The media and Silicon Valley are once again pushing hysteria about “disinformation” to control online speech, while big tech billionaires are guilty of these very same practices. Journalists aggressively push the impeachment narrative against President Trump, while at the same time warning that all efforts to discredit their theories are bot-driven. This media-driven hysteria about disinformation does little to help the public–it only empowers Big Tech monopolies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft’s to dictate our news and information.
“As impeachment looms, disinformation experts are bracing for a fresh cyclone of chaos, complete with fast-twitch media manipulation, droves of false and misleading claims, and hyper-polarized audiences fiercely clinging to their side’s version of reality,” the New York Times’ Kevin Roose declared .
CNN reporter Oliver Darcy claims Trump counts on an “online army of trolls” to spread his preferred point of view.
Whenever disinformation is discussed, the solution often resides with the tech giants. Big Tech must protect innocent Americans from the dangers of non-mainstream media.in his new book Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age, Microsoft CEO Brad Smith touts “NewsGuard” as a “nutrition label” for the internet which tells you whether stories linked on “Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Bing” are “trying to get it right or instead has a hidden agenda or knowingly publishes falsehoods and propaganda.”
NewsGuard reviews online news content and rates it based on “journalistic criteria,” which is judged by liberal NGOs. This idea may sound like a good idea, but this app specifically discriminates against conservative content and touts dubious mainstream media reporting. Several Breitbart stories are listed with a red icon, while Rolling Stone’s infamous “A Rape on Campus” is awarded a green icon. NewsGuard also rated other debunked stories–such as the phony story about Russia hacking Vermont’s power grid and Trump changing the name of black history month–as credible.
NewsGuard doesn’t safeguard credible information–it only smears independent media while upholding the arrogance of the establishment media.
Unfortunately, tech giants, especially Microsoft, love the extension. In 2018, Microsoft announced it would partner with NewsGuard as part of its “Defending Democracy Program.” Microsoft’s announcement insisted that the partnership “will empower voters by providing them with high-quality information about the integrity and transparency of online news sites.”
“The objective is not to preclude access to any news content – an approach that would conflict with our nation’s free speech principles – but rather to empower readers with additional information on the source and reliability of that content as they consume and/or share it,” the tech giant said of NewsGuard’s dubious service.
However, Microsoft seems remarkably unconcerned with the disinformation spread by its own associates. Reid Hoffman, the founder of Microsoft-owned LinkedIn, spent $750,000 to spread disinformation in the 2017 Alabama Senate race. This effort– designed to resemble Russian disinformation campaigns–planted false evidence that Republican Roy Moore was supported by Russian bots and encouraged Alabama voters to select someone else for senator.
Hoffman is more responsible for disinformation influencing an American election than conservative media or “Russian trolls,” yet Microsoft only cares about suppressing the side that doesn’t support liberal positions.
Americans are right to be worried about the spread of disinformation spread by bad actors. But the mainstream media and Big Tech want to exploit this legitimate concern to suppress their political and business rivals. Instead of using their monopoly power to impose its own Ministry of Truth on the country, Silicon Valley should get its own house in order.
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