“Mark Changed The Rules”: How Facebook Went Easy On Alex Jones And Other Right-Wing Figures
Facebook’s rules to combat misinformation and hate speech are subject to the whims and political considerations of its CEO and his policy team leader.
In April 2019, Facebook was preparing to ban one of the internet’s most notorious spreaders of misinformation and hate, Infowars founder Alex Jones. Then CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally intervened.
Jones had gained infamy for claiming that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre was a “giant hoax,” and that the teenage survivors of the 2018 Parkland shooting were “crisis actors.” But Facebook had found that he was also relentlessly spreading hate against various groups, including Muslims and trans people. That behavior qualified him for expulsion from the social network under the company’s policies for “dangerous individuals and organizations,” which required Facebook to also remove any content that expressed “praise or support” for them.
But Zuckerberg didn’t consider the Infowars founder to be a hate figure, according to a person familiar with the decision, so he overruled his own internal experts and opened a gaping loophole: Facebook would permanently ban Jones and his company — but would not touch posts of praise and support for them from other Facebook users. This meant that Jones’ legions of followers could continue to share his lies across the world’s largest social network.
The Texas Freeze: Why the Power Grid Failed
The state’s electricity system was considered a model. This week’s outages revealed shortcomings in the market structure.
A fundamental flaw in the freewheeling Texas electricity market left millions powerless and freezing in the dark this week during a historic cold snap.
The core problem: Power providers can reap rewards by supplying electricity to Texas customers, but they aren’t required to do it and face no penalties for failing to deliver during a lengthy emergency.
That led to the fiasco that left millions of people in the nation’s second-most-populous state without power for days. A severe storm paralyzed almost every energy source, from power plants to wind turbines, because their owners hadn’t made the investments needed to produce electricity in subfreezing temperatures.
While power providers collectively failed, the companies themselves didn’t break any rules. Texas officials don’t require plant owners to prepare for the worst by spending extra money to ensure they can continue operating through severe cold or heat. The high prices operators can reap from such periods of peak demand were supposed to be incentive enough for them to invest in safeguarding their equipment from severe weather.
The Lost Hours: How Confusion and Inaction at the Capitol Delayed a Troop Deployment
As violence grew out of control on Jan. 6, the head of the Capitol Police made an urgent request for the National Guard. It took nearly two hours to be approved.
The above is a careful timeline. Nancy Pelosi did not hold anything up.
America’s Churches Are Now Polarized, Too
In religion as in politics, the legacy of Trumpism casts a long shadow.
On the first Sunday after the assault on the U.S. Capitol in January, the Rev. Bill Corcoran stood before his socially distant parishioners at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in suburban Chicago and finally, unambiguously, crossed the line.
“Over the past four years,” he said, “I have failed you by not speaking out when awful things were said and done.” He should have spoken up, he said, about Donald Trump’s abuse of women, his contempt for truth, his mocking of a disabled reporter, his denigration of political rivals, his disrespect for the parents of a dead soldier.
As everyone in the pews understood, Corcoran’s mea culpa implicated more than a lone parish priest. If Corcoran was wrong not to have denounced Trump’s bad words and deeds, what of the parishioners who had supported them, and then voted for more?Reaction was swift. A dozen congregants walked out of 7:30 Mass, Corcoran told the Chicago Tribune. Nearly two dozen at 9:30. About 30 more at 11:30. Corcoran was “rattled” as he watched members of his flock turn away, he told me in an email.
Naomi Klein/NY Times:
Why Texas Republicans Fear the Green New Deal
Small government is no match for a crisis born of the state’s twin addictions to market fixes and fossil fuels.
Put bluntly, Texas is about as far from having a Green New Deal as any place on earth. So why have Republicans seized it as their scapegoat of choice?
A Shock to the System
Blame right-wing panic. For decades, the Republicans have met every disaster with a credo I have described as “the shock doctrine.” When disaster strikes, people are frightened and dislocated. They focus on handling the emergencies of daily life, like boiling snow for drinking water. They have less time to engage in politics and a reduced capacity to protect their rights. They often regress, deferring to strong and decisive leaders — think of New York’s ill-fated love affairs with then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani after the 9/11 attacks and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Large-scale shocks — natural disasters, economic collapse, terrorist attacks — become ideal moments to smuggle in unpopular free-market policies that tend to enrich elites at everyone else’s expense. Crucially, the shock doctrine is not about solving underlying drivers of crises: It’s about exploiting those crises to ram through your wish list even if it exacerbates the crisis.
How Biden’s massive Covid relief bill was put on a glide path to passage
While Biden’s hope for GOP support on Capitol Hill has all but disappeared in the last several weeks, his enthusiasm for the proposal — and his view that despite its high price tag it will only serve to bolster Democrats as they remain unified — has hardly waned.Asked what he learned from his efforts to sell the proposal at a CNN town hall in Wisconsin earlier this week, Biden didn’t hesitate.
“I learned based on the polling data that they want everything that’s in the plan,” Biden said. “Not a joke. Everything that’s in the plan.”
As House Democrats prepare to push through the legislation next week, with Senate Democrats set to follow suit in short order, it’s a moment that underscores a confluence of factors on politics, policy and quiet, but wide-ranging, behind-the-scenes work that has nearly all gone Biden’s way.
Read this extraordinarily helpful thread on vaccine hesitancy and where it comes from: