A functioning, robust democracy requires a healthy educated, participatory followership, and an educated, morally grounded leadership.
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Twitter rolled out an update to its “crisis misinformation policy” on Thursday, saying it will put a warning label on posts about the conflict in Ukraine that fit certain criteria, limiting their ability to be seen, shared or liked. The announcement comes just a day after the resignation of US government’s “disinformation czar” Nina Jankowicz, who had advocated for the ability to edit other people’s tweets.
The policy will be applied globally and guide Twitter’s efforts to “elevate credible, authoritative information,” and “help to ensure viral misinformation isn’t amplified or recommended by us during crises,” said Yoel Roth, the company’s head of Safety and Integrity.
As soon as there is evidence that something posted “may be misleading,” Twitter will label it with a notice and won’t amplify or recommend it in the Home timeline, Search, and Explore tabs. Warning notices will be prioritized for “high profile accounts” such as those designated “state-affiliated media,” verified users, and official government accounts.
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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into 11 of the 26 organizations backing an effort to prevent fellow billionaire Elon Musk from taking over social media platform Twitter, according to data shared with Breitbart by the Foundation for Freedom Online (FFO).
Among the 11 Gates-backed organizations reportedly spearheading the effort to sandbag Musk’s Twitter acquisition by pressuring advertisers to boycott the platform is the New Venture Fund, a ‘dark money’ organization that in 2020 received the largest one-year commitment the Foundation has made in over five years. The group funds the Center for Media Justice, the Media Democracy Fund, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and Accountable Tech, all of which signed the open letter backing the advertiser boycott, and has received some 102 separate cash grants from Gates’ foundation since 2008, amounting to $457 million in all, according to the Foundation’s own financial disclosures. Other signatories, like the Sixteen Thirty Fund, are subsidiaries of the New Venture Fund.
The Tides Foundation, another dark money group heavily backed by Gates Foundation cash, funds another five signatories: Free Press, Indivisible, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Media Matters, and Black Lives Matter Global Network, while the Gates-backed Community Partners funds signatory Empowering Pacific Islanders Community and Gates-backed NEO Philanthropy is linked to signatory Reproaction.
Gates and Musk have publicly feuded recently, with the Microsoft founder revealing he still held a $500 million short position against Musk’s electric car company Tesla even as Gates called on Musk to get involved in his climate philanthropy. The SpaceX founder characteristically took to Twitter to air his grievances, likening a photo of Gates to the “pregnant man” emoji and calling the images a “boner killer.”
The software tycoon turned self-styled pandemic expert has also been a major proponent of censorship during the Covid-19 epidemic, insisting that allowing vaccine skeptics to freely exchange their ideas on social media platforms should be prohibited, and Musk’s talk of rolling back some of Twitter’s more stringent censorship policies have rubbed him the wrong way.
The 26 organizations signed an open letter last month demanding advertisers boycott Twitter if Musk made any efforts to tone down the strict speech controls the platform has adopted in the past few years. “Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter will further toxify our information ecosystem and be a direct threat to public safety, especially among those already most vulnerable and marginalized,” it claimed. Advertisers who continued to work with the platform risked “association with a platform amplifying hate, extremism, health misinformation, and conspiracy theorists,” the letter stated.
Musk subsequently tweeted a call to “investigate” who was funding the boycott demand, declaring “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Many of the groups, such as Media Matters, the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, and Indivisible Northern Nevada, are openly associated with the US Democratic Party, while others are linked to liberal causes like abortion rights and LGBT advocacy, and ubiquitous pro-Democrat financial figures like currency speculator George Soros loom large behind the signatory list.
While the Tesla CEO has described himself as a “free speech absolutist” and initially pledged to return Twitter to its halcyon days as the “free speech wing of the free speech party,” he more recently qualified those statements by reassuring government regulators that he would respect the strict speech codes muzzling outspoken social media users in Europe and the US.
Musk’s $44 billion offer to purchase Twitter was accepted by the board of directors earlier this month, but the acquisition has been delayed as the billionaire has called for Twitter to prove that “spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users.”
The platform made that claim last month in a quarterly financial report based on a review of sample accounts, but acknowledged that the calculation had not been independently verified and the real numbers could be higher. Meanwhile, a handful of high-ranking Twitter executives have been pushed out or jumped ship pending the Musk acquisition, and a hiring freeze was imposed ahead of the takeover.
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