Thoughts & Essays

Today: Bryan Carmody, Russian troll farms, Facebook, impeachment, & the 2020 campaigns

Today in shit I’m pissed/worried about, we’ve got the cops probably illegally screwing over journalist Bryan Carmody, some plans we’ve just discovered from Russian troll farms that show they’re targeting the racial divides in America, a bit about regulating Facebook (and other social platforms) and what that might look like, the powers the House gets when they start impeachment inquiries, and the 2020 campaign ad wars.

📰 CNN: In San Francisco, an attack on press freedoms and echoes of autocracy
In a whole bunch of states there are laws called “shield laws” that protect journalists from revealing their sources. California is one of those states.

Quick primer: Journalists mostly get news from sources, and sometimes those sources are breaking the law when they give journalists information. Even when they’re not breaking the law, sources can face serious consequences for giving information to journalists, up to and including the loss of their lives. Journalists have an ethical duty to protect their sources. This is how journalists end up in jail for refusing to reveal sources sometimes.

In states with shield laws (I think… 30? states have shield laws on the record? Something like that.) journalists are legally protected from being forced to reveal their sources.

So back on May 10, San Francisco cops raided the home of journalist Bryan Carmody and seized all his equipment in an attempt to discover his source on a story he wrote about the weird death of San Fran public defender Jeffrey Adachi. The raid was probably conducted with an illegal search warrant that the cops may have gotten by lying to the judge they got it from, among other problems with the situation.

If you love the idea of a free press, you should be up in arms about this happening.

🇷🇺 Vox: Secret documents show Russian plot to stoke racial violence in America
Russian troll farms are trying to use America’s racial tensions to incite violence in America, with the end goal of forcing a collapse of America.

Oh, pshaw, you say, with a dismissive wave of your hand. America won’t “collapse.”

Are you not paying attention? America is already collapsing. America has been in collapse for like 30+ years now. Get your heads out of your asses. This shit is real. It is not hyperbole. Get it together, America.

We are under attack. Russia is coming for us. So are other state actors. They’re using our own ignorance and biases against us and it is working.

📱 TechCrunch: What does ‘regulating Facebook’ mean? Here’s an example
Yes, social media needs to be regulated, including Facebook. Maybe especially Facebook. See above.

Lots of “social” platforms, as well as platforms like Google, with their search results and various algorithms, are passing along tons of outright disinformation. This isn’t about censorship; this is about stopping the spread of propaganda.

Right now Facebook and their ilk are refusing to moderate their platforms to stop the spread of various forms of propaganda and misinformation. When they’re called on it they sheepishly tuck their hands in their pockets and say Well, shucks, folks, that’s not our responsibility, that’s yours, and sure, they’re not entirely wrong there. Some of this is on us.

But not all of it, and certainly not the entire burden of it.

Regulate social media, people. Stop letting them get away with lying to us and allowing their platforms to be used for propaganda crusades just so they can make advertising money.

⚖️ Lawfare: What Powers Does a Formal Impeachment Inquiry Give the House?
House Democrats are muttering about impeachment again, as they should be.

I’ve said in the past that I didn’t think the House should impeach if they can’t get a conviction, but I’ve since changed my mind. I think Trump’s gonna beat Democrats to death with impeachment either way, so they might as well drag his ass through the hearings.

Also, when they fire up the impeachment engines, they get access to some extra legal powers. Here’s a look at what those are.

📱 Vox: Trump’s 2020 campaign is buying a whole lot of Facebook ads
The campaign ad wars are heating up, and Facebook is the front lines. Keep an eye on the posts you see in your newsfeed, and think critically about anything you see with the “sponsored” tag.