed anti-conservative bias, Trump has also deflected blame to Silicon Valley in the wake of two mass shootings last weekend, including one in which the alleged gunman posted a racist manifesto to social media before killing nearly two dozen people at an El Paso Walmart. Rather than endorse gun control measures, the president has invited tech leaders to a roundtable (the aforementioned Social Media Summit) to discuss ways to “shine light on the dark recesses of the internet and stop mass murders before they start,” as Trump put it in an address on the massacres Monday.

So this week with Trump’s response to shootings, to immigration, to minorities, to women, we saw the continuation of what started with Trump early on–a shady back alley game of  manipulating information to benefit his own ass end.  And social media is one thing– the free press is/will also, be targeted and what’s next, burning books?  Oh, but let us remember…..Trump is not the only person with a plan and words–we just have to know how to use them……

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.

Philip K Dick, Author of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep