Juan Williams: Murder, lies and the net

Are we residing via the film “Idiocracy”? 

In that spoof, Americans were dumbed down by a diet plan of silly tv shows and stupid promotion, as properly as porn stars and wrestlers famous for being famous. That led voters to elect political leaders who took the country to the verge of starvation because they did not know to water crops. 

Properly, which is an old satire. 

But what can you say about today’s real life congressional leaders? 

It is no joke to look at them standing by in the last thirty day period as social media companies give platforms to gunmen to plan violence on-line. One even reside-streamed murder. 

After the massacres, the social media platforms featured lies about the shootings remaining phony “false flag” operations staged by actors. Fake photos were posted to mislead men and women into pondering 1 gunman was transgender.  

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

This crisis of disinformation demands a response from Congress to guard the American people against a danger to democracy and national security. 

But in the past thirty day period, Washington politicians looked the other way while Nina Jankowicz, a 33-calendar year-old cybersecurity professional, was pressured to halt her effort at the Division of Homeland Security (DHS) to alert Americans to the lies, propaganda, and conspiracies on social media. 

She was forced to quit by the online bullies she was assigned to management. 

She was subjected to “mischaracterizations throughout social media and websites [run by far-right operatives] with the purpose of discrediting and attacking everyone who seeks to problem them,” in accordance to The Washington Article. 

Jankowicz’ foes tarred her as potential censor with the ability of dystopian novelist George Orwell’s ominous “Big Brother,” a big government enforcer deciding what is accurate and what is wrong.  

Pure nonsense. 

No authorities official was given the electrical power to choose down anything. The new agency had no electricity of enforcement. It was basically an endeavor to hold observe of all the on the web trash getting found by many law enforcement agencies. 

Yet Republicans in Congress played politics. They blamed the Biden administration for failing to foresee smears coming from the ideal. And they faulted DHS for giving the new company an awkward name: “Disinformation Governance Board.” Not a word about the trolls or the bots. 

In the very last decade, leaked documents from large tech corporations, congressional testimony and information investigations all establish that the cost-free market place has not been in a position to control the bullying, smears, phony photos, and political manipulation being allowed by social media businesses like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.   

That leaves authorities as the only feasible route to the regulation and oversight essential to stop these businesses from destroying democracy for earnings. 

I am sympathetic to the “slippery slope” argument. I detest censorship in any variety, possibly from govt or from personal companies. 

Twelve years back, I was fired by NPR for telling my then-colleague Invoice O’Reilly on Fox Information that in the times after the terrorist assaults of September 11th, 2001, I got nervous when I noticed folks dressed in Muslim garb boarding an plane. 

By acknowledging my personal fears, I was making the scenario for sincere debate in the deal with of online bigotry and fearmongering about construction of an Islamic mosque near the internet site of the 9/11 attacks. 

My point was to prevent Americans from falling into plan mistakes once again, like the denial of constitutional rights for Japanese-Americans who had been interned during the Second Earth War. 

But my argument was lost on the politically proper crowd who immediately labeled me an anti-Muslim bigot in want of psychiatric support.  

As I wrote in my e book about that episode, “Muzzled — The Assault on Honest Discussion,” many men and women only want to listen to information and view that confirms their preexisting point of view. 

But there is a variation in between disinformation and censorship. 

For the very last decade, the world-wide-web has created a feast of disinformation, sending persons down rabbit holes of anger, hate and mockery where they never hear a different issue of see. 

Now Congress claims constitutional safety of absolutely free speech prevents any move to rein in online hate or, in the case of the Buffalo and Uvalde massacres, bullying trolls who carry out murder. 

In the previous, Congress refused to do something while bots beneath the control of foreigners interfered in U.S. politics. They are similarly silent about human traffickers working with the online for evil. 

Scientific studies have proven that tech firms employ algorithms to elevate hateful, violent information mainly because it is addictive, revenue-producing clickbait. 

In the meantime, Congress acts as if Supreme Courtroom Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes hardly ever wrote that the Constitution’s security of free of charge speech is not a license for any individual to yell fireplace in a crowded theatre. 

Today’s provocateurs yell much worse on the online. 

Nevertheless the politicians are standing idle. 

They refuse to confront disinformation. They glimpse away from the shower of white supremacist hatred toward Black men and women, immigrants, Asians and Jews. 

And from Uvalde to Buffalo and further than, the on the net attacks proceed. Some lead to real blood and dying. 

This is no film — we are living the genuine “Idiocracy.” 

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel. 

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