Juan Williams: Crime, Lies and the Internet


Are we living the movie “Idiocracy”?

In this spoof, Americans were let down by a diet of stupid TV shows and stupid commercials, as well as porn stars and celebrity wrestlers. This led the electorate to elect political leaders who starved the people because they did not know how to water the crops.

This is old satire.

But what about today’s real-life congressional leaders?

It’s no joke to watch social media companies stall over the past month as they give gunmen platforms to plot violence online. Even a live-streamed murder.

In the wake of the massacres, social media platforms have been rife with lies that the shootings were fake “false flag” operations staged by actors. Fake photos have been posted to mislead people into thinking a gunman is transgender.

And this comes on top of the daily flood of online hate speech, conspiracies, racism and outright lies that divides Americans.

This disinformation crisis demands a response from Congress to protect the American people from threats to democracy and national security.

But in the past month, Washington politicians have looked the other way, with Nina Jankowicz, a 33-year-old cybersecurity expert, forced to suspend efforts at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to warn Americans about lies, propaganda and propaganda. conspiracies on social media.

The online bullies he was tasked with monitoring forced him to leave.

He was “subjected to mischaracterizations on social media and websites [run by far-right operatives] With the aim of discrediting and attacking anyone who wants to challenge them,” The Washington Post writes.

Yankovic’s enemies have painted him as a potential censor with the power of dystopian writer George Orwell’s ominous “Big Brother,” the big government enforcer who decides what is true and what is false.

Pure nonsense.

No government official is authorized to take anything. The new body had no executive powers. It was simply an attempt to track down all the online junk found by various law enforcement agencies.

However, Republicans in Congress were playing politics. They accused the Biden administration of not anticipating spots from the right. And they blamed DHS for giving the new agency an awkward name: the “Disinformation Management Board.” Not a word about trolls or bots.

Leaks from major tech companies, congressional testimony, and news investigations over the past decade prove that the free market has failed to prevent the violence, smearing, fake images, and political manipulation allowed by social media companies like Facebook and Twitter. and Snapchat.

This leaves the government with the only viable path to the regulation and oversight necessary to prevent these companies from destroying democracy for profit.

I sympathize with the “slippery slope” argument. I hate censorship in any form, be it by government or private companies.

Twelve years ago, I was fired by NPR for telling my then-colleague Bill O’Reilly on Fox News that I was upset when I saw people wearing Muslim robes boarding planes in the days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. .

Acknowledging my personal fears, I had an honest discussion against online bigotry and fear over the construction of an Islamic mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks.

My goal was to prevent Americans from repeating the policy mistakes of denying constitutional rights to Japanese-Americans interned during World War II.

But my argument was lost on the politically correct crowd, who quickly labeled me an anti-Muslim bigot in need of psychiatric help.

As I wrote about that episode in my book, Muzzled – The Assault on Honest Debate, many people only want to hear news and opinion that confirms their previous point of view.

But there is a difference between disinformation and censorship.

Over the past decade, the internet has created a sanitizing feast of rage, hatred, and derision where people never hear a different point of view.

Now Congress says that constitutional protections of free speech prevent any move to curb online hate speech or, in the case of the Buffalo and Uvalde massacres, insult trolls who commit murder.

In the past, when foreign-controlled bots interfered in US politics, Congress refused to do anything. They are similarly silent on the use of the Internet by human traffickers for evil.

Research has shown that tech firms use algorithms to promote hateful, violent content because it’s addictive and makes money.

Meanwhile, Congress acts as if Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes never wrote that the Constitution’s free speech protections did not allow anyone to open fire in a crowded theater.

Today’s provocateurs scream worse online.

However, politicians stand idly by.

They refuse to challenge disinformation. They are moving away from white supremacist hatred against blacks, immigrants, Asians and Jews.

Online attacks continue from Uvalde to Buffalo and beyond. Some cause real gore and death.

This is not a movie – we are living the real “Idiocracy”.

Juan Williams is a writer and political analyst for Fox News.



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