Election Coverage / Government Watch / Opinion / Politics

Big Mistake – Social Media Blocking Biden Emails

biden emails social mediaA complex story is unfolding – based on discovery of a hard-drive belonging to the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.  On that hard-drive are emails that appear to confirm activities by both men – potentially criminal, at least highly untruthful.  Revealed by a newspaper, the story was suppressed by social media outlets. See, e.g., https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2020/10/14/election-interference-facebook-suppressing-new-york-post-bombshell-story-of-damaging-hunter-biden-emails/.

Cries of foul by Trump supporters, who can see no legal basis for suppressing evidence of untruthfulness and potential criminality before an election have triggered an avalanche of pre-election activity.

First, the outcry to republish the facts continues. That outcry was met by counter-cries that emails could be true-but-hacked.  The counter-counter-cry is that the source is known and honest, no evidence of hacking exists, and if even hacked, facts matter.  The information is of enormous “public concern.”  See, e.g., https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2020/10/yes-the-hunter-biden-emails-are-authentic-by-larry-c-johnson.html; and https://www.foxnews.com/politics/hunter-biden-emails-senate-homeland-security-committee-investigating-hard-drive-laptop.

Second, potential misuse of power and political bias by social media companies has inflamed the US Senate.  Pre-election hearings are planned, letters to the FBI multiplying.  Likely to focus on antitrust regulation and civil liability, they will delve into information suppression. See, e.g.,  https://apnews.com/article/election-2020-donald-trump-amazoncom-inc-media-misinformation-831341e1d56e48b5100375a2fd9d27b6; and https://www.foxnews.com/politics/senate-republicans-call-on-twitter-facebook-bosses-to-testify-amid-censorship-claims-say-subpoena-in-the-works; and  www.dailywire.com/news/numerous-lawmakers-send-letter-to-fbi-director-demanding-answers-about-hunter-biden-laptop.

The backdrop for these hearings is a report – dating back months – calling for regulation of social media giants and ending liability exemptions in section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.  The latest incident is salt in the wound, raising the stakes for social media outlets, suggesting a need for accountability. See, e.g., https://www.nationalreview.com/news/senate-republicans-take-aim-at-liability-protections-for-social-media-companies-ahead-of-november-election/.

Third, in concert with new civil liability – for libel, tort, contract, election law violations – the Republican National Committee is suing at least one social media outlet for “in-kind” political donations to Biden, via suppression of the incriminating emails. See, e.g., https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politics/tyler-o-neil/2020/10/16/rnc-files-fec-complaint-twitter-gave-in-kind-contribution-to-biden-campaign-n1064081.

Fourth, new evidence is emerging – suggesting the FBI may have had access to the incriminating hard-drive and emails in late 2019, as the impeachment process was unfolding.  If incriminating emails were available, the source known, and they offered exculpatory material – which would have assisted in the President’s defense – the question is, why were they not made available at the time?  See, e.g., https://www.foxnews.com/politics/house-gop-fbi-hunter-biden-laptop; and https://www.foxnews.com/politics/hunter-biden-emails-giuliani-attorney-fbi.  At hearings – perhaps in other contexts – the FBI Director will have to answer.

Fifth, a wider question hangs over this entire discussion – like a giant umbrella.  What role should increasingly powerful social media platforms play in the future.  Should they be regulated, subject to civil lawsuits, antitrust law, broken up, held to a higher standard of care than at present?

Does exercising editorial control and manipulating third-party content change their legal status and obligations to the public?  Should they remain exempt from civil liability as “interactive computer service” organizations – a provision intended to nurture a onetime fledgling industry – or have they outgrown that protection?

If they can selectively suppress information on matters of public concern, potentially influencing a presidential election by content control, what implications does that have?  Where do they fit, if at all, into public forum law? See, e.g., https://mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/824/public-forum-doctrine.  They are not government, but their power is considerable, verging on monopoly or oligopoly.

Finally, in some ways, all these questions vector to a simpler question.  What is social media?  Is it more like television or telephone, newspaper editor or delivery boy, email domain or public bulletin board?

Has social media become so powerful that – in effect – it is a “public forum,” and must be managed that way, even though not formally part of the government?  Is it like a public park – or use of private space for public speaking – and if so, what kinds of restrictions are reasonable?  If it must block criminal activity, can it also block political opinions with which private owners disagree?  Is that reasonable?

Unfortunately, just as we enter the swift current of an enormously important national election, these questions have popped again.  They are legal, but also political – and not likely to be resolved before the election.

In time, the Biden story will be known, Senate hearings held, Section 230 scrutinized, election violations decided, antitrust regulation and civil liability reconsidered, FBI behavior reexamined, and social media put under bright lights.

What all this activity reminds us is that – like it or not – we live in a complex world, characterized by fast, concentrated, unaccountable, increasingly manipulable communications technology – on which we all depend.

Implications are social, professional, legal, and political.  They raise profound questions of trust – in modern technology and who controls it, the integrity of our institutions and democratic process, as well as how we relate to each other.

In time we will sort these questions out.  But presently, evaluating the Biden email revelations and what they mean – we are at a disadvantage.  The law is unsettled, complex and needs to be resolved – but the election is just days away.

While the First Amendment is sacrosanct, manipulation of highly sensitive content – credible news that can affect an election – by powerful, unregulated, legally sheltered “interactive computer services” should be forbidden.  Time is short.  Facts matter. The full story should be out – and social media should help get it out.

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Steven Meisels
11 months ago

More than ever, we need President Trump to win, so he may open up the dikes of the swamp and drain it. If not, the our country will turn into a banana republic. Heaven help us and our great nation.

Joyce Gibson
11 months ago

ALL NEWS MEDIA (INCLUDING LIBERAL) SHOULD INCUDE INFORMATION JOE BIDEN’S CORRUPTION SCANDAL PRIOR TO ELECTION. The American people have the right to know the evil things he has done. He was the one involved in Russia, China, etc. and they impeached President Trump, who was innocent. THESE SCANDALOUS ACTS BY THE U. S. CONGRESS HAVE TO STOP IMMEDIATELY. Biden should not be allowed to run for President and neither should Kamala Harris. WE NEED TO RE-ELECT PRESIDENT TRUMP AND KEEP THE SENATE AND RE-TAKE THE HOUSE IF OUR COUNTRY IS TO SURVIVE AND REMAIN THE CHRISTIAN, DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY OF OUR FOREFATHERS. It is pathetic that so many of our men and women died for this Country in World Wars, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam to have the democrats in this country try to destroy that for which they fought and died.

RJB
11 months ago

As an AMAC member i have tried to engage our member about many different subjects this forum as given it’s members. We are given an ability to express our view about what ever is on our minds at the moment. Trump looks at solutions to problems as much as identifying the problems. This whole forum seems to quite good at problem identifying the problem some what lacking in putting solutions on the table. “We the People” become nothing more than a group think mob as the Democrats have. They have turned the media all types, education systems all types, government systems all types into institutions of group think institutions. They have hidden agendas with hidden leaders not answerable to WE THE PEOPLE. The only to defeat your enemy is to KNOW them for who they are and destroy them as they have implied and even stated the will destroy you. So my point is Shoe received 105 + to his or her post which identified the problem which is the vast majority under this post. So my question is other than vote what are the 105 + going to do to protect AMERICA from corrupt FBI, IRS, LOCAL GOVENORS MAYORS, ALL SOCALISTS, ANTI CHRISTIAN ORGS, JOE BIDEN, KAMALA HARRIS, NBC, CNN, ABC, ABC AND ALL LEFT TECH COMPANIES. WILL YOU LOVE THEM AWAY FOR THAT WILL NEVER WORK AS HISTORY HAS PROVEN. HILLORY IS FREE FOR WE NO LONGER HAVE AND EQUAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. OUR FOUNDING FATHERS FAUGHT AGAINST THE GREATEST POWER ON EARTH AT THE TIME. EVERYTHING IS ON THE TABLE AS EVIL SCHUMER SAID I BET HE DOESN’T THINK HIS LIFE IS ON THE LINE. I TAKE THREATS VERY SERIOUS SO IF MY LIFE IS, SO IS HIS, SO SOLUTIONS ARE MANY AND IT IS TIME LET HIM KNOW AND ALL LIKE HIM EVERY EVERY EVERY THING IS AS HE STATED ON THE TABLE. FREEDOM IS NOT FREE, FOUDING FATHERS PAID WITH THEIR BLOOD. SLAVERY WAS ONLY STOPED WITH BLOOD. JESUS DID NOT DIE ON A CROSS TO FOSTER SOCIALISM, OR SLAVERY, HIS BLOOD WAS SHED FOR THESE SINS AS ALL EVIL ISIAH 5:20

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Shane Milam
11 months ago

This Country better wake up , this is getting really bad , the corruption & total unethical disrespect for the office of the Presidency. Could we all just find some civility & pride for this ongoing experiment we call the United States of America . I will keep on praying !

Roseann Riddle
1 year ago

Since this is an impeachable offense, and if indeed Harris is ineligible to be President due to her parents not being US citizens at her birth, and I believe Nancy Pelosi would be the next in line if Biden were peached, does that put us in a position of checkmate? Either let him stay, or have Pelosi step in?

BAE
1 year ago

Mr. Biden is power hungry and greedy; got his son to do the dirty work and he takes 50% of the money.
Disgusting and unbelievable; you cannot make this stuff up. Mr. Biden is soooo dishonest.

Bill Brown
1 year ago

First Remove every DemocRat (RED), then we can eliminate all RINO’s – the “old line” Republicans.  Join the Trump Movement – The American Revolution 2.0!!!  Become a Counter-Revolutionary!!!  Stand-up for Our Republic!!!!  Remove Every DemocRat!!!!!

Bill Brown
1 year ago

The DemocRats, The Media, Teachers Unions, etc. try to make us believe they are invincible!  They ARE NOT!  Push back against the bullies!! Join the Trump Movement – The American Revolution 2.0!!!  Become a Counter-Revolutionary!!!  Stand-up for Our Republic!!!!  Remove Every DemocRat!!!!!

Bill Brown
1 year ago

Get our Children our of Public Schools and turn-off Mainstream Media!  Become a Free American!!  Join the Trump Movement – The American Revolution 2.0!!!  Become a Counter-Revolutionary!!!  Stand-up for Our Republic!!!!  Remove Every DemocRat!!!!!

Bill Brown
1 year ago

What is happening today is exactly why OUR Founders wrote and passed the 2nd Amendment!!  If we are not willing to fight for OUR Country, we do not deserve to have it!!  There are STRONG indications that the “Left/Communists/DemocRats are planning some sort/level of THE “Reign of Terror” when President Trump wins reelection!!  Join the Trump Movement – The American Revolution Version 2.0!!!  Become a Counter-Revolutionary!!!  Stand-up for Our Republic!!!!  Remove Every DemocRat!!!!!

Bill Brown
1 year ago

If we all get out and VOTE, YES we, the true AMERICAN Citizens CAN win back the House and hold the Senate!  Join the Trump Movement – The American Revolution 2.0!!!  Become a Counter-Revolutionary!!!  Stand-up for Our Republic!!!!  Remove Every DemocRat!!!!!

Bill Brown
1 year ago

Get Judge Barrett approved NOW!! Next, take all this CRAP directly to the Supreme Court.  It is time for All Americans to “WAKE-UP” and TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK!!!!  Appoint General Flynn to head the FBI!!  Join the Trump Movement – The American Revolution 2.0!!!  Become a Counter-Revolutionary!!!  Stand-up for Our Republic!!!!  Remove Every DemocRat!!!!!

Bill Brown
1 year ago

This has gone too far! Christopher Wray MUST be fired TODAY!! He has now proven himself to be a Communist Goon!!! Shame! Shame! Shame! Just as “Hanoi Jane”, Wray has NO RIGHT to call himself an American!!! It is time for All Americans to “WAKE-UP” and TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK!!  !!  Join the Trump Movement – The American Revolution 2.0!!!  Become a Counter-Revolutionary!!!  Stand-up for Our Republic!!!!  Remove Every DemocRat!!!!!

David B.
1 year ago

This is a prime example of just how corrupt our Gov’t has become. All the “insiders” have profited greatly while we have to fight over toilet paper! The distractions come one after another to keep us from noticing the treasonous crimes committed by the people we have elected. While some evil world gov’ts are out to see the U.S.A. fail, we have enemies within doing us daily harm, and Trump seems to be the only thing standing in their way! It’s scary and enraging and infuriating all at the same time.

RJB
1 year ago

NO JUSTICE NO PEACE ARE YOU HEARING BARR AND FBI IF YOU DO NOTHING THIS WAR WILL BE ON YOU

RJB
1 year ago

BRING A KNIFE TO OBAMA KNIFE FIGHT HE GAVE YOU WARNING

RJB
1 year ago

IF ANTIFA AND BLM CAN KILL AND BURN WHAT THEY HATE THE REST OF AMERICA CAN KILL AND BURN WHAT IT HATES

RJB
1 year ago

ANTIFA HAS A RIGHT TO BURN WHAT THEY HATE THE REST OF AMERICA CAN FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE

RJB
1 year ago

TIME TO BURN AND REMOVE CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, AND, ALL ANTI GLOBALEST NEWS MEDIA IF THEY KEEP WEPONIZING A FREE PRESS

Joann M Evjen
1 year ago

What frustrates me is that nothing is ever done. Does any of these crimes ever get prosecuted? Seems like the left are never charged with their wrong doings. Plus the media not reporting it.

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