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Fauci’s Direct Line to Zuck Proves Facebook COVID Censorship Was All About Power, Not Public Health
The ugly picture of collusion between the feds and social media platforms around COVID just got a whole lot uglier. Recent filings from a lawsuit by the Louisiana and Missouri attorneys general against the Biden administration reveal that Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg gave Dr. Anthony Fauci his personal phone number shortly before the platform started to crack down on alleged COVID misinformation.
Is this how The Post — and many others — got banned, throttled or labeled as purveyors of misinformation for merely raising the possibility (as we did in a prescient February 2020 op-ed) that COVID originated from an accidental lab leak in Wuhan?
Leveraging state power and cozy relationships with Big Tech to suppress stories that might implicate muck-a-mucks like Fauci for spectacularly bad judgment (in this case, championing funding for viral gain-of-function research in China) is deeply unethical.
These new revelations about Fauci’s direct line to the man steering Facebook prove beyond a doubt that efforts to stamp down the lab-leak theory had nothing at all to do with public health or safety — and everything to do with back-channel deals among the elite.
Canadian Man Helps Vaccine Injured, Loved Ones Share Their Stories on Social Media
Tiago Henriques, a seasoned artificial intelligence expert who noticed that news of adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines were highly censored in the media, decided to create a Facebook group that lets the vaccine-injured and their loved ones share their stories.
Most Facebook pages on vaccine side effects and adverse events get removed very quickly by the social media platform, managing to get only a few thousand followers. With technical skills and the use of methods that stay within the confines of Facebook’s terms of service, Henriques and his team managed to keep their page up much longer, getting over 245,000 followers to date.
The Facebook group “Died Suddenly News” was created in late June 2021. Members of the private group share personal stories of people they know who have developed serious medical conditions or even died shortly after receiving the COVID-19 shots.
Henriques, who programs in languages such as Python, PyTorch, and TensorFlow, says his team has respected Facebook’s terms of service but is aware that even then their page may still be targeted and shut down. He is in the process of creating a separate platform that is not prone to censorship by social media companies.
Aaron Rodgers Says California’s Strict COVID Rules Destroyed Small Businesses in His Hometown
In an episode of Bill Maher’s “Club Random” podcast, Rodgers calls out the state of California for strict social distancing and mask guidelines in 2020 and 2021, according to a preview of the episode shared by SFGate ahead of its Sunday premiere.
An estimated 40,000 small businesses in California were closed in September 2020, more than in any other state since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a report published by Yelp. At the time, half of these companies were permanently shuttered, the report said.
A Day in the Surveilled Life
I will begin with a hot take: the Francis Ford Coppola movie with the most to say to us in 2022 is not The Godfather, not Godfather II, but The Conversation. Gene Hackman plays Harry Caul, a surveillance expert who overhears something he shouldn’t, and is in turn spied upon.
The movie ends with Harry destroying his own apartment — tearing down the walls, ripping up the floorboards — in search of a listening device he knows is there, but never finds. The last, iconic shot shows him sitting in a chair in his underwear, playing the saxophone in the ruins of his home and his privacy.
Almost 50 years later, it’s an image that’s prescient and quaint at the same time. Prescient because the notion that someone powerful is watching and/or listening to us, even in our most mundane, domestic moments, has gone from a tenet of hipster paranoia to an uncontested fact — a multi-billion-dollar postulate of twenty-first-century life.
The quaint part is that Harry Caul, or any of us, would mind that much. We participate in the process of our own surveillance every day. The devices that record us aren’t buried in our walls (well, sometimes they are, but we’ll get to that later): we strap them to our wrists, put them on our fingers, carry them in our pockets and install them in our homes.
New Zealand Drops Mask and Vaccine Mandates in Sweeping COVID Changes
Mask-wearing will no longer be mandatory in public places, and the last vaccine mandates will be ditched in two weeks under sweeping changes announced by the prime minister on Monday.
However, the government is sticking by a seven-day isolation period for people with the virus, defying calls to shorten isolation to five days.
From Tuesday, mask-wearing will only be compulsory in healthcare settings, excepting mental health services. Also gone are the few remaining vaccine mandates, for workers and inbound travelers. Tests on arrival in New Zealand are no longer required but encouraged.
China Quarantines College Students Under Strict COVID Policy
The 488 students at Communication University of China, along with 19 teachers and five assistants, were transferred by bus beginning Friday night.
Quarantining anyone considered to have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus has been a pillar of China’s strict “zero-COVID” policy. The quarantine centers include field hospitals as well as converted stadiums and exhibition centers that have been criticized for overcrowding, poor sanitation and spoiled food.
Xinjiang Lockdown: Chinese Censors Drown out Posts About Food and Medicine Shortages
Chinese censors have reportedly been ordered to flood social media with innocuous posts about Xinjiang to drown out mounting complaints of food and medication shortages in a region under lockdown for more than a month.
The Ili Kazakh autonomous prefecture, also known as Yili, is home to about 4.5 million people and is believed to have been first put into lockdown in early August, without official public announcement, after an outbreak of COVID-19. In recent days social media has hosted reams of posts about food shortages, delays or refusals of medical care.
But according to a leaked directive published by the China Digital Times, censors were told to “open a campaign of comment flooding” to drown them out.
Twitter Slams Elon Musk’s Third Attempt to Get out of the Deal as ‘Illegal.’ Next up, More Musk Texts Could Be Made Public and the Whistleblower Will Testify.
Twitter said on Monday in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that Elon Musk‘s third attempt to cancel his $44 billion agreement to buy the social media company is “invalid and wrongful.”
On Friday, the billionaire’s legal team sent its third notice to Twitter attempting to call off the purchase agreement. In the letter, Musk’s lawyers argued that a recently reported $7.75 million severance payment given to Twitter whistleblower and ex-security chief Peiter Zatko breached the deal.
The social media company said it plans to continue to force Musk to go through with the deal at the original price.
Zatko is due to testify about his complaint on Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has also been subpoenaed for the Twitter lawsuit. Meanwhile, Twitter shareholders are set to vote on Tuesday whether to green light Musk’s acquisition. Twitter’s board of directors has urged shareholders to approve the sale.
Mark Zuckerberg Is ‘Continuing to Derail’ Facebook, Says Harvard Expert: ‘He’s Really Lost His Way’
Mark Zuckerberg’s shortcomings as CEO are “continuing to derail” the tech giant formerly known as Facebook, according to Bill George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School and former CEO of medical technology company Medtronic.
In short, George says bosses that lose sight of their most deeply held beliefs, values and purpose as a leader — especially in the name of money, fame or power — are doomed to fail. And after decades of researching high-profile corporate collapses, he says he sees striking similarities to Zuckerberg and Meta today.
Zuckerberg and Meta did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment. The Meta CEO is largely responsible for his company’s meteoric growth to this point, transforming the company he co-founded in 2004 into a tech giant with a $450.46 billion market cap, as of Monday morning.
The FTC Is Closing in on Runaway AI
Teenagers deserve to grow, develop and experiment, says Caitriona Fitzgerald, deputy director at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a nonprofit advocacy group.
They should be able to test or abandon ideas “while being free from the chilling effects of being watched or having information from their youth used against them later when they apply to college or apply for a job.” She called for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to make rules to protect the digital privacy of teens.
Hye Jung Han, the author of a Human Rights Watch report about education companies selling personal information to data brokers, wants a ban on personal data-fueled advertising to children. “Commercial interests and surveillance should never override a child’s best interests or their fundamental rights, because children are priceless, not products,” she said.
Han and Fitzgerald were among about 80 people who spoke at the first public forum run by the FTC to discuss whether it should adopt new rules to regulate personal data collection, and the artificial intelligence fueled by that data.
Jack Dorsey’s Former Boss Is Building a Decentralized Twitter
When Twitter emerged in 2006, with its revolutionary 140-character microblogging platform, it didn’t take long for it to grow into the most powerful force in global information transmission. The site effectively cut out the middleman, loosening established media’s grip on shaping public opinion.
Donald Trump, formerly the most powerful person in the world, co-opted the unfiltered platform until Twitter silenced him in January 2021. Elon Musk, the wealthiest person on the planet, seriously considered buying it.
But there’s that whole great power/great responsibility equation and a growing chorus of people from decentralization idealists to governments to ticked-off consumers who feel that control of the world’s leading social networks by a few for-profit corporations is bad for society.
One of Twitter’s most outspoken critics is Evan Henshaw-Plath, 45, a little-known coder, who was Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s boss at a small tech platform called Odeo when they first started working on what was to become the microblogging site.
In August, Henshaw-Plath joined a group of 450 collaborators, privacy advocates, crypto-anarchists, libertarians and others at Camp Navarro in the towering Redwood Forest of Northern California to plot how to take back social media and the Internet itself.