People’s Rights leader arrested for alleged law enforcement threats

A Las Vegas man linked to anti-government activist Ammon Bundy has been arrested for allegedly threatening the lives of a police detective and a prosecutor who both handle domestic terrorism cases.

Joshua Martinez, 32, who runs Bundy’s burgeoning People’s Rights network in Nevada, faces stalking and harassment charges related to the alleged social media threats against Metro Detective Kenneth Mead and Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Dickerson, according to a criminal complaint.

Dickerson obtained a felony gun conviction against Martinez in 2019, and Mead had a courtroom encounter with Martinez in that case. Martinez was sentenced to probation.

Last Wednesday Martinez posted a Facebook photo of a flag-draped coffin carried by uniformed officers with the caption, “How police officers take out their trash,” the complaint alleges. Next to the photo, Martinez said, “I can’t wait to see the news and hear that Detective Kenneth Mead is in that casket.”

Another post that day featured a photo of Dickerson with the statement, “This is Michael Dickerson. He is Detective Kenneth Mead’s bitch. Dickerson, I hope you and Mead die a slow and painful death… Mead, I have a message for you — Molon Labe.” The Greek phrase, which means come and take them, is regarded as an expression of defiance for some gun rights activists.

The complaint alleges that Martinez threatened Mead with the intent that Mead be “placed in reasonable fear of death or substantial bodily harm.”

In an interview with the Review-Journal days before his arrest, Martinez said his main effort with Bundy’s group was holding Las Vegas police accountable when they stop people on the streets. He has posted videos on social media of police during stops, sometimes challenging their actions.

“We don’t believe in bowing down to police,” he said. “We’re anti-corrupt government. Not just anti-government. We need government.”

Martinez, dressed in blue jail garb, chains and a mask, made a brief appearance in Las Vegas Justice Court on Tuesday. When a judge told him the district attorney’s office might have a conflict of interest in the case because Dickerson is one of the victims, Martinez responded “I’ve been targeted. I understand.”

A deputy public defender representing Martinez said she planned to raise the conflict issue in court papers.

Four felony charges

Martinez, who is being held at the Clark County Detention Center on $1 million bail, is facing four felony charges — aggravated stalking, challenge to a fight with use of a deadly weapon, stalking with use of the internet or electronic communication and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. He also faces two misdemeanor harassment charges.

Police found a shotgun they allege was in his possession when they executed a search warrant last week. His plea deal sentence in the 2019 gun case prohibits him from having guns.

Deputy District Attorney Eckley Keach, who is prosecuting the stalking case against Martinez, said his office is taking the threats seriously.

“The goal is to make sure that justice is done, not only for the named victims in this case but also to ensure that the community is protected against people who choose to threaten to harm others,” Keach said.

In a Review-Journal story on the broadening spectrum of extremismpublished Feb. 20, Martinez said that Bundy’s newest grassroots group, about 415 members strong in Nevada, prefers a “bullhorn” over violence.

“We try to keep things peaceful,” he said. “Ammon wants everything peaceful.”

But the criminal complaint alleges Martinez between June 1, 2017 and February 18, 2021 “unlawfully” engaged in social media conduct against Mead and Dickerson that “would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or harassed.”

On the day of the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot, Martinez posted on Facebook: “This is Detective Kenneth Mead with the Metropolitan Police Department. He is an enemy of the constitution and has tried to make my life a living hell but has failed. To any activist here in Las Vegas, please keep an eye out for him. I also have his resume just in case you want more intel on him. Contact me for more information.”

The post included three screen shots of Mead, according to the complaint.

History of violence

“In a later post, Martinez wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Martinez added more in the comments on that post: “How can you gain your rights back by working with a tyrannical government? You can’t take down the palace using the kings tools. Name a people who have gained their rights back by being peaceful. Violence is what moves history.”

Martinez has a history of creating disturbances at the federal courthouse in 2017 while supporting the Bundy family during the criminal case stemming from an armed standoff with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. In October 2018, he was found guilty of disorderly conduct, fined $500 and ordered to stay away from the courthouse.

Both Ammon Bundy and his father Cliven Bundy were among those charged in the April 2014 armed showdown near the Bundy ranch over the federal agency’s roundup of his cattle. But a federal judge later found government misconduct and dismissed the high-profile case.

The younger Bundy made headlines recently for anti-government actions in Idaho and elsewhere in the Northwest, as part of People’s Rights efforts to organize against coronavirus restrictions and other perceived government overreaches.

He told the Los Angeles Times that the new grassroots network had about 50,000 people in 35 states, and he described it as “neighborhood watch on steroids.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center suggested that Ammon Bundy is attempting to build a “network of right-wing, often anti-government activists” that can be mobilized quickly if needed.

Bundy also was regarded as one of the leaders of the deadly 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Source: People’s Rights leader arrested for alleged law enforcement threats

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Expresses Concern About COVID-19 Vaccines in Leaked Footage

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees Joint Hearing in Washington on April 10, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made comments last year about COVID-19 vaccines that clash with policies that his platform has implemented, leaked video shows.

Zuckerberg said in July 2020: “I do just want to make sure that I share some caution on this [vaccine] because we just don’t know the long-term side effects of basically modifying people’s DNA and RNA … basically the ability to produce those antibodies and whether that causes other mutations or other risks downstream. So, there’s work on both paths of vaccine development.”

Zuckerberg took a different stance when appearing in a virtual forum in November 2020 with Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading government scientist.

“Just to clear up one point, my understanding is that these vaccines do not modify your DNA or RNA. So that’s just an important point to clarify,” Zuckerberg said, prompting Fauci to say: “No, first of all, DNA is inherent in your own nuclear cell. Sticking in anything foreign will ultimately get cleared.”

Facebook didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The footage was published by Project Veritas, a journalism watchdog. It was allegedly from Facebook’s internal weekly question-and-answer session.

Zuckerberg’s Facebook has imposed harsh guidelines on what people can post about COVID-19, and banned or restricted a number of users for violating the policies.

Facebook earlier in February said it would take down any posts with claims about vaccines deemed false by health groups or its so-called fact-checkers.

vaccine shot
A health care worker prepares a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center inside the Blackburn Cathedral, United Kingdom, on Jan. 19, 2021. (Molly Darlington/Reuters)

Facebook stated in a blog post, “Today, following consultations with leading health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), we are expanding the list of false claims we will remove to include additional debunked claims about the coronavirus and vaccines.”

The list includes “claims that the COVID-19 vaccine changes people’s DNA.”

Administrators for some groups will be required to greenlight all posts if the groups have been labeled problematic in terms of posts that have been made.

“Claims about COVID-19 or vaccines that do not violate these policies will still be eligible for review by our third-party fact-checkers, and if they are rated false, they will be labeled and demoted,” the company stated.

Footage showing Zuckerberg commenting privately on various issues has been made public before by Project Veritas. In one clip, he praised President Joe Biden’s early executive orders “on areas that we as a company care quite deeply about and have for some time.”

“Areas like immigration, preserving DACA, ending restrictions on travel from Muslim-majority countries, as well as other executive orders on climate and advancing racial justice and equity. I think these were all important and positive steps,” he said.

Facebook banned former President Donald Trump in January while Trump was still in office. Trump remains blocked from the platform.

Source: Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Expresses Concern About COVID-19 Vaccines in Leaked Footage

Facebook Hires NATO Press Officer as Intelligence Chief

Feature photo | George Washington University School of Media & Public Affairs | Additions and editing by MintPress News

Ben Nimmo, a former NATO press officer and current senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, has announced Facebook has hired him to “lead global threat intelligence strategy against influence operations” and “emerging threats.” Nimmo specifically named Russia, Iran and China as potential dangers to the platform.

His announcement was greeted with joy by several NATO officials but was not met with such enthusiasm by others. “More censorship on the way as the former NATO press officer turned Pentagon-funded ‘researcher’ who labeled real people as Russian bots and peddled disinformation to link Jeremy Corbyn to Russian active measures moves to big tech,” responded investigative journalist Max Blumenthal.

Nimmo’s questionable past certainly raises questions over whether such an official having a substantial say in what 2.8 billion Facebook users worldwide see in their feeds is such a positive step for the free and open exchange of information.

“Disinformation agents”

For example, in 2019, U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn revealed secret Conservative Party documents showing negotiations the Tory government had with the U.S. over the privatization of the National Health Service (NHS). With just days to go before the U.K. general election, the scandal could have toppled the government and brought into power the most radical antiwar, anti-establishment government in the country’s history. Corporate media went into overdrive to spin the news, and Nimmo was a key part of this, immediately announcing, without evidence, that the documents “closely resemble…a known Russian operation.” His supposedly expert conjecture allowed the story to become “Corbyn’s links to Russia” rather than “Tories privatizing the NHS in secret.” Nimmo’s work helped the Conservatives to an election victory and consigned Corbyn to the scrapheap.

This was much to the relief of Nimmo’s Atlantic Council, who had brandedCorbyn the “Kremlin’s Trojan Horse” — someone pushing Moscow’s agenda abroad. A British Army general was of a similar opinion, claiming that if Corbyn were to win the election, the military would respond. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said that the U.S. government was “doing its best” to prevent a radical leftist from winning power in the U.K.

Nimmo has been extremely liberal with whom he labels Russian disinformation agents. In 2018, his research identified one Twitter user, @Ian56789, as a “Kremlin troll.” In reality, the user, Ian Shilling, was a British pensioner, as Sky News was easily able to confirm, interviewing him on air and asking him the patently absurd question if he was actually a Russian bot or not. Despite clearly being a flesh and blood human, Shilling’s account was later deleted anyway.

In the past, Nimmo has also insisted that Ruslana Boshirova was an influential Russian bot. In reality, she is an internationally known concert pianist, as one Google search would have shown. This sort of behavior does not augur well for those critical of Western foreign policy, who have faced constant harassment, suspension, or outright bans from social media.

Pro-war putsch

The Atlantic Council began as an offshoot of NATO itself and maintains extremely close connections to the military alliance. It continues to receive major funding from Western governments and weapons contractors, and its board of directors is filled to the brim with senior American statespersons, such as Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Henry Kissinger. Also appearing on the board are no fewer than seven former CIA directors and a number of top military generals, such as Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, Wesley Clark, and David Petraeus.

In recent years, the council’s employees have penetrated deep into big tech and social media organizations. In 2018, it announced it had partnered with Facebook to aid in the curation of Facebook news feeds of users worldwide, giving it considerable power over what sort of views to highlight and which to demote. One year previously, Jessica Ashooh left the position of the council’s Deputy Director of Middle Eastern Strategy to take the position of Director of Policy at Reddit, the eighth-most visited website in the United States. However, as with many intelligence agencies, it is unclear whether one truly “leaves” the Atlantic Council.

It is not just Russia that is in NATO’s crosshairs. Last week, the Atlantic Council published an anonymous, 26,000-word report stating that their goal for China was regime change and advising President Biden to draw a number of “red lines” around it, beyond which the U.S. would respond militarily. Meanwhile, the head of STRATCOM, Admiral Charles A. Richard, wrote that the U.S. must prepare for a potential nuclear war with Beijing.

Greater control

The military escalation has been mirrored by an intensifying online propaganda war, where the U.S. has attempted to isolate China economically and stop advancing Chinese technologies such as Huawei’s 5G network, mobile phone, and semiconductor manufacturer Xiaomi, and video sharing app TikTok. Nimmo has played his part in ramping up suspicions of nefarious Chinese activity online, claiming the existence of a wide-ranging pro-Beijing bot network encouraging Americans to believe that China has handled the COVID-19 pandemic far better than the United States. That Americans might have come to that conclusion on their own appears not to have been considered.

There is an enormous government effort to convince its population of the existence of (foreign) government efforts to manipulate their opinions online. In a massive case of projection, Western governmental organizations point the finger at their enemies, all the while securing greater access and control over the means of communication themselves, to the point where it is now difficult to distinguish where the deep state ends and the fourth estate begins. Nimmo’s move from NATO to NATO-aligned think tank to Facebook is just another example of this phenomenon. Perhaps the reason Nimmo is not looking for any Western influence operations online is that he is part of one.

Source: Facebook Hires NATO Press Officer as Intelligence Chief

A Digital Apartheid Is Upon Us

Facebook, Google, and Twitter logos are seen in this combination photograph. (Reuters)

Commentary – John Mills

Col. (Ret.) John Mills is a national security professional with service in five eras: Cold War, Peace Dividend, War on Terror, World in Chaos, and now—Great Power Competition. He is the former director of cybersecurity policy, strategy, and international affairs at the Department of Defense.

It started innocuously. It was an acceptable drag coefficient from Facebook, just be careful what you say politically when you post something.

The quick and seemingly inexpensive brown boxes from Amazon were addictive, so just accept the sneers and derision of the self-appointed newspaper of record (subsidized by Jeff Bezos, the common owner of both).

Tweet away but be careful next time you were released from the penalty box.

Search all you want with Google, just ignore the first 100 returns that were algorithm-ed to shape your world view.

It’s been 10 years since the kindred dalliance between the Obama Administration and the titans of Silicon Valley began to form and solidify. I point to 2010 and the summer push for Cybersecurity legislation as when the alliance began to take shape.

The initial encounters were tepid and taken initially with baby steps, but now it’s difficult to tell the difference between the Democrat administrations and Big Tech. Now we know there is a price for this lifestyle we became accustomed to and the gleeful surrender of our data. You will be deleted if you do not conform.

Instead of working our alternative worldview and the cyber infrastructure to enable it over the last 10 years, we willingly traded freedom for convenience. Now what do we do to counter-act this groveling obeisance we’re forced into when we’re the majority of the population? We need to walk away and build our own future.

Lawfare

The foundational battleground of societal warfare waged by the public/private progressive alliance is the legal battlefield. Social progressives have refined this capability to an efficient, highly effective, and ferocious art form. The alliance between the Democrat administrations and Big Tech aligned further with a legion of non-profit organizations that are highly lawyerized and have a very mature, repeatable model on how to leverage civil rights laws and environmental laws far beyond their original letter, spirit, and intent.

Cancel culture, massive coercion of the business environment, and intimidation of public figures (with some exceptions) is the current high point of this art form. This progressive alliance has used lawfare as the vanguard of their color revolution to take over America.

I would posit one of the initial groups that refined lawfare from the left was the Southern Poverty Law Center. From that successful model, other activist groups moved onto other cause celebs such as the Nuclear Freeze movement of the 1980’s, the take down of Big Tobacco in the 1990’s, and endless environmental browbeating that goes into attack mode when science is used to upend their litigation gravy train. It will never end—why not? It’s been very successful (and very profitable).

Those being faced with this Digital McCarthyism need to relentlessly establish their own legal take down strategy, just like they did against Big Tobacco. Using the spirit of the Civil Rights movement and the 1964 Civil Rights Act (CRA) they must develop, refine, test, and improve the arguments that demonstrate that although political speech is not a protected class in the CRA, the sheer volume and magnitude of Big Tech’s actions are beginning to negatively affect substantive portions of protected classes established in that law.

Some states do provide some forms of protection in relation to political views. There should be more development of the use of the Rico Act, Equal Protection, and Anti-Trust arguments. It will take time and there will be some court losses, but just like they did, we need to relentlessly return over and over and over again, building upon little legal successes here and there. There is money to be made in these cases and after some success is shown that will release a ravenous pack of trial lawyers upon Big Tech.

Our Own Data Storage

Creating alternative hosting environments for data (i.e. data centers where our data is often stored) is perhaps an action more within immediate reach in the near future. There may be big names in data center hosting such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), but alternatives do exist. This is becoming more and more of a market-based commodity, so steering clear of providers inclined to be partisan combatants is wise.

The mobile access to our data (smart phones, tablets, etc.) is a little more challenging. The two current dominant environments are Android and Apple (IOS). With that dominance comes the ability to essentially determine which apps are compatible and which are allowed to operate in their environments.

In the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 chaos in Washington D.C., Twitter conducted great purges of users. Many immediately moved to Parler. Parler made a bad decision and assumed their App would be offered and maintained on these environments. When Android and Apple made decisions to not offer or maintain the Parler App, it brought Parler to an immediate halt.

Gab, Rumble, and others had developed their environments to be more old-school, web-based, and independent of Android and Apple and soon took many of the Twitter to Parler refugees. The scent of coordination between Twitter, Android, and Apple gives an opening to an anti-trust lawfare counterattack.

As dominant as Android and Apple may seem right now, their pre-eminence does not stretch that far into the past. And believe it or not, there are rising alternatives. In the fast-paced tech world, the peak of dominance is a transitory vapor that can come and go quickly.

Mobile alternatives are in the making, we have to vote with our dollars to help accelerate this evolution. Disruptive events such as 5G are always opportunities for those companies more agile, hungry, and adaptive. Android and Apple need to watch their rear-view mirrors.

Financial Systems

The growing partisan behavior by financial system providers to enforce their worldviews is perhaps the most disturbing part of recent events. This thinly veiled social activism, may have started by targeting gun sales, but is becoming a standard part of financial firm social activism and is being applied across a larger target set in support of broader issues.

Access to capital is the lifeblood of businesses and citizens, and social activists know this. These financial providers are showing bolder willingness to asphyxiate any form of opposition. The financial sector not only introduced measures to limit conservatives, but at the same time, provide support to activist groups such as BLM.

The all-in nature of these financial firms is craven. Because of this, a clarion call is sounded to establish new financial firms to ensure the full spectrum and diversity of society is serviced. Bank of America started small to ensure migrants received access to capital and financial services. It can be done again.

Taking from one of Jeff Bezo’s toys, let’s make sure democracy and our incredible republic do not die in the darkness of this oppressive Digital Apartheid.

We can begin this journey in simple things such as web browsing using alternatives such as Dissenter, Brave, and DuckDuckGo instead of the web browser that must not be named. The current Tech Titans started out small and grew giant. With a little bit of our coordinated effort they can be retired and become remembered only as questions in future versions of nostalgia trivia games. The sooner we start, the sooner it will happen.

Retired Col. John Mills is a national security professional with service in five eras: Cold War, Peace Dividend, War on Terror, World in Chaos, and now, Great Power Competition. He is the former director of cybersecurity policy, strategy, and international affairs at the Department of Defense. @ColonelRETJOHN

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Source: A Digital Apartheid Is Upon Us

Trump Mulling Whether to Launch Own Social Media Platform, Says Jason Miller

Then-President Donald Trump greets the crowd at the "Stop The Steal" rally in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Senior adviser to former President Donald Trump, Jason Miller, said on Saturday that Trump is deciding how he will reemerge on social media, including considering whether to create his own platform.

“I would expect that we will see the president reemerge on social media,” Miller told Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125.

“Whether that’s joining an existing platform or creating his new platform, there are a number of different options and a number of different meetings that they’ve been having on that front. Nothing is imminent on that.”

When pressed for more information about Trump’s social media plans, Miller said“all options are on the table.”

“A number of things are being discussed. So stay tuned there because you know he’s going to be back on social media. We’re just kind of figuring out which avenue makes the most sense,” he said.

Trump, who has been one of the most active presidents on social media, was permanently suspended from Twitter and remains indefinitely banned from Facebook following the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol. The targeted policing of Trump’s posts occurred throughout his presidency and ramped up following the Nov. 3 election, when the former president and his team repeatedly joined calls to independently review the integrity of the results in several states.

Other platforms such as YouTube, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), and Snapchat have also banned the former president from using their platforms.

The social media companies justified their censorship as an effort to guard against violence, claiming that Trump had violated their terms of use. Their move to prevent Trump from expressing his views on the platforms came after the media, lawmakers, and other critics blamed the former president’s remarks for inciting violence, which they claim led to the riots on Jan. 6.

In the upcoming Senate impeachment trial, Trump’s team plans to defend the former president by arguing that the trial is unconstitutional and that he was exercising his First Amendment rights when he made a speech on Jan. 6.

Trump had addressed a crowd in Washington D.C. as Congress met to count electoral college votes where he reiterated allegations about election irregularities and potential fraud, and his dissatisfaction with the media and several lawmakers. In his speech on Jan. 6, Trump called out supporters to “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard at the U.S. Capitol.

The breach at the U.S. Capitol began before Trump had finished his speech at the rally, according to a timeline compiled by The Epoch Times. As the incident escalated, Trump continued his urge for peace and respect for law enforcement throughout the afternoon.

Following the incident, Trump condemned the “violence, lawlessness, and mayhem,” saying that those who “infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy.”

“This is a very, very dangerous road to take with respect to the First Amendment, putting at risk any passionate political speaker,” David Schoen, one of Trump’s impeachment defense attorneys, previously said of the new round of efforts to impeachment Trump.

The Justice Department and FBI had also said that they had charged protesters who conspired to breach the U.S. Capitol days before the incident, a detail that challenges the argument put forward in many media reports that Trump’s speech on Jan. 6 was the impetus for the violence. Meanwhile, the pipe bombs that were planted at the RNC and DNC headquarters on Jan. 6 were believed to be placed there the night before the riots, law enforcement bodies have said.

This week, media outlets began speculating whether Trump had joined the social media website Gab after the account realdonaldtrump, which is the same handle as Trump’s Twitter account, posted a copy of the letter Trump’s lawyers wrote to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the House of Representatives’ lead impeachment manager.

Miller denied that the account is being used by the former president. Meanwhile, Gab said in a statement on Twitter that the account was “a mirror of POTUS’ tweets and statements that we’ve run “for years.”

“We’ve always been transparent about this and would obviously let people know if the President starts using it,” Andrew Torba said in a statement on Gab.

Source: Trump Mulling Whether to Launch Own Social Media Platform, Says Jason Miller

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Praised Biden’s Executive Orders: Leaked Video

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees Joint Hearing in Washington on April 10, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Newly leaked video from an internal Facebook meeting shows CEO Mark Zuckerberg praising executive orders issued by President Joe Biden in his first day in office.

“I thought President Biden’s inaugural address was very good,” Zuckerberg said in the Jan. 21 meeting.

“In his first day, President Biden already issued a number of Executive Orders on areas that we as a company care quite deeply about and have for some time,” he added. “Areas like immigration, preserving DACA, ending restrictions on travel from Muslim-majority countries, as well as other Executive Orders on climate and advancing racial justice and equity. I think these were all important and positive steps.”

Biden issued a record number of executive orders in his first days in office as he strove to reverse actions taken by former President Donald Trump.

The video was leaked to Project Veritas, a nonprofit watchdog, by someone the group described as a Facebook insider.

Epoch Times Photo
Former President Donald Trump (L) and President Joe Biden in file photographs. (Getty Images)

The group also leaked a clip of Zuckerberg disparaging Trump at a Jan. 7 meeting.

“It’s so important that our political leaders lead by example, make sure we put the nation first here, and what we’ve seen is that the president has been doing the opposite of that,” Zuckerberg said at the time. “The president intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power.”

“His decision to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters in the Capitol I think has rightly bothered and disturbed people in the U.S. and around the world,” he added.

Trump gave a speech on Jan. 6 as protesters turned violent at the U.S. Capitol about two miles away. Trump told supporters to go to the building but urged them to remain peaceful. After protesters stormed the Capital, he released videos asking them to leave and condemned the violence.

Facebook didn’t respond to a request for comment. The social media company took a number of punitive actions against Trump in the lead-up to the November 2020 election and ultimately banned him from its website, claiming he was condoning rather than condemning the actions of his supporters. Facebook appeared to take no action against Biden, despite the Democrat issuing a number of misleading posts before and after the election.

Source: Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Praised Biden’s Executive Orders: Leaked Video

Media Company Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google, Facebook

The logos of mobile apps Facebook and Google on a smartphone in Sydney, Australia, on Dec. 9, 2020 (The Epoch Times)

A media company that operates several West Virginia newspapers is suing Google and Facebook for threatening the extinction of local newspapers across the country by their alleged anticompetitive business practices.

HD Media Company this week filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to determine whether the two Silicon Valley companies had violated anti-trust laws. The lawsuit claims Google had unlawfully exercised monopoly power of the digital advertising market, which has prevented newspapers from competing in the market and losing their primary source of revenue.

It also claims that Google and Facebook had “unlawfully conspired to engage in anticompetitive conduct,” through an alleged secret deal nicknamed “Jedi Blue.” Details of the alleged agreement were first revealed when 10 state attorneys general sued Google for multiple violations of federal and state antitrust and consumer protection laws.

According to a redacted version of the lawsuit (pdf) filed in December, Facebook announced in 2017 that it would try a new method of selling online advertising called “header bidding,” which would act as a threat of competition for Google. The lawsuit suggested Facebook eventually “curtailed its involvement” with the project after Google gave Facebook “information, speed, and other advantages in the [redacted] auctions that Google runs for publishers’ mobile app advertising inventory each month in the United States.”

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, who both say they’ve reviewed an unredacted version of the complaint, reported the alleged secret deal referred to in the lawsuit was code-named “Jedi Blue” by Google.

HD Media’s lawsuit claims that as a result of Google and Facebook’s alleged anticompetitive and monopolistic practices, newspapers in West Virginia and across the country are facing “a very real existential threat to their existence.”

“Without redress, these newspapers, and hence the citizens of West Virginia, may well end up in the ‘news desert,’” the lawsuit states (pdf).

It claims that Google’s monopoly has created an uneven playing field to compete for online advertising revenue. It says Google had integrated itself through numerous mergers and acquisitions to “enable dominion over all sellers, buyers, and middlemen in the marketplace.”

“The freedom of the press is not at stake; the press itself is at stake,” the filing states.

“As a result of falling revenues, newspapers are steadily losing the ability to financially support their newsrooms, which are costly to maintain but provide immense value to their communities. A robust local newsroom requires the financial freedom to support in-depth, sometimes years-long reporting, as well as the ability to hire and retain journalists with expertise in fundamentally local issues, such as coverage of state government.”

Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

HD media is seeking an order that declares Google and Facebook’s actions violated the law and blocks them from further engaging in such conduct. It also seeks damages for any injury caused.

HD media owns and operates newspapers such as The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington and Cabell County, the Charleston Gazette-Mail, The Wayne County News, The Putnam Herald, the Williamson Daily News, The Logan Banner, the Coal Valley News in Boone County, and The Independent Herald in Pineville.

Source: Media Company Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google, Facebook

Apple CEO Escalates Battle With Facebook Over Online Privacy

The Apple logo is seen on the window at an Apple Store in Beijing, China, on Jan. 7, 2019. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

SAN RAMON, California—Apple CEO Tim Cook fired off a series of thinly veiled shots at Facebook and other social media companies Thursday, escalating an online privacy battle pitting the iPhone maker against digital services that depend on tracking people to help sell ads.

“Too many are still asking the question ‘how much can we get away with?’ when we should be asking ‘what are the consequences?’” Cook said.

Speaking at a virtually held International Conference on Computers, Privacy & Data Protection, Cook said it’s “time to stop pretending that this approach doesn’t come with a cost—of polarization, lost trust and yes, of violence.”

Cook never specifically named Facebook or any other company. But his remarks left little doubt that his missives were aimed at the social media sites.

“A social dilemma cannot be allowed to become a social catastrophe,” Cook added, referring to a Netflix documentary about technology’s—and especially social media’s—corrosive effects on society. That film took square aim at Facebook and how its algorithms manipulate its nearly 3 billion users to get them to look at the ads that generate most of its revenue.

China-US-Apple
Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the Economic Summit held for the China Development Forum in Beijing, China, on March 23, 2019. (Ng Han Guan/AFP/Getty Images)

Cook’s broadside came as Apple prepares to roll out a new privacy control in the early spring to prevent iPhone apps from secretly shadowing people. That puts the feature on course to come out after a more than six-month delay aimed at placating Facebook and other digital services that depend on such data surveillance to help sell ads.

Although Apple didn’t provide a specific date, the general timetable disclosed Thursday means the long-awaited safeguard known as App Tracking Transparency will be part of an iPhone software update likely to arrive in late March or some point in April.

After delaying the planned September introduction of the safeguard amid a Facebook-led outcry, Apple had previously said it would come out early this year. Apple released the latest schedule update as part of Data Privacy Day.

Apple has been holding off to give Facebook and other app makers more time to adjust to a feature that will require iPhone users to give their explicit consent to being tracked. Analysts expect a significant number of users to deny that permission once it requires their assent. Currently, iPhone users are frequently tracked by apps they install unless they take the extra step of going into iPhone settings to prevent it.

“Technology does not need vast troves of personal data, stitched together across dozens of websites and apps, in order to succeed,” Cook said. “Advertising existed and thrived for decades without it.”

Epoch Times Photo
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Oct. 23, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

As a supplement to Cook’s remarks, Apple also released an 11-page report to illustrate how much apps can learn about their users in daily life.

Facebook stepped up its attacks on Apple’s new privacy control last month in a series of full-page ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other national newspapers. That campaign suggested some free digital services will be hobbled if they can’t compile personal information to customize ads. On Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg questioned Apple’s motives for the changes, saying the iPhone maker “has every incentive” to use its own mobile platform to interfere with rivals to its own messaging app.

“Apple may say that they are doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track their competitive interests,” Zuckerberg said.

Google, which also relies on personal data to power the internet’s biggest ad network, hasn’t joined Facebook in its criticism of Apple’s forthcoming controls on tracking. Google profits from being the default search engine on the iPhone, a prized position for which it pays Apple an estimated $9 billion to $12 billion annually.

But Google warned in a Wednesday blog post that Apple’s new controls will have a significant impact on the iPhone ad revenue of other apps in its digital network. Google said a “handful” of its own iPhone apps will be affected by the new requirement, but plans to make changes to them so they won’t be affected by Apple’s new controls. It did not identify which apps.

“We remain committed to preserving a vibrant and open app ecosystem where people can access a broad range of ad-supported content with confidence that their privacy and choices are respected,” wrote Christophe Combette, group product manager for Google Ads.

Source: Apple CEO Escalates Battle With Facebook Over Online Privacy

Facebook Vows to Permanently Stop Recommending Political Groups

Facebook logo displayed on a tablet in Lille on Aug. 28, 2019. (Denis Charlet/AFP via Getty Images)

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday the platform will stop recommending political and civic groups to its users, in an effort to “turn down the temperature and discourage divisive conversations.”

The social media company announced in October that it had taken “emergency measures” to stop recommending those groups to U.S. users in the run-up to the presidential election. According to an analysis by tech site The Markup, however, the platform continued to recommend political groups to its users throughout December, most often to Trump voters.

Zuckerberg said on Wednesday the policy will be made permanent and apply to the users in the rest of the world.

“We’re continuing to fine-tune how this works, but now we plan to keep civic and political groups out of recommendations for the long term, and we plan to expand that policy globally,” Zuckerberg said during a conference call.

“This is a continuation of work we’ve been doing for a while to turn down the temperature and discourage divisive conversations.”

The CEO also vowed to take steps to reduce the overall amount of political content that users see in their news feed.

Zuckerberg said although political posts only account for a “pretty small minority” of Facebook’s content, he felt “a lot of things” have become politicized and that politics has “had a way of creeping into everything.”

“One of the top pieces of feedback that we’re hearing from our community right now is that people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services,” he said.

Zuckerberg’s renewed promise comes after Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) condemned certain political groups on Facebook as “breeding grounds for hate” and “venues for coordination of violence.”

“Facebook must explain the apparent discrepancy between its promises to stop recommending political groups and what it has delivered,” Markey wrote in a letter to Zuckerberg, citing The Markup’s report that found 12 of the top 100 groups pushed by Facebook were political.

Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it was removing all content that contains “stop the steal,” a phrase used by supporters of former President Donald Trump to question the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.

The social media company said that the move was an attempt to remove content that “could incite further violence” ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“We’ve been allowing robust conversations related to the election outcome and that will continue,” Facebook officials Guy Rosen and Monika Bickert said in a statement. “But with continued attempts to organize events against the outcome of the U.S. presidential election that can lead to violence, and use of the term by those involved in Wednesday’s violence in D.C., we’re taking this additional step in the lead up to the inauguration.”

Source: Facebook Vows to Permanently Stop Recommending Political Groups

Facebook Hires Biden Transition, Obama Admin Official as VP of ‘Civil Rights’

White House Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity Roy Austin at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 11, 2015. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Facebook has hired Roy Austin, former Obama administration official and a member of President Joe Biden’s transition team, as the social media company’s vice president of Civil Rights and deputy general counsel.

Austin used to serve as civil rights prosecutor and supervisor in the Department of Justice (DOJ) before becoming a deputy assistant to President Barack Obama for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity in 2014. In 2017, he went into private practice as a criminal defense and civil rights attorney at Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis. In November, Biden named him as one of the volunteers on the Agency Review Team for the DOJ in his transition.

It’s not clear what will be Austin’s specific responsibilities at Facebook. The company didn’t respond to a request for further details and an attempt to reach Austin for comment was unsuccessful.

“I am delighted to welcome Roy to Facebook as our VP of Civil Rights. Roy has proved throughout his career that he is a passionate and principled advocate for civil rights—whether it is in the courtroom or the White House,” said Facebook General Counsel Jennifer Newstead in a Jan. 11 release.

“I know he will bring the same wisdom, integrity, and dedication to Facebook. It’s hard to imagine anyone better qualified to help us strengthen and advance civil rights on our platform and in our company.”

Austin’s appointment underscores the closeness of Facebook to the Biden administration.

Former Facebook associate general counsel Jessica Hertz was the Biden transition’s general counsel and is his new White House staff secretary. Jeffrey Zients—Biden’s coronavirus czar—used to serve on Facebook’s board of directors in 2018-2020. Austin Lin, a former program manager at Facebook, was on one of Biden’s agency review teams before reportedly being tapped for a deputy role at White House’s Office of Management and Administration. Erskine Bowles, a former Facebook board member, reportedly advised the transition team.

Hertz, Zients, and Lin used to hold roles in the Obama administration. Bowles served as President Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff.

Facebook chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, gave $500 million to election officials ahead of the 2020 election for measures such as ballot drop boxes and mail-in voting described as tools to make voting safer amidst the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. The grants violated election laws and were distributed unevenly, favoring Democrat-heavy areas, according to The Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society, a constitutional litigation organization.

Austin was to start his role at Facebook on Jan. 19, based in Washington, D.C., the company said.

“I am excited to join Facebook at this moment when there is a national and global awakening happening around civil rights,” Austin said in the release.

“Technology plays a role in nearly every part of our lives, and it’s important that it be used to overcome the historic discrimination and hate which so many underrepresented groups have faced, rather than to exacerbate it. I could not pass up the opportunity to join a company whose products are used by so many and which impacts the civil rights and liberties of billions of people, in order to help steer a better way forward.”

His referral to “underrepresented groups” raises the ghost of political bias, as the underlying reasoning has been tied to tech companies enforcing their content rules unevenly.

Facebook moderators were told, for instance, that prohibited “Hate Speech” against certain groups was to be left alone under some circumstances as long as it aligned with the company’s agenda, according to a 2018 memo to moderators working at Cognizant, a firm that at the time contracted with Facebook to shoulder part of the content policing.

“Anything that is DELETE per our Hate Speech policies, but is intended to raise awareness for Pride/LGBTQ” was to be temporarily allowed, the post stated, specifying that “this may occur especially in terms of attacking straight white males.”

In 2019, Facebook updated its policy to allow “threats that could lead to death” against those on the company’s list of “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations.”

Aside from groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and individuals tied to Nazism, Facebook also placed on the list people such as populist commentator Paul Joseph Watson and conservative activist Laura Loomer.

After backlash, Facebook quietly removed the exception from the publicly available version of its policy, but this change was never communicated to its content moderators, and, in practice, the exception remained in place, according to Zach McElroy, who used to work as a Facebook moderator at Cognizant.

Facebook isn’t the only tech company that seems to interpret its own policies unevenly.

Google tweaked its products to promote what the company considered the interests of “historically marginalized” groups, according to insider documents and recordings.

The approach aligns with the tenets of the quasi-Marxist critical theory, which divides society into oppressors and the historically oppressed based on characteristics such as race and gender along the lines of Marxism’s class division.

Source: Facebook Hires Biden Transition, Obama Admin Official as VP of ‘Civil Rights’