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Bloomberg Debate Video Meme Has Social Media Titans Debating How to Police Political Speech

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Twitter and Facebook officials are unsure about what to do with a meme from Wednesday night’s Democrat primary debate that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s shared on his verified Twitter account.

The Hill reported that in the video the billionaire oligarch asks his rivals if they have ever launched a business. The video is a meme edited to show the other candidates being speechless on stage, with crickets chirping in the background.

A Twitter spokesperson informed The Hill on Friday, February 21, 2020 that the video would be labeled under the platform’s new manipulated media policy which will be unveiled on March 5. Under this new policy, Twitter may label or even delete media that is “deceptively” altered.

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On the other hand, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone revealed on Twitter that the same video posted on Facebook or Instagram would not receive the same label.

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Facebook’s policy on banning “deepfakes” — a term used to describe videos altered through the use of artificial intelligence, which appears to not be used in this case — includes exceptions specifically for satire.

The policy “does not extend to content that is parody or satire, or video that has been edited solely to omit or change the order of words,” Facebook claims.

Major social media platforms have been under fire for failing to take action on two viral edited videos. Once which involved footage of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slowing down to make her appear drunk and another video of former Vice President Joe Biden cut to make him look like he’s repeating white nationalist talking points.

In both cases, Facebook and Twitter did not take the videos down despite the outrage. Facebook featured the Pelosi video, while Twitter featured the Biden video.

Under Twitter’s new rules both videos would be labeled, whereas Facebook maintains that the aforementioned editing tactics are not in violation of its rules.

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Will Josh Hawley be the Next Champion for an America First Foreign Policy?

America First May Have its Next Leader to End Wars Abroad

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Does America First have a new non-interventionist champion?

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has been viewed by many as one of the figures who could potentially lead a Trumpist movement after Trump, should Joe Biden end up being installed as president on January 2021.

Hawley has made a name for himself as a champion of Middle America and questioning the neoliberal orthodoxy on immigration and trade. Lately, Hawley has made a pivot towards  questioning the interventionist conventional wisdom on foreign policy. 

In early October of this year, the Missouri Senator called for the American government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Hawley tweeted, “Almost 20 years now in Afghanistan. Long past time to draw this war to an end.”

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Hawley’s foreign policy has been a work progress over the past two years. During a 2019 speech Hawley gave at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), he questioned the nation-building policy prescriptions of previous administrations, demonstrating some degree of skepticism towards non-stop interventionism abroad on the part of the Senator.

That said, it remains to be seen if Hawley’s legislative record will fully match his rhetoric.

Hawley is a staunch China hawk, who fears the rise of China and is a strong voice against China’s expansionist efforts. Hawley’s track record shows that his foreign policy views are rough around the edges. Daniel Larison of The American Conservative is not as optimistic about Hawley judging by his votes on the Yemeni Civil War. Larison cited several of Hawley’s votes that may be cause for concern:

Sen. Hawley voted against the Senate’s resolution of disapproval that opposed the president’s effort to circumvent Congress with a bogus “emergency” to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More important, he voted with the president and most Senate Republicans against the antiwar Yemen resolution that would have cut off all U.S. support to the Saudi coalition.”

Nevertheless, Hawley’s comments on Afghanistan are a good sign that Hawley is catching on to the fact that Americans are tired of foreign wars. Politicians can change their views and behaviors. Hawley is likely recognizing that the America First movement is exhausted by the endless wars and wants candidates and elected officials who offer withdrawal plans. 

After looking at the list of people who have been tapped to join the Biden administration, Hawley tweeted, “What a group of corporatists and war enthusiasts – and #BigTech sellouts.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a fierce interventionist skeptic, maintained cautious optimism about Hawley. In a tweet, he commented, “All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting.”

The jury is still out on Hawley. Regardless of flaws in his voting record, America First advocates should continue to push him and other America First leaning Republicans in the right direction. We should never forget that politicians are still receptive to political pressure and the grassroots holds the keys to political change. 

Young senators like Hawley are the future of American politics and it makes sense for foreign policy restrainers to lobby them and push them in a direction that favors non-interventionism.

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