Can social media giants stop an insurrection before it happens? | January 29, 2021 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 29, 2021

Can social media giants stop an insurrection before it happens?

Panel of Stanford cyberpolicy experts discuss ramifications of leading tech companies' ban of the former president

by Lloyd Lee

After the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 by a faction of Donald Trump supporters, major social media companies took the unprecedented step of banning a sitting U.S. president from their platforms.

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Editorial Assistant Lloyd Lee can be emailed at [email protected]


Posted by jr1
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 28, 2021 at 10:30 am

jr1 is a registered user.

The simple answer is no. In a free society, you have fringe groups on both sides, that may step outside the acceptable norms.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 28, 2021 at 11:04 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Facebook refused to censor Steve Bannon, former Trump advisor and Breitbart commentator and convicted rip-off artist, when he called for Democrats' heads to be put on pikes yet FB routinely censors left-wing sources.

When the right is called out for inciting violence and then gets TEMPORARILY silenced after events like the violent insurrection in DC, they call it "cancel culture" and say let's move on in the name of "unity" and put a Congresswoman calling for the execution of Pelosi and other Dems and stalking Parkland shooting victims on the EDUCATION Committee.

We all know well-meaning techies who went to Facebook to clean up the disinformation mess and who've quit in disgust because there's no high-level support to clean it up. Hate sells.

Posted by R. Cavendish
a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2021 at 11:26 am

R. Cavendish is a registered user.

the solution is simple. the social media platforms need to moderate and censor/delete incendiary/defamatory postings.

since the internet platforms are property of its owners, first amendment/free speech rights do not apply.

sensationalism sells and social media bears 95% or more of the blame for allowing incendiary dogma to be displayed publically.

they should take a cue from Palo Alto Online and simply remove the threads/postings that stir up unnecessary antagonism.

and if anyone has a problem with that, they can start their own private forum on any of the free online offerings currently available.

Posted by Bud Green
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 28, 2021 at 11:48 am

Bud Green is a registered user.

Not all insurrections are equal. A one day Capitol 'insurrection' gets more ink that the months long 'insurrection' that got their own mural--complete with picture of a cop killer--painted on a Palo Alto street. Anyone lose their social media accounts over that?

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 28, 2021 at 12:10 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Post the election there are protests in Portland, Oregon where the protestors are just mad and who is president is irrelevant to them. If Portland held back on the assumption that the protestors were Trump then that is now obvious that they are not Trump and not Biden. Those people should be put in jail since their protest is about creating chaos. That is going to hurt the tourist trade and any serious desire to start a business there.

Posted by Context matters.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2021 at 12:29 pm

Context matters. is a registered user.

I think it is time to hold tech companies responsible for false information they willfully and broadly distribute to millions. Their business model--a decision to elevate the voice of every person who wants to sound off, whether or not their opinion is based on reality--is irresponsible, and they need to be held accountable for it. Tech leaders can start by paying the bill for the Capitol cleanup and damages to the families whose loved ones were killed or injured in the insurrection. The overgrown children who run these tech companies should be held responsible for the damage they are doing.

In the past, misguided, radicalized voices did not get elevated by a press that edited for facts before printing. The tech companies do not want to thoughtfully edit because they have created a vast empire that relies on using FREE content created by any idiot with an opinion--no matter how hateful or ill informed. They can't possibly edit for facts on that scale. Their algorithms will never be adequate--and they won't care until they are held accountable by law for the damage they are doing to our society.

Libel laws should be adapted to hold these companies and their top level management responsible for misinformation that they broadly publish. Meaningful repercussions should ensue. That might motivate Facebook, Twitter and their ilk to hire editors, investigative journalists and fact check before they forward tweets, gossip and propaganda with millions/billions of people. Sadly, acting responsibly and editing would cost money and time --which evidently is less important to them than the stability of the society we share.

Shame on them. Shame on us for participating. Walk away from social media. Buy a good newspaper. Fund investigative reporting. Send a message to these tech companies that they need to find a new model if they want our support. They are accessories in a crime against us all. They should be held accountable.

Posted by citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2021 at 4:12 pm

citizen is a registered user.

I think the line was crossed a long time ago, when T*** retweeted something from a rightwing government official saying "The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat." That should have gotten him banned right there and then. But everyone had become so numb to the constant violent language, bullying, and harassment spewing from the top.

(He does it because it protects him -- if he calls for someone he doesn't like to be "locked up" enough, then it mutes any due calls for him to be locked up, in spite of actual crimes he may have committed. Think about it, he has over and over again accused others of what he is guilty of, including Republicans accusing Democrats of being motivated by partisanship to get them to cower away powerless while Republicans act from pure partisanship over the good of the country.)

I think a lot of people felt traumatized by the constant bullying, so really want it to stop for good. That said, Fox News is still at it. They set the stage with their false constructed reality and daily attacks on their made up liberal strawmen, and daily lies and exaggerations. Their misinformation continued without a beat after the capitol insurrection and the election.

I don't understand why no one is dealing with that issue. Fox opinion hosts keep the misinformation machine going, and that works its way through the magaverse and other platforms. The underlying problem is the false alternate "reality" the opinion hosts, Roger Ailes, and Rupert Murdoch have spent years framing. It's gotten to where family lost to that cult can't even handle an easily verifiable fact that disputes the framing, the cognitive dissonance is too great.

The Fox (and Republican -- see Stuart Stevens book) culture of industrial lying for power and money is the underlying problem I'm so glad for some relief from the constant bullying in the public space -- Facebook and Twitter are private companies who should have stopped it long ago.

Posted by AlexDeLarge
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2021 at 4:19 pm

AlexDeLarge is a registered user.

"It's like Orwell's 1984 all over again." - Yogi Berra

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2021 at 4:56 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Since he's no longer president, does he have any desire to tweet? Is being banned from Twitter that big of a deal?

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 28, 2021 at 5:01 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Yes and yes. You might have noticed that he craves attention, loves to incite his base and isn't too hot on facts. Remember it was his admin that coined the phrase "alternate facts" to defend lies.

Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2021 at 5:20 pm

YP is a registered user.

Hopefully social media giants will also ban BLM leaders that advocate for vandalism , looting and violence against police.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 28, 2021 at 5:25 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Absolutely. And Holocaust deniers, conspiracy theorists who deny that school shootings happened and who terrorize the surviving kids and the parents who've lost kids in the shootings, QAnon ... in short all violent nuts and liars

Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2021 at 5:40 pm

YP is a registered user.

And also ban those that spread false Russian collusion conspiracy stories to de-legitimize Trumps 2016 election. As we know after years of investigation the Mueller report could find no collusion. So let's go back and find everyone who pushed that theory and punish them by banning them from social media.

Posted by R. Cavendish
a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2021 at 6:25 pm

R. Cavendish is a registered user.

all things considered, we now have 4 political leanings.

(1) Trump Republicans, (2) conventional Republicans, (3) moderate Democrats, and (4) progressive Democrats.

If all four factions were to nominate their own presidential candidate, the Electoral College will be rendered useless (or an anacronism) as 270 votes will be hard to come by.

chances are a Trump-leaning Republican candidate will emerge in 2024 as will a progressive Sanders/Warren/Cortez Democratic candidate.

American voters will then have a choice reflective of their personal core values and perhaps the popular vote will become established as the determinant.

so which faction will you be voting for?

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2021 at 10:13 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I’m not on Twitter but look at it occasionally. I gather they made a fortune off Trump’s inanity, vulgarity & etc.
I think the big social media platforms need to be broken up, so their power of influence is greatly reduced.
Overall, a lot of it is junk....
A return to professional journalism at the top of the news/communication heap would be the best thing along with a more educated open minded populace.

Posted by James
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 30, 2021 at 10:58 am

James is a registered user.

75 million voted for Trump. To say that they are all radicalized is just another version of saying "deplorables". It is condescending and an insult to American people.

Posted by R. Cavendish
a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2021 at 11:15 am

R. Cavendish is a registered user.

quote: "75 million voted for Trump. To say that they are all radicalized is just another version of saying "deplorables". It is condescending and an insult to American people."

∆ concurring as there was was substantial representation by the Republican middle class at the DC riots including lawyers, nurses, realtors, fire-fighters, former members of the military, business owners, a CEO of a data analytics firm, and a state legislator.

for 2024 and if Trump opts not to run for the presidency, a popular conservative editorial personality such as Fox News' Sean Hannity would make for a strong Republican ticket along with maybe Donald Trump Jr. as his running mate with Ivanka Trump later chosen to be Secretary of State, Eric Trump as Secretary of Commerce, and Jared Kushner as National Security Advisor.

2024 is not that far away and as we have seen, anything is possible nowadays.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 1, 2021 at 11:37 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

My opinion is that the great political brains that are paid big bucks to direct political movements understand that there has to be a cohesive war chant to mobilize the masses and herd them forward. That has materialized in WW1, WW2, Vietnam, and Civil Rights - 1960's. Then lacking a theme there was Donald Trump whipped into a war chant of hate. Have to say he did not always help himself with his twitters but reality is his policies have helped America, and with the oil lines helped Canada - which is where a lot of the oil is coming from. We have Covid now whipped into a political machine.

So now the war gods are busy occupying themselves with a "theme" which at the moment is another impeachment.

Then What? Mr. Schiff and Ms. Spier are now rattling the war chant to get involved in the Armenian situation currently in process. Mr. Schiff's district is an Armenian strong hold with a major Consulate in that location - Burbank. And Ms. Spier is a first generation American citizen with Armenian and German roots. So the people that direct this fountain of public opinion then get spun through the generational eyes of FB and Twitter.

Mr. FB has his own generational opinion of where the world is going, and Mr. Twitter looks like a homeless person. SNL got to make fun of his beard - a good laugh there for them lacking things to snicker about.
Pay attention to what the current wars are - most are productions used to mobilize the masses. Assume that we are goats and sheep - herd away. Pay attention to what leaders are selling - usually a distraction.

Posted by citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2021 at 11:49 am

citizen is a registered user.

Your statement of "no conclusion" is just wrong. Time put together a very good article about 11 Myths about the Mueller Report that just won't die, and the first myth is of "no collusion".
Web Link

Mueller also said they didn't charge the potus because of the justice department saying you couldn't charge a sitting potus, he specifically said the report did not exonerate the potus of crimes.

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