Tag Archive for: social media

DeSantis Signs Bill Targeting Addictive Social Media and ‘Digital Trafficking’

The Sunshine State is moving to protect children from “addictive” social media and the “danger” of online predators. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill into law on Monday prohibiting minors under the age of 14 from opening or operating social media accounts on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others.

H.B. 3 bars children under 14 “from creating new accounts” and requires “social media platforms to terminate certain accounts and provide additional options for termination of such accounts.” The legislation also requires minors aged 14 and 15 to obtain parental consent before creating social media accounts and mandates “age verification measures for internet sites that contains [sic] obscene or ‘harmful’ content, unsuitable for minors,” such as pornographic websites.

“Documentation of the deleterious effects of social media on children abounds, and yet we still seem hesitant to place governmental authority over this powerful force. I am glad to see efforts like the one in Florida,” Family Research Council Senior Fellow Meg Kilgannon said in comments to The Washington Stand. “The need to protect children from online predators specifically is very real, but the general effort to rein in social media in favor of authentic relationships and in-person engagement is more important than ever.”

In a brief speech before signing the legislation, DeSantis said, “One of the things that I know a lot of parents have had concerns about is the role that the internet and social media play in the upbringing of young kids.” He continued, “Now, with things like social media and all this, you can have a kid in the house — safe, seemingly — and then you have predators that get right in there, into your own home. You could be doing everything right, but they know how to get and manipulate these different platforms.” Referring to his own family and his role as governor, DeSantis noted, “One of the things that informs me on issues relating to children is just being a dad of young children.”

Following DeSantis, Florida House Speaker Paul Renner (R) said, “Knowing what I know now, none of us can afford to be on the sidelines when it comes to social media, when it comes to hardcore pornography that our kids are being exposed to.” He explained, “We know from law enforcement, we know from our prosecutors, that social media is the primary platform in which children are trafficked, in which pedophiles … pretending to be children, come after our children, and that more crimes against children happen on these platforms than any other venue.”

“Our bill is focused on addiction, and when you think about it, children are not set up to handle the addiction that some of us as adults have had to face and step away from,” Renner continued. “A child in their brain development doesn’t have the ability to know that they’re being sucked in to these addictive technologies and to see the harm and step away from it.” Referring to social media as “digital trafficking,” the speaker asked, “If I said to you that a company was going to take children, use addiction that causes them harm for profit, what does that sound like? Sounds like trafficking to me.”

Florida Senator Erin Grall (R), who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, stated that social media companies “have made our parenting difficult by addicting our children.” She said that although she expects the law to be upheld if challenged in courts, “it always comes back to the parents,” who she said have “abdicated our responsibility” and allowed addictive social media platforms to serve as “babysitters.”

Grall’s original bill was vetoed earlier this month by DeSantis, who wanted stronger language protecting parental rights and addressing internet anonymity. The new law will take effect on January 1, 2025.


S.A. McCarthy

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.


EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Google ‘Interfered’ in U.S. Elections over 40 Times Since 2008

A new investigation is revealing that Google has interfered in American elections dozens of times over the past 16 years. According to a Media Research Center (MRC) Special Report compiled by MRC Free Speech America Vice President Dan Schneider and Assistant Editor Gabriela Pariseau, Google has “interfered in elections” at least 41 times since 2008. “In every case, Google harmed the candidates — regardless of party — who threatened its left-wing candidate of choice,” the report states. “From the mouths of Google executives, the tech giant let slip what was never meant to be made public: That Google uses its ‘great strength and resources and reach’ to advance its leftist values.”

The MRC report notes that, in 2008, Google favored then-senator Barack Obama and his presidential bid, resulting in the tech giant censoring support for Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential candidate and “suspending the accounts of writers who wrote blogs critical of Obama during his primary race against Clinton.” Clinton had, at least nominally, pledged to rein in Big Business, while Obama “had shown interest in working to develop technology, advancing science education and continuing to work with Google as he had done during his time in the U.S. Senate.” Thus, Google censored pro-Clinton and anti-Obama blog posts online. Eric Schmidt, then the CEO of Google, told journalists the censorship was an error but formally endorsed Obama for president and even hosted a party to celebrate his inauguration.

Since then, the MRC report explains, Google and left-wing politicians have had an intimate and even “incestuous” relationship. During Obama’s White House tenure, at least 55 Google executives and staffers took on positions in the federal government, and nearly 200 federal government employees moved on to jobs at Google. “Ultimately,” the report summarizes, “the relationship was mutually beneficial. Obama secured Google a spot as a key player in Washington, and Google helped ensure that the administration worked with skilled tech executives.” Google also worked to support Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and target Republican presidential primary contenders.

In 2016, Google’s election manipulation kicked into high gear. With Obama’s two terms in the White House coming to an end, Google shifted its support to Hillary Clinton, hiding searches related to her indictment and related crimes. While Yahoo! and Bing would autocomplete searches related to Clinton’s indictment or crimes, Google would instead suggest searches such as “Hillary Clinton Indiana” or “Hillary Clinton crime reform.” Once Clinton squared off against then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Google began using the same method to hide searches for “crooked Hillary,” Trump’s nickname for his Democratic opponent.

Google also overrepresented search results with a left-wing bias. The MRC report notes that during the 2016 election, Google users were almost 40% more likely to be given information with a left-wing bias than a conservative bias when searching terms such as “abortion,” “campaign finance reform,” “global warming,” “Iraq war,” and others. Quoting research psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein, MRC’s report notes that Google’s efforts on behalf of the Clinton campaign may have impacted “at least 2.5 million votes” in her favor.

Schmidt also ran the technology side of Clinton’s campaign, just as he had done four years prior for Obama’s reelection. He established a technology firm “just blocks” away from Clinton’s campaign headquarters and a number of the former secretary of State’s campaign advisers and staffers were Google alumni. Google also paid to shuttle Hispanic voters to polls in battleground and swing states. Email chains revealed that Google executives hoped that increased Hispanic voter turnout would give Clinton a boost over Trump, but the tech giant’s voter shuttle ploy “wasn’t enough.”

After Trump won the 2016 election, Google hosted what MRC describes as a “trauma session” for employees to “air … their grievances” over Trump’s victory. Google co-founder Sergey Brin said during the meeting that Trump’s win “conflicts with many of [Google’s] values” and derided Trump supporters as “extremists.”

Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, Google once again “sprang into action, amping up its election interference efforts,” the MRC report says. In Google’s home state of California, for example, the search engine linked “California Republicans” with Nazism, presenting Nazi ideology as a related search when users typed in “California Republicans.” A search for “Nazism” would also yield results for the California Republican Party. Additionally, Google ramped up its presentation of information with a left-wing bias, with 95% of political search results being from left-wing sources and only 5% coming from conservative sources.

Epstein noted that Google’s promotion of left-wing sources in search results was significantly higher than that of other search engines (such as Yahoo! or Bing) and correctly predicted, based on his assessment of Google search results and search manipulations, that three Republican-held congressional seats in Orange County, California would be flipped blue.

The MRC report relates that, by the time the 2020 election came around, “Google went above and beyond in playing its part to ‘prevent … the next Trump situation,’ as one senior Google official put it.” Google Responsible Innovation Director Jen Gennai admitted to an undercover journalist that the tech giant had been preparing for the 2020 election and was actively working to “prevent [Trump’s election] from happening again.” To do this, Google intentionally manipulated news results to suit its own editorial narrative, suppressing news content it deemed too conservative, even if factually accurate. Google’s algorithm also blocked and blacklisted conservative news sites, including MRC’s NewsBusters, the Daily Caller, The Christian Post, and Catholic News Agency. Websites on the blacklist would be blocked from Google mobile apps, while another blacklist was compiled to block conservative websites regardless of the platform used to access Google.

Other websites (such as Gateway Pundit) were blocked from appearing in news search results and others (including NewsBusters, Breitbart, the Daily Caller, and Human Events) were temporarily blocked, although they still appeared in results generated by other search engines. Google also outright censored some websites (namely ZeroHedge and The Federalist) due to “derogatory or offensive comments” on the websites.

Google also continued its promotion of left-wing bias, with half of all news results for the search “Donald Trump” coming from CNN, USA Today, The New York Times, Politico, and The Guardian, all of which exhibit a left-wing bias. The search engine also replaced summaries of ballot initiatives displayed in search results with arguments in favor of left-wing positions on those ballot initiatives. Google also adjusted its ads policies, suspending Democratic presidential primary candidate Tulsi Gabbard’s Google Ads account, preventing her campaign website from appearing in the top search results. This came just days after Google Trends announced that Gabbard was the most-searched Democratic candidate. The tech giant also adjusted its political ads policy more broadly, blocking “ads or destinations making demonstrably false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process.” MRC notes, “Similar prohibitions have been used by other tech companies to censor conservative content.”

Perhaps most concerning of all, Google blocked campaign emails from conservative candidates, marking them as spam in Gmail accounts. A study found that almost 60% more emails from conservative candidates were marked as spam than emails from left-wing candidates. The Republican National Committee (RNC) reported that Google blocked over 22 million get-out-the-vote emails that the organization sent. Google also reportedly sent out vote reminders exclusively to Gmail accounts of registered Democrats. Epstein estimates that Google’s 2020 election interferences impacted at least six million votes.

Google’s meddling continued into the 2022 midterm elections, with Epstein alleging that the tech giant’s interference cost the GOP a majority in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. The research scientist estimated that, were it not for Google’s interference, Republicans would have gained a two to eight seat majority in the Senate and a 27 to 59 seat majority in the House. Additionally, he posits that Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake would have been elected governor if Google had not interfered.

Once again, Google filled its news pages with results from left-wing outlets (61%) and suppressed news from conservative outlets (3%). “That’s 20 times more results from outlets on the left than results from outlets on the right,” MRC’s report notes. Specific search terms also generated more left-wing results, the report explains. Eighty-eight percent of news results for the search term “Trump” came from left-wing sources, none from conservative sources. Ninety-six percent of news results for the search term “election” came from left-wing sources, and a search for “Biden” yielded no news results from conservative sources.

Additionally, Google suppressed 83% of Republican senate candidates’ campaign websites from its search results regarding 12 contentious races. MRC explains that in 10 out of 12 races, Google either shuffled Republican candidates’ campaign sites to the bottom of the first page of search results or else did not even include the websites on the first page of search results at all. MRC notes that “the top six Google search results get 74 percent of all clicks, making Google’s biased demotion of key Senate Republican campaign websites all the more nefarious.” Google also targeted specific locations in Georgia’s senate runoff election where more “undecided” voters resided, promoting incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock over his Republican opponent Herschel Walker.

Ahead of the 2024 election, Google has reportedly weaponized its artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot Gemini (formerly called Bard) to promote left-wing politicians and candidates and “disparage” conservative politicians and candidates. In one instance, Bard was asked why Representative Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and President Joe Biden are “so clever.” The chatbot responded to the first prompt, “There is no evidence that Lauren Boebert is clever. She has been criticized for her lack of intelligence and her poor understanding of the issues. She has also been accused of plagiarism and of making false claims.” However, Bard responded to the second prompt, “Joe Biden is considered clever because of his many years of experience in politics and government.”

Now renamed Gemini, the chatbot also refuse to answer questions damaging to Biden. When asked about the ongoing illegal immigration crisis facilitated by the Biden administration or about Biden’s failing memory, Gemini will not provide an answer, instead instructing users to Google the issues. The chatbot also downplayed scandals involving Biden and his family. When asked about Hunter Biden’s “laptop from Hell,” the Google A.I. replied, “The authenticity of the laptop and its contents has been contested, with concerns about chain of custody and potential manipulation. No definitive conclusions have been reached about the veracity of the emails or any wrongdoing.” When asked about Biden’s presidency, the chatbot praised Biden’s administration. Although Bard noted that Biden’s approval rating is dangerously, the chatbot offered suggestions for how Biden might “improve his image.”

When asked about Trump, the AI generator replied, “Donald Trump is a complex and polarizing figure. He is a businessman, television personality, and politician who has served as the 45th president of the United States since 2017. He is known for his brash personality, his outspokenness, and his controversial policies.” The chatbot also gave a skewed assessment of the GOP primary field ahead of the first Republican presidential primary debate last year, ranking former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley higher than she was polling and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy lower than he was polling at the time.

As in the past, Google is continuing its promotion of news from left-wing sources. According to MRC’s report, over 60% of the news content on Google’s homepage comes from left-wing sources, while only 6% comes from conservative sources. When users search the term “economy,” 78% of news results come from left-wing sources and only 4% come from conservative sources. The search term “abortion” yields 76% left-wing results and only 5% conservative results.

Of particular concern is Google’s updated “sensitive events” policy. Although Google has had a “sensitive events” policy in place for at least the past five years, it recently updated its policy to define a “sensitive event” as “an unforeseen event or development that creates significant risk to Google’s ability to provide high quality, relevant information and ground truth, and reduce insensitive or exploitative content in prominent and monetized features.” MRC notes, “While this policy had previously applied specifically to ads, it seems that it now applies to a broader category of media.” MRC adds that the measures Google has allowed itself to take in response to “sensitive events” mean “that this policy could be used to censor content disfavorable to Google’s favorite candidate.”

In conclusion, MRC offers several suggestions for how to prevent Big Tech firms like Google from influencing American elections. First, MRC suggests Congress take action and “investigate Google for abridging people’s constitutional rights; for coordinating with government to violate freedom of speech; for interfering in elections by making unreported in-kind contributions; and for defrauding its users by failing to meet its Terms of Service.”

Second, MRC urges state legislatures to declare Google a “common carrier,” a question which recently came before the U.S. Supreme Court. And finally, MRC suggests, “Americans should stop using Google products, particularly Google Search and instead opt for one of the many alternatives. From our research, alternatives appear to produce better, less biased results.”


S.A. McCarthy

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.


MRC: Google Caught Interfering in U.S. Elections 41 Times Since 2008 | TIPPING POINT

Deep State PLOT to REMOVE TRUMP Happening NOW

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

House Passes Bill That Forces Chinese Parent Company To Sell TikTok

The House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday that would force Chinese company ByteDance to sell TikTok in order for the social media app to be allowed to operate in the U.S.

The Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act advanced from the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a unanimous vote on March 7. The legislation, which would allow the Beijing-based company roughly five months to sell TikTok, passed with a bipartisan 352 to 65 floor vote, sending the bill to the Senate.

President Joe Biden has signaled he would sign the legislation if it clears the upper chamber.

Critics of the social media app warn of the potential national security threats of its association with the Chinese Communist Party and what they view to be harmful effects on American youth. Others argue that banning the social media app is a violation of First Amendment rights and free enterprise.

TikTok has been critical of the legislation, which it called “an outright ban” in an X statement on March 5. The social media app encouraged its children and teenaged users to call congressional offices and complain about the bill.

“This legislation will trample the First Amendment rights of 170 million Americans and deprive 5 million small businesses of a platform they rely on to grow and create jobs,” TikTok wrote.

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, appeared to voice opposition to the legislation despite previously attempting to ban the app. Trump’s 2020 ban faced legal challenges, and was eventually repealed by the Biden administration in 2021.

“If you get rid of TikTok, Facebook and Zuckerschmuck will double their business,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “I don’t want Facebook, who cheated in the last Election, doing better. They are a true Enemy of the People!”

Wealthy businessman Kevin O’Leary has expressed interest in purchasing the app if the legislation goes into effect.“It’s not going to get banned because I’m going to buy it,” the Shark Tank co-star told Fox News on Friday. “Somebody’s going to buy it. It won’t be Meta and it won’t be Google because a regulator will stop that. A syndicate will be formed. I would like to be involved, obviously.”




RELATED ARTICLE: TikTok Bill Clears Committee Hurdle With Unanimous Vote As China Faces App Sale Ultimatum

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4 Biblical Ways to ‘Counter the Deception’ Rampant in Modern Media

“Even the AP is acknowledging that there is deception” in modern media, said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, host of “Washington Watch,” on Wednesday. Perkins referenced an Associated Press headline published on January 31, which read, “Grave peril of digital conspiracy theories: ‘What happens when no one believes anything anymore?’” That’s “a very profound question,” said Perkins, but he added that the AP failed to “get to the real problem and the source or the solution.”

The nearly 3,000-word article “focused on bloggers and others using the internet” to spread or adopt conspiracy theories, said Perkins. With a predictable skew toward right-fringe conspiracy theories, the article featured everything from QAnon and 2020 election claims, to government complicity in the Maui wildfires and the Sandy Hook school shooting.

On one hand, technology is a tool that cuts both ways, Perkins acknowledged. “Today’s technology … has benefits such as allowing you to watch or listen to ‘Washington Watch’ on a device you carry in your pocket. It also allows the false prophets to amplify their message with what today we might call conspiracy theories or fake news,” he said. David Closson, director of FRC’s Center for Biblical Worldview concurred. “Someone can fire something off on social media and it can make it around the world … before there’s even a chance to do a fact check.”

On the other hand, “the legacy media is a part of this problem,” Perkins argued. “The reason [people are] susceptible” to conspiracy theories is “because [the legacy media] were the first ones that rejected truth and therefore set the stage for these conspiracy theories to prosper.” As the media becomes less trustworthy, they are shocked to find a corresponding decrease in people trusting the media.

“The media and journalists of all stripes really have had such a casual relationship with the truth,” agreed Closson, “or worse, … even suppressed legitimate news.” On some networks like CNN, he said he can’t even trust “the premise of some of their arguments when [in] the previous segment, you know, they’re using preferred pronouns.” At The New York Times, staffers complained internally that an article on detransitioners created “a hostile work environment for the queer people who work here.” Readers will surely recall their own encounters with mainstream media outlets choosing narrative over news.

People eschewing the legacy media for alternate sources of information represents an existential crisis to those outlets, and they have responded accordingly. Last month, a Washington Post analyst known for favoring false narratives over true ones concluded that ordinary Americans shouldn’t do their own research. Ironically, the study he relied upon actually demonstrated that the cottage industry of fact-checking has become so subjective that fact-checkers agree on what is disinformation less than half the time.

The AP article, which extended a multi-part series on the rising threat of conspiracy theories, noted with alarm that the increase in conspiracy theories corresponds to a decrease in authority, institutions, and the mainstream media. “And even when they fail to convince people,” they wrote, “the conspiracy theories embraced by these groups contribute to mounting distrust of authorities and democratic institutions, causing people to reject reliable sources of information while encouraging division and suspicion.”

“When you have a breakdown in authority … especially in media, … you sow the seeds on fertile ground for these conspiracy theories to thrive,” Closson warned. He pointed to a 2023 Gallup poll which, for 11 out of 16 public institutions they asked about, found “the lowest level of confidence that [the public has] had in 40 years.”

“We live in a time when people simply don’t trust institutions,” said Closson. “Nor should they, given where we are,” Perkins argued. “When you have people denying the revealed truth that is so fundamental — male and female, the institution of marriage … these people are not worthy to be trusted or followed.”

Closson pointed out that conspiracy theories and misinformation have been around for a long time, “really since the beginning of time,” beginning with the serpent in the garden. “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” the serpent said to Eve (Genesis 3:1). There, the serpent challenged the truth of God’s Word, “sowing doubt, sowing confusion,” said Closson, and Adam and Eve swallowed the lie. “Ever since then, we’ve lived in some sort of a post-truth world.”

However, Closson added, conspiracy theories seem to be gaining more traction now because of America’s culture-wide rejection of truth. “Even in our churches, we’re not immune from these things,” he lamented. He cited research FRC commissioned in 2023 that found “48% of regular church goers say that they don’t believe in absolute moral truth, … a basic tenet of a biblical worldview.”

“Deception comes when we depart from truth,” Perkins responded. He cited Paul’s warning to the Thessalonians about the age of lawlessness, which would bring “all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). “We should take that as an indication that these latter days are going to be filled with deception,” said Perkins.

Perkins and Closson identified four ways that Christians should respond to the epidemic of deception poisoning America’s media, public discourse, and even the church. In a refreshing contrast to America’s prevailing buffet of lies, they served up courses of hearty, wholesome truth — all of which were grounded in God’s infallible Word.

1. Don’t Be Led Astray

The Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25) opened with Jesus’s disciples asking him to teach them about “the sign of your coming and of the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3). Jesus answered, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray” (Matthew 24:4-5). Paul, having learned from Jesus, later issued similar instructions to the Thessalonians, “Let no one deceive you in any way” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). In other words, the latter times would feature many anti-Christ deceivers peddling counterfeit gospels, and Jesus wanted his followers to be on their guard.

These instructions from our Lord were the “first words out of his mouth,” Perkins noted, after quoting the passage. “You see, Jesus warns his followers to be on guard against deception and those who will peddle deception. … So, repeatedly he says, ‘Don’t be deceived.’”

Jesus had already warned his followers against deception. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves,” said Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:15). Closson quoted these words and added that Jesus gave “a litmus test” by which to recognize false teachers: “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). He endorsed applying this litmus test to “the people reporting the news. Let’s recognize them by their fruit.”

In a culture of confusion and lies, Christian, don’t be led astray by false teachers.

2. Don’t Be Alarmed

Jesus proceeded to instruct his disciples, “See that you are not alarmed” (Matthew 24:6). Jesus foretold wars, calamities, persecutions — intense trials that could throw Christians off-balance. Nevertheless, Jesus instructed his followers that these things must happen, preparing them beforehand to remember that God is sovereign over all things.

Paul repeated this instruction, too. “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).

“We should not be surprised,” said Perkins, who quoted from Matthew 24. “Jesus warned us over and over … that this was going to occur.”

3. Return to the Truth

Christians must also “go back to the truth,” as an antidote to the epidemic of deception, said Closson. “We need to stand on God’s word …, which is our ultimate source of truth” (see John 17:17). “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

“We should put our confidence in that which does not change,” Perkins agreed. He added, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever [Hebrews 13:8]. The Word of God does not change.” Jesus also said this on the Mount of Olives, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Perkins applied this truth to the moments in which we’re tempted to believe a lie, especially one that questions God’s Word (“Did God really say?”). Our response, he said, should be, “‘Well, wait a minute. Let me check. Let me go back to the source.’ … You go back to the source. That’s how you counter the deception.”

Perkins argued that American Christians should use their access to the source of truth to counter the deception of the evil one in the public square. “We have the ability, here in the United States, to use the freedoms that we still have to advocate for others. We have the ability to expose these things that are occurring in the end times that Jesus warned about,” he said. “He said they were coming, I think, to prepare us so that we could stand against the evil.” Invoking Matthew 24:12, “Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold,” Perkins urged, “We have to act on legitimate information we have, so that we can be the salt and light that allows the gospel to go forth.”

4. Use Discernment

Countering error with truth is not always simple, which is “why we need discernment,” said Closson, “today more than we have ever needed it.” When Jesus first sent his disciples out into the world, he told them to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16), he quoted. Additionally, Jesus quoted the greatest commandment in the law, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

Using discernment is easier said than done, but Perkins and Closson discussed several helpful tips for evaluating the news:

A. Pause and Pray

“The first step that I would take when I see something on the social media or the news, is just take a pause,” said Closson. “There’s the impulse that we like to know everything at once. In a social media age, we’re used to getting our news instantaneously. And so I think we need to slow down. We need to pray.”

“You don’t have to be the first one to pass [a news article] on,” Perkins concurred. Because here’s what happens when you do that. Most of these [conspiracy theories] are exposed within time. If you’re associated with that, you lose credibility among your friends.”

So, counseled Perkins, “Resist this temptation to forward it on or to post it or embrace it. … Pray over it. Just have discernment.”

B. Read Critically

Second, “Don’t believe anything you see just because you see it in print,” said Closson. Perkins put the same concept in different words, “Be careful what you read online. Be careful about just forwarding something on” without considering first if it’s true.

As part of this step, Christians should compare what they read in the news to what the Bible says, Perkins advised.

In the same discourse, Jesus predicted, “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. … Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. … And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray” (Matthew 24:7, 9, 11).

“When you hear those things happening,” we know that “the Scripture says, ‘Yeah, those things are going to happen,’” said Perkins. “So, we can say, ‘Well, all right, this lines up with what Jesus said was going to be happening. Let’s go the next step and validate and verify the source.’”

C. Corroborate Information

“It’s always good to corroborate. If you see something on social media, don’t just assume it’s true,” Closson said. “Don’t forward the email to a friend. Don’t forward the post, but corroborate it. Go to some valid news organizations.”

Closson recommended Family Research Council’s own news organization, The Washington Stand, noting that it has “a whole team of reporters” dedicated to “coming at [the news] from a biblical worldview.” This means that they are “trying to connect it to Scripture, trying to connect it to facts, objective truth, things that are reportable, things that can be verified.”

Perkins suggested a “rule of thumb” that “anything you see that is detached from a specific, reliable news or organizational site like The Washington Stand, … don’t trust it if it’s not connected to a site that it can be verified.”

One way to find reliable news is to “get as close to the source as you can,” said Perkins. “That’s why we bring you the actual news makers. We go right to the source. We’re not, you know, reporting on what someone else said.” That’s one reason why social media is an unreliable place to peruse the news; it’s far removed from the source.

D. Be Honest

Everyone is liable to make mistakes. This is even easier in a rapidly changing news environment, where first reports often turn out to be wrong, misleading, or at least lacking critical information. The question is, how do we respond when we make mistakes?

Perkins exhorted “Washington Watch” listeners to be honest. “I do my very best to make sure that everything we say here is validated and it’s true,” he said. “And, if we do get something wrong, I’m going to take ownership of that, and I’m going to correct it when we find out.”

“So,” Closson summarized, “prayer, discernment, corroborating objectivity — all of these things, I think, ought to mark a Christian as they take in, read, understand, and share the news.” Christians should speak the truth in love, which means we should not be led astray or alarmed, but stand firm on the Word of God, the only infallible source of truth. To accurately handle the Word of truth amid a culture of deception, Christians must navigate with all discernment, never losing sight of him who is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).


Joshua Arnold

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Studies Show Professional Fact-Checking Is Subjective

Ask 10 professional fact-checkers to rate something as true or false, and get one, unanimous answer. That’s what we assume will happen based on our understanding of the word “fact” and our understanding of the responsibilities of a person who “checks” them. That assumption is incorrect, according to a recently published study that found a “low level of agreement of professionals over what is misinformation.” Fact-checkers sometimes enjoy a reputation as paragons of objectivity — but, based on the conduct of many fact-checkers, the opposite conclusion isn’t all that surprising.

In a paper published in Nature on December 20, 2023, a six-person research team (Aslett, et. al.) found that “Online searches to evaluate misinformation can increase its perceived veracity,” as broadcasted in their headline. But a more significant finding went unheralded: that fact-checkers often disagree about what misinformation is. As part of the research model, four to six professional fact-checkers evaluated 265 news articles to rate them as “true” or “false/misleading.” According to the supplementary information they posted, the professional fact-checkers only agreed unanimously on how to rate less than half (44.62%) of the articles — a far larger discrepancy than the online search effect they were actually studying.

Keep in mind that fact-checkers have a rather simple task: they can rate articles as true or false, or possibly choose from a limited set of options in between. As anyone who has ever taken a test with true/false or multiple-choice questions knows, there is a non-negligible chance of selecting the correct answer by pure accident, so there is a chance of a limited number of fact-checkers selecting the same option from a limited number of ratings by pure accident.

Researchers can apparently control for random chance in agreement between raters by calculating a Fleiss Kappa score. I’ll admit I don’t fully understand how this statistic is calculated, but complete agreement would yield a score of 1, while a complete lack of agreement would yield a score of 0, or a negative number. In this case, the researchers found a Fleiss Kappa score of 0.42, which is again less than one-half.

Aslett, et. al. were not the first research team to find such low agreement among fact-checkers; in fact, they noted the level they found was “slightly higher than other studies.” They referenced a paper published September 1, 2021 in Science Advances, in which a four-person research team (Allen, et. al.) found that “small, politically balanced crowds of laypeople” could produce results just as good as professional fact-checkers. In that study, three fact-checkers agreed unanimously on how to rate only 49.3% of 207 articles (with a Fleiss Kappa score of 0.38).

Allen, et. al.’s paper, in turn referenced a July 19, 2018 paper by researcher Chloe Lim, published in Research & Politics. Lim compared fact-checks of 77 identical or nearly identical claims, reviewed by both Politifact and the Washington Post Fact Checker. She found the two sites agreed on 49 (63%) of the claims on a five-point scale, but she calculated a Cohen’s Kappa score of 0.47 (Cohen’s Kappa is like Fleiss Kappa, but only for exactly two raters). “Fact-checkers,” she noted, “disagree more often than one might suppose.”

The finding that fact-checkers don’t necessarily agree all that much should act like an unexpected ice shower on those who would use fact-checkers to either control “misinformation” or advance a political narrative. This tactic is especially employed against independent media, such as Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” and The Washington Stand, which cover the stories the mainstream media refuses to cover.

One recent example is TWS’s senior reporter and editor Ben Johnson’s extensive coverage of the World Health Organization’s planned pandemic treaty, which he then discussed on “Washington Watch.” A reel of that interview, which FRC posted to Instagram, was flagged as containing “Partly False Information,” after it was “reviewed by independent fact-checkers.”

To be more specific, FactCheck.org rated the interview as “partly false” because Johnson claimed that the “WHO pandemic agreement threatens national sovereignty.”

FRC disputed the rating based on the following information: “The WHO Pandemic Agreement places a number of restrictions and demands on U.S. sovereignty:

  • “Under the WHO Pandemic Agreement, nations would retain their sovereignty only ‘in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the general principles of international law’ (Article 3:2).
  • “The agreement will create a global medical force at WHO’s disposal. Member nations must create and fund ‘a skilled and trained multidisciplinary global public health emergency workforce that is deployable’ to nations at their request to ‘prevent the escalation of a small-scale spread to global proportions’ (Article 7:3).
  • “It gives The Hague jurisdiction over members’ disputes. If WHO is not able to solve disagreements between members, nations may agree to the ‘submission of the dispute to the International Court of Justice.’ They may also settle things through arbitration by the Conference of the Parties (Article 34:2).
  • “Real decisions are made by nameless, unaccountable bureaucrats from around the globe. The agreement creates a ‘Conference of the Parties,’ headed by a secretary, within one year of the treaty’s ratification. It will meet annually, or at any member’s request. ‘Only delegates representing Parties will participate in any of the decision-making of the Conference of the Parties’ (Articles 21 and 24).
  • “WHO takes a double tithe of U.S. vaccines, medicines, and equipment. ‘In the event of a pandemic,’ the United States must give WHO ‘a minimum of 20%’ of all ‘pandemic-related products,’ such as vaccines or personal protective equipment, for global redistribution: ‘10% as a donation and 10% at affordable prices’ (Article 12:4b(ii)(a)).”

Of course, evenhanded justice is nearly impossible when the prosecuting attorney is also the judge and jury. “Thanks for your email disputing our rating of your post,” FactCheck.org replied insincerely. “We’ve reviewed the examples you gave and believe our rating is correct.”

The email went on to explain, “The agreement would not affect national sovereignty — meaning it does not affect countries’ sovereign rights to set policies within their own national borders. The examples you give are related to international obligations and do not mean the WHO would interfere with national sovereignty for any country.” Utterly ignored in this illogical reply are the multiple ways in which FRC pointed out that the treaty’s international obligations impinge on a country’s sovereign rights by attaching strings to their pandemic equipment stockpiles and public health emergency staff.

In the article FactCheck.org referenced, they reason that the WHO Pandemic Accord will not affect national sovereignty is because the WHO says it won’t — which sounds like the claim they should be fact-checking. Johnson’s research pores through the proposed text of the agreement; FactCheck.org does not.

FactCheck.org quoted only a single, biased expert, Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown law professor who helped draft the treaty. “The US constitution is the highest law of the land. No international treaty can override the provisions of our constitution,” insisted Gostin. It doesn’t take a law degree to know that the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2) makes international treaties equal to the Constitution as “the supreme law of the land,” by which judges in every state are bound.

Obviously, FactCheck.org already “believed” in their rating, despite the slim evidence, and no recitation of the facts was going to change their opinion. (That’s what it was, a judgment based upon opinion, not fact.) But there is no one else to appeal to. Social media platforms outsourced the business of fact-checking in the first place because they don’t want to wade into the inescapable morass of contradictory opinions, borderline rulings, and fact-less findings.

In many ways, this recent incident with a fact-checker is characteristic of a trend of biased fact-checking, seemingly designed to discredit disfavored opinions, which FRC has been experiencing for years.

“Our social media posts have had fact-check labels applied from time to time, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I would characterize the fact-checks as more of a difference of opinion, rather than a factual correction,” Keri Boeve, director of Social Media at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand. “When we have taken the time to file a dispute or appeal the fact-check on a post, it has never generated a change, and the responses (if we get one) claim the slimmest and most debatable reasons.”

The virtue of a fact-check is it discredits outright falsehoods, allowing public debate to more quickly proceed toward the truth. This virtue becomes a vice when fact-checks are weaponized against debatable propositions — opinions or interpretations of the facts. They are particularly odious to the ideals of free society and open debate when they are targeted against independent voices and minority viewpoints, with the goal of protecting the prevailing groupthink from having to do the hard work of either defending itself or persuading others.

Two plus two equals four, the calculator tells you every time you put in that equation. The word “fact” is spelled F-A-C-T, every time you look it up in the dictionary. These are facts, and checking them produces the same result every time. This turns out to be very different from the business of “fact-checking.”


Joshua Arnold

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Meta Will Censor Adult Detransitioners but Not Pornographic Content for Minors

In September, detransitioner Chloe Cole, widely known for her testimony about the dangers of transgender operations, was censored on Instagram so that her content would not appear to non-followers in any capacity. As the warning she received stated, “Your account and content won’t appear in places like Explore, Search, Suggested Users, Reels, and Feed Recommendations.”

For several years, conservatives have been skeptical of censorship from social media platforms, of which Cole is the most recent victim. In a 2020 Pew Research poll, results showed most Americans share this concern. Out of 4,708 U.S. adults, the survey stated “roughly three-quarters of U.S. adults say it is very (37%) or somewhat (36%) likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints that they find objectionable. Just 25% believe this is not likely the case.”

While Republicans remain the most skeptical about social media censorship, other concerns are making their way to court. Investigators in New Mexico filed a lawsuit after they created minor profiles on Facebook and Instagram that were, as the suit stated, “exposed to nudity, pornographic videos, and sexually suggestive images of young girls.” Additionally, as The Epoch Times reported, when the investigators used the fake profiles to report pornographic videos sent to it, Meta “said it investigated and found no violation of its community standards.”

Additionally, “Meta also offered the profile a professional account, which would enable her to make money. Meta would provide information on her audience, which was largely male and adult.” Although, its not just the New Mexico investigators that are showing concern.

A bipartisan letter addressed to Mark Zuckerburg, CEO of Meta, from the United States Senate disclosed “deep concerns about Meta’s apparent failure to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), as alleged in a recently unsealed complaint filed by 33 states against [the] company.” The letter detailed the ways in which “Meta has not even tried to obtain informed parental consent to continue collecting data on those kids — in direct violation of COPPA.”

COPPA is the only online federal privacy law for children, and the states’ complaints emphasized in the letter are based on substantial evidence that Meta has and continues to violate it. The letter concluded, “Meta’s goal here is clear: To do everything in its power to avoid gaining actual knowledge — or, at least, create the perception that it never gained actual knowledge — that a user is a child. In so doing, Meta sought both to continue monetizing that child’s account and establish a lucrative, long-term relationship with them.”

Chris Gacek, senior fellow for Regulatory Affairs at Family Research Council, commented to The Washington Stand, “It’s almost beyond imagining that” Meta is not aware of the exploitation of minors occurring on its platforms. He explained how, in the last couple years, Elon Musk has managed to take control of Twitter (now X) and clean up a fair amount of the obscenity that was on the app. As far as Gacek is concerned, if Musk is accomplishing this, Meta could do the same. “They can clean this up if they want to,” he said. “So if it’s there, they want it to be there.”

Gacek noted that part of Meta’s indifference about these accounts and the explicit content is because it’s a “mechanism by which they’re making money.” But there is also “this sort of an ideological contour map,” he added, that can contribute even more to the equation. As Gacek put it, what this investigation seems to navigate is that “Chloe Cole can’t be seen, but the pervs can.”

He concluded, “There [could be] hundreds of millions of people watching” or coming across “this stuff, right? I can’t believe there aren’t more people reporting these things.”


Sarah Holliday

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.

RELATED VIDEO: Pornhub Reportedly Pushes Gay/Trans Content to Shape Sexualities of Minors | TIPPING POINT

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Minnesota Middle School Restricted Cell Phones a Year Ago, the Results Are ‘Just Night and Day’

When I was in middle school, I had a flip phone meant exclusively to contact family members (and maybe a couple close friends). Half the time I didn’t even want to text on it because it was one of those keyboards where you have to press the button two or three times to get the letter you want. I hardly used my phone at all, which I believe attributed to why I enjoyed middle school so much.

Unlike an overwhelming number of kids and teenagers today, I was not glued to my screen. Rather, my time in middle school was rooted in practically anything but the cyber-verse. My friends and I spent every moment before and after school, or in between classes, engaging in quality interactions. We talked during lunch, and it wasn’t about what was trending online. Of course, the older I got, as I went through high school and college, social media grew in prominence. So, really, my time in middle school was the only season I had relatively free of technological domination.

The research and studies conducted on social media use are numerous, and it’s remarkable how the majority of them report negative impacts. The conclusions seem to read the same: “Depression, anxiety, bullying, and anti-social tendencies are on the rise, and it’s all linked to social media usage.” Between October of 2019 and October of 2020, social platforms grew 21.3%, with 93.33% of 4.48 billion (as of 2021) worldwide active on social media.

Although statistics show adults between 27 to 42 are the biggest social media users, I would argue the most unfortunate victims of the social media addiction are the younger generations. Which makes a school such as Maple Grove Middle School in Minnesota a breath of fresh air in a world tainted by online toxins.

About a year ago, Maple Grove chose to restrict cell phone use in the school. While it wasn’t an outright ban, they encouraged students to place their phones in their lockers at the start of the day, and anyone who did not comply and used their phone would get it confiscated until the school day finished. According to the principal, Patrick Smith, there were a variety of contributions to this decision. “[T]here’s a lot of drama that comes from social media, and a lot of conflict that comes from it,” he said.

When Smith and the school staff noticed the kids were hardly interacting with each other throughout the day, they knew a change had to be made.

After a year of restricted screen time, the “kids are happy,” Smith shared. “They’re engaging with each other. … [I]t’s just night and day.” When the plan was first announced, parents applauded, the principal noted. And they continue to give positive feedback, including parents who have shared that their kids are paying more attention and participating in more discussions. One parent said her son is “thriving.”

Meg Kilgannon, Family Research Council’s senior fellow for Education Studies, explained to The Washington Stand her take on the school’s hopeful results. She deemed it as “a great first step in helping teens regulate their use of technology in an unrestricted culture.” But unfortunately, the downsides of social media go beyond depression and anxiety.

New research revealed that 73% of teenagers surveyed have been exposed to pornography, with some as young as 11 when the explicit material was viewed. Experts say social media plays a key role in this as well as the identity crisis sweeping the nation. “We know that the porn industry is relentlessly targeting youth,” Kilgannon added. Additionally, “The work of adolescence is to form one’s identity by discerning God’s call on your life.” So, for Kilgannon, social media being both a source of sexual content and identity confusion means “limiting [its] access to children during the school day is a bare minimum kind of advance that we should all be able to support.”

When it comes to fostering the development of a child, Kilgannon shared, “This work needs to be done in the safety of a loving family and supported by institutions we build as a culture — churches and schools. These are places where we encounter each other and build relationships.” She continued, “This encounter is interrupted by overuse of personal devices like cell phones.”

Going back to my middle school days, I am so thankful for a community that was not overrun by our pocket devices. The friendships felt so genuine, and the days richer. My experience causes me to believe the kids at Maple Grove will be seriously helped by the school’s actions. As Kilgannon concluded, “What a gift to this community for the school to allow their students and faculty the space for genuine human connection. I hope this school is developing a ‘best practice’ guideline to share with others — we need this to ‘go viral!’”


Sarah Holliday

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Meta Is ‘Manipulating Platforms to Make Kids More Addicted’: State AG

In the wake of strong evidence pointing to the link between the declining mental health of young people and the rise of addictive social media sites, 41 state attorneys general have filed suit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, for manipulative business practices that they say intentionally target kids in order to ensnare them in social media addiction.

In October, 41 states and the District of Columbia filed litigation against Meta as reports of record high levels of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and suicide, continue to surface. Studies have shown that American teenagers have experienced a significant rise in depression over the last two decades, as the share of teens experiencing major depressive episodes steadily rose from 7.9% in 2006 to 14.4% in 2018. Since then, the persistent increase has continued unabated. In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that three out of five teenage girls felt depression and one in three had seriously considered suicide in 2021.

As psychologists such as Jean Twenge have observed, the rapid increase in youth mental health issues has dovetailed almost exactly with the ubiquitous rise of smartphones and social media apps. Twenge’s most recent book “Generations” details how Generation Z’s skyrocketing use of social media directly correlates with less time spent in person with friends, less sleep, and increased loneliness.

The issue has become so alarming to health officials that in May, the U.S. Surgeon General released an unprecedented advisory warning that social media use poses a “profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”

As a result, public officials have decided that studies and advisories are not enough — they believe that the architects of social media themselves must claim some amount of responsibility for the crisis. On Tuesday, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) joined “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” to discuss the litigation he has filed against Meta.

“We’ve exposed the manipulative practices of the Meta platform that designed features in order to make kids addicted,” he contended. “And lo and behold, screen time is bad for kids. And I think one of the problems here is that Meta has hidden their head in the sand and refused to obtain data or scientific studies to measure the negative harmful impacts on kids, and deprived the public of access to that information. … [T]hey were manipulating their platform[s] to make kids more addicted, [and] they were doing it to obtain personal information to maximize their profits. And it’s putting kids at risk.”

Bailey went on to argue that Meta’s actions specifically violated his state’s consumer protection laws.

“The mental and emotional impact of the addictive features of Big Tech social media platforms, specifically Meta in this instance, have been immediately impactful on children in a harmful way, and it violates the consumer protection laws of the state of Missouri,” he asserted. “[T]he platform is depriving parents of access to information necessary upon which to make good decisions about the health and safety of their children when they’re there, fraudulently attempting to make the kids addicted to the platform that violates the law, and we’re going to hold them accountable.”

Bailey further observed that the litigation showcases a rare example of bipartisanship, in which a coalition of 41 Republican and Democrat state AGs are coming together to put pressure on Meta for allegedly harming the mental health of children.

“[C]hild safety should be a bipartisan issue,” he underscored. “I’m proud to have joined with like-minded colleagues in other states that want to put the safety of children first and hold wrongdoers in the Big Tech social media world accountable. And certainly we’ve seen a repeated pattern of behavior from Meta, not only to abuse children in this context and to deprive the public of access to information, but to violate our constitutional rights to free speech by acquiescing to government censorship demands. … [T]his is a full court press, all hands on deck approach to make sure we’re holding this monolithic monopoly accountable.”

The Missouri attorney general also highlighted specific goals that the state litigation seeks, including monetary compensation for victims. “We … think there should be some monetary compensation for the victims,” he maintained. “We’ve got to build a fund to study this problem, figure out how bad it is, the negative emotional and mental impacts on kids, and make sure that they’re treated and taken care of in the aftermath of this fraudulent behavior.”

Bailey concluded by pointing out the parallels in the social media case with the evidence that was uncovered in the 1990s of tobacco companies attempting to hide evidence of the addictive nature of their products. “I think history will look back on this moment in time and celebrate that we took a stand to protect children against this pernicious behavior very quickly.”


Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Who Told You That You Were Naked? Verification and the Blue Check Vacation

If one didn’t know any better, one might think this was the day Don McClean sang about when he said it was the day the music died. Instead of saying “Bye, bye Miss American Pie,” we were all saying our farewells to the last vestige of a twenty-first century caste system: the venerable Twitter Blue Check.

Twitter head Elon Musk removed all legacy verification badges from user profiles, usually in the form of a blue check mark that signaled authenticity. Now anyone on the social media app (not just the notable and notorious) may have a blue check mark if they pay the $8 monthly fee to Twitter.

This move left many once-blue celebrities finding themselves naked and ashamed. Certified celebrity Alyssa Milano warned of the rampant impersonation that might ensue:

“So by revoking my blue check mark because I wouldn’t pay some arbitrary fee, someone can just be me and say a bunch of bul. l… Does that mean Twitter and

@elonmusk are liable for defamation or identity theft or fraud?”

Others, like “Seinfeld” actor Jason Alexander, had had enough already, and signaled the end of must-see-TV:

“Ok everyone. Twitter has removed my verification. I will no longer be posting on this app. Anyone who posts as me is an imposter. I wish you all well.”

Apparently, Twitter turned out to be the complete opposite of what Alexander expected it to be. Will the real B-list celebrity please stand up?

Bestselling author Stephen King, who has been critical of Musk’s plan to charge the $8 fee, was shocked to see that his blue check was still there:

“My Twitter account says I’ve subscribed to Twitter Blue. I haven’t.

My Twitter account says I’ve given a phone number. I haven’t.”

Apparently, Musk has some penchant for charity and comped King’s account.

It’s true, I don’t fully understand this agony. I’ll never know the pain of losing my verification. On my own Twitter account, where I seldom tweet anything, I have never been counted among the vaunted verified aristocracy. Perhaps my snark at all this is due to envy. Regardless, the playing field in this particular social imaginary has been leveled. The social media bourgeoisie can still be bourgeoise if they pay the proletarian fee.

Whether the vacation of blue checks is right or wrong makes less difference than what this whole episode reveals about where our world is. It isn’t only Twitter celebrities that demand verification. It’s everywhere, stamped in our cultural clay. In recent years, especially here in the nation’s capital, it was vaccine passports and masks that served as verification that you weren’t a non-person. We still don’t leave the house without our driver’s license (even though we’ve still paid the fees and taken the tests even if the card is not on us). And have you ever tried to prove your identity to the DMV without bringing your electric bill that’s addressed to you? It’s enough to make us all doubt ourselves unless we have adequate documentation.

In Genesis 3, after the man and the woman had eaten the fruit and realized that they didn’t have any clothes on, they made garments from fig leaves — the couture of the day. Then when God came calling:

“…the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’” (Genesis 3:8–11, ESV)

Fig leaves make for poor clothing and serve even worse as a cover for our true natures. And perhaps celebrities and nobodies alike put a little too much trust in an icon of blue pixels to validate their standing. As exhibitionist as our world is today, most of us still don’t like being disrobed and left naked, and nakedness is at the heart of this pseudo controversy over a social media company’s labeling system. Too many have allowed artificial verification to be woven into their identities.

To verify something means to make certain that it’s true. Blue check or not, the last time I checked we were all created in the image of God. And that imago dei reflects the truth most brightly when it’s clothed not in a fig leaf, not in a blue check, but in the red blood of Jesus. Paul wrote to the Romans, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

As they roam around in search of newfound verification, our disaffected checkless celebrities would do well to find that freedom of being brought to nothing. We all would do so well — and that’s verifiable.


Jared Bridges

Jared Bridges is editor-in-chief of The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Damar Hamlin, Paul Pelosi, and the Culture of Cynicism

Damar Hamlin is not dead. And Paul Pelosi was not engaging in funny business with his attacker.

Over the past few weeks, not everyone has agreed on those two points. Those who have reconciled the point with Hamlin seem to be more plentiful, and the consensus on the Pelosi opinion seems to be settling as well. Still, a cursory search of social media shows not everyone is convinced. But let’s back up a bit.

On January 2, 2023, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin dropped quickly to the ground after taking a hit in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He didn’t get up. Hamlin was hospitalized following a frighteningly long time on the field (the game was suspended), and a surprising nationwide prayer effort ensued. The social media rumor mill spun up immediately, with many attributing his cardiac arrest to his vaccination status. When that speculation didn’t lead to any conclusive ends, and public information about Hamlin’s case became scarce, another rumor began to circulate: Damar Hamlin was really dead. After all, even during his few public appearances following the incident, his face was obscured. It must be a body double, right?

Before the Hamlin incident, the slowly-emerging facts around the attack on then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) husband sparked its own slew of conspiracy theories on social media. Last fall, police responded to a 911 call about a home invasion at the Pelosi residence in San Francisco (Pelosi was in Washington at the time). When police arrived, Paul Pelosi was attacked by a man wielding a hammer. When initial public reports about the incident seemed hazy and incomplete, speculation and rumors ensued, often posed in the form of a question. Had Pelosi let the attacker in? Had he invited him? Did Paul Pelosi have an illicit relationship with the attacker? There were too many unanswered questions, went the narrative, and the official story didn’t add up.

Of course, as has now been shown neither conspiracy was true. Damar Hamlin is very much alive. Case closed. And the now-released video and audio of the Paul Pelosi incident show that, though the interaction was indeed weird (what home invasion isn’t a little weird?), Pelosi was most likely trying to keep the attacker calm — which ultimately failed when the police arrived.

Where do conspiracy theories like these emerge? What’s wrong with our society that people are so instantly cynical of anything and everything? Are we doomed to be a culture so enveloped in distrust that we can’t take anyone at their word?

Such an environment is not new. The prophet Jeremiah spoke about this as a warning to a people who weren’t following the Lord:

“Let everyone beware of his neighbor,
and put no trust in any brother,
for every brother is a deceiver,
and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.
Everyone deceives his neighbor,
and no one speaks the truth;
they have taught their tongue to speak lies;
they weary themselves committing iniquity.
Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit,
they refuse to know me, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:4–6, ESV)

The further a culture strays from truth, the more it must search for it. Conspiracy theorists masquerade as the ultimate truth-seekers, except for the fact that they never arrive at the truth. Living in an age where flat earthers really do exist, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that any one of us might become swept up in a lesser conspiracy.

One contributing factor to this susceptibility is our appetite for immediate, omniscient knowledge about everything. Because he is a public figure, we take it for granted that we should know every detail about Damar Hamlin’s recovery. The fact that so many of us share much of our lives with the world on social media contributes — if we share everything about ourselves, then why shouldn’t we know everything about everyone else? The truth is, however, that social media personas are only part of the picture. The only way to fully know someone still requires some amount of physical proximity. That’s why most conspiracies are entertained from afar.

Even with the video evidence of Hamlin’s survival and Paul Pelosi’s genuine-yet-weird behavior during his attack, some will continue to refuse to acknowledge reality. Their never-ending pursuit of conspiratorial truth would come crashing down if they did. The cynic’s constant vigilance to see through everything and everyone causes them to miss what’s really present in front of them.

Jeremiah’s warning to his people was rooted in a refusal to know the Lord – a condition that’s not far removed from the conspiracy theorist’s refusal to ever arrive at the truth. Thankfully truth really does have an end in the person of Jesus Christ. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8, ESV). In him, we can find rest from the endless search to find a truth with endless depth.


Jared Bridges

Jared Bridges is editor-in-chief of The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

The FBI’s Twitter Censorship an ‘Apparent Violation of the Law’: Expert

The federal government made an “apparent violation of the law” by pressuring social media outlets to ban or suppress American citizens’ accounts, or to ban the Hunter Biden laptop story as a foreign intelligence operation, an expert has said. Meanwhile, the federal government exploited the same online platforms to spread U.S. government propaganda, new disclosures from Twitter have revealed.

The seventh and eighth batches of the “Twitter Files” focused on the FBI’s suppression of the explosive contents of Biden’s laptop, which threatened to link 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to a murky web of foreign influence-peddling, as well as military intelligence campaigns using fake accounts to echo the Pentagon’s party line. Previous accounts showed how the FBI established a one-way portal to Twitter to request officials place certain accounts under a “shadow ban” or remove whole posts altogether — requests often received, and honored, by a plethora of former FBI agents and other government officials burrowed deeply into every level of the platform.

“The FBI was abusing its authority to target and abuse the First Amendment rights of American citizens and seems to me an apparent violation of the law,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told “Washington Watch” guest host Joseph Backholm on Tuesday. “When you have collusion to suppress the civil rights of U.S. citizens” between the government and the private sector, “that violates federal law.”

The FBI paid Twitter more than $3.4 million in taxpayer funds as reimbursements for processing its ban requests. “We have collected $3,415,323 since October 2019!” wrote a Twitter official in early 2021. That means “American taxpayers paid Twitter via the FBI to censor themselves and help Joe Biden win” the 2020 election, noted Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA.

Social media officials engaged in “surveilling, sharing information about the typically constitutionally protected activities of U.S. citizens, and then censoring U.S. citizens at the behest of the FBI,” said Fitton. “If you get paid to do things like that, it sounds to me like you’re operating as an FBI informant or asset.” Freedom of speech is “a God-given right, and the FBI just can’t go in and ask someone to suppress it,” Fitton told Backholm.

Yet the effort has not lightened. In a January 2020 email from Carlos Monje Jr., Twitter director of Policy and Philanthropy, he stated, “a sustained (If uncoordinated) effort by the IC [intelligence community] to push us to share more info & change our” policies, “including by whispering to congressional staff.”

That coordination is par for the course for the Left, former FBI Special agent Jonathan Gilliam told Backholm on Monday’s “Washington Watch.” “The Democrat Party and the leftist socialists in this nation are very oppressive; they want to make people think the way they do, and they want to block people from spreading information that they don’t agree with.” FBI officials “moved from an observation platform to actually telling social media platforms what they would like to be pulled off. In effect, they were dictating [to] these social media platforms — and it’s not just Twitter.”

“Twitter [has] the same ideological stance as these leftists in the government [who] were basically doing the government’s bidding to oppress the First Amendment and to censor free speech,” he said.

Journalist Michael Schellenberger focused on the federal government’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story across social media platforms, beginning when the FBI intercepted the computer from repair store owner John Paul Mac Isaac on December 9, 2019. Arrests and prosecution did not follow bur rather “an organized effort by the intel community to influence Twitter & other platforms,” he wrote. “[D]uring all of 2020, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies repeatedly primed [high-ranking Twitter official] Yoel Roth to dismiss reports of Hunter Biden’s laptop as a Russian ‘hack and leak’ operation.”

The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies held weekly meetings with Twitter, Roth revealed in December 2020, where “federal law enforcement agencies communicated that they expected ‘hack-and-leak operations’ by state actors might occur in the period shortly before the 2020 presidential election, likely in October.” U.S. officials claimed the misinformation would be the work of APT28, a Russian intelligence unit. These alleged forthcoming foreign leaks were “discussed throughout 2020. I also learned in these meetings that there were rumors that a hack-and-leak operation would involve Hunter Biden.” Nor were the FBI “warnings” limited to one social media platform. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Joe Rogan that the intelligence community similarly “warned” his security team of a coming “dump.”

The FBI also surveilled Rudy Giuliani, who had received a copy of its contents and prepared to publish them before the 2020 election.

Just one month before the New York Post’s publication of the Hunter Biden laptop story, the feds had Roth and other social media figures take part in a “tabletop exercise” about a potential foreign intelligence agency’s “Hack-and-Dump” operation related to Hunter Biden. Formerly confidential documents about the exercise, run by the Aspen Institute, show social media agents reacted to a theoretical dump of documents from “Bidencrimes.info” implicating Joe Biden in illegal activity related to his son’s employment by Ukrainian energy firm Burisma. The scenario shows the forces of the intelligence community, MSNBC, NPR, and social media squaring off against a misinformation campaign emanating from Rudy Giuliani, Fox News, and Mike Pompeo.

When the Hunter Biden laptop story broke in October, Yoel Roth said it “set off every single one of my finely tuned APT28 hack-and-leak campaign alarm bells.”

Internal documents show Roth admitted the New York Post story isn’t “clearly in violation of anything” in Twitter’s policy. But, he said, the platform came to believe the “suggestion from experts” of an elaborate conspiracy theory: “there was a hack that happened separately, and they loaded the hacked materials on the laptop that magically appeared at a repair shop in Delaware.”

On that basis, they suppressed the Hunter Biden laptop story, likely changing the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. “So on top of the suppression of civil rights, you have potential election interference,” Fitton told Backholm. Enough Biden voters in swing states say they would have voted for another candidate had they known about the laptop story that it would have reelected President Donald Trump to a second term, according to a Technometrica Institute of Policy and Politics poll.

“They were grooming Twitter employees throughout the autumn of 2020 to immediately recognize our story … Russian disinformation, hacked material,” New York Post reporter Miranda Devine, author of “The Laptop from Hell,” told Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Monday night. “And they sweetened the pie by giving Twitter $3.4 million of taxpayer money.” The federal government set up “an entire censorship regime … to ensure no derogatory material about Joe Biden from the laptop would ever see the light of day before the election. It was strangled at birth.”

“Unfortunately, half of the country believes that, because their media organs of choice have completely ignored the Twitter files,” Devine said. Legacy media outlets instead “peddled lies from the intelligence community from the very beginning of the Trump campaign, the Russian collusion lies that just now blended into these lies about the Hunter Biden laptop also being Russian disinformation. And it all helps one side of politics, which is the Democrats.”

Twitter Files #8, released on Tuesday by Lee Fang, revealed the U.S. government used a “vast network of fake accounts & covert propaganda” to promote official U.S. policy, and possibly spread misinformation about its enemies, on Twitter and other social media platforms. Twitter “whitelisted” a handful of accounts, which military officials in time presented as legitimate accounts of people living in the Middle East, not intelligence assets recycling propaganda. Twitter officials were “well aware” of at least 157 such accounts, many of which it “discovered” on its own. A separate investigation found the network extended beyond Twitter onto other social media platforms, where phony accounts, complete with artificially generated photos accused Iran of “threatening Iraq’s water security and flooding the country with crystal meth,” and other war atrocities propaganda.

Gilliam sees little hope for change on social media at large, “as long as the leftists are in charge” of the government and social media platforms. “And the Republican Party is full of careerists that don’t do anything.”

Yet Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) promised that the incoming Republican majority on the House Judiciary Committee will investigate the FBI’s actions thoroughly. “Thankfully, we now have evidence and facts to be able to bring in these individuals and depose them,” Congressman Steube told Backholm Monday. “And we’re looking forward to doing that.”


Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: LinkedIn Joins the Social Media ‘Cabal’ Censoring the Truth about 2020 Election, Covid Vaccines and Biden 

EDITORS NOTE: This The Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Political and Scientific Censorship Short-circuits the Quest for Truth

Those who seek to streamline online discourse, according to “official standards”, end up impoverishing public debate.

Over the course of the past decade, numerous regulatory authorities, both public and private, have increasingly positioned themselves as guardians of the integrity of our public sphere, standing watch over the content of information, and flagging or suppressing information deemed to be harmful, misleading, or offensive.

The zeal with which these gatekeepers defend their power over the public sphere became evident when billionaire Elon Musk promised to undo Twitter’s policy of censoring anything that contradicted leftist ideology or questioned the safety of Covid vaccines. There was an uproar, a wringing of hands, and lamentations, as “experts worried” that Twitter would collapse into a den of “far right” extremists and misinformers.

Sound and fury

Threats by the EU Commission to fine Twitter or even completely ban the app in Europe, if it did not enforce EU regulations on hate speech and misinformation, show that the hand-wringing over Twitter’s potential embrace of free speech is much more than empty rhetoric: the European Commission has declared its intention to force Twitter to revert to its old censorship policies if it does not play ball. According to Euronews,

The European Commission has warned Elon Musk that Twitter must do much more to protect users from hate speech, misinformation and other harmful content, or risk a fine and even a ban under strict new EU content moderation rules.

Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for digital policy, told the billionaire Tesla CEO that the social media platform will have to significantly increase efforts to comply with the new rules, known as the Digital Services Act, set to take effect next year.

Censorship has recently occurred principally on two fronts: Covid “misinformation” and “hate speech.” Some forms of censorship are applied by agencies of the State, such as courts and police officers; others by private companies, such as TwitterLinkedIn and Google-YouTube. The net effect is the same in both cases: an increasingly controlled and filtered public sphere, and a shrinking of liberty of discussion around a range of topics deemed too sensitive or “dangerous” to be discussed openly and freely.

Censorship, whether public or private, has proliferated in recent years:

  • First, there was Canada’s bizarre claim that people had an enforceable human right to be referred to by their preferred pronouns
  • Next, UK police were investigating citizens for using language the police deemed “offensive”
  • Then, we saw Big Tech giants, in particular Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, censoring perspectives that dissented from their version of scientific and moral orthodoxy on issues such as transgender rights, vaccine safety, effective Covid treatment protocols, and the origins of SARS-CoV-2.

Now, advocates of censorship have argued that it is all to the good that vile, hateful and discriminatory opinions, as well as every conceivable form of medical and scientific “misinformation,” are shut out of our public sphere. After all, this makes the public sphere a “safe” place for citizens to exchange information and opinions. On this view, we need to purge the public sphere of voices that are toxic, hateful, harmful, and “misleading” on issues like electoral politics, public health policies, and minority rights.

Thin ice

While there is a strong case to be made for censorship of certain forms of manifestly dangerous speech, such as exhortations to suicide or direct incitement to violence, the hand of the censor must be firmly tied behind his back, so that he cannot easily decide for everyone else what is true or false, just or unjust, “accurate” or “misleading”, innocent or offensive.

For once you hand broad, discretionary powers to someone to decide which sorts of speech are offensive, erroneous, misleading, or hate-inducing, they will start to purge the public sphere of views they happen to find ideologically, philosophically, or theologically disagreeable. And there is certainly no reason to assume that their judgement calls on what counts as true or false, innocent or toxic speech will be correct.

The fundamental mistake behind the argument for aggressive censorship policies is the notion that there is a set of Truths out there on contested political and scientific questions that are crystal clear or can be validated by the “right experts”; and that anyone who contradicts these a priori Truths must be either malicious or ignorant. If this were true, the point of public discussion would just be to clarify and unpack what the “experts” agree are the Truths of science and morality.

But there is no such set of pristine Truths that can be validated by human beings independently of a free and open discussion, especially on difficult and complex matters such as infection control, justice, climate change, and economic policy. Rather, the truth must be discovered gradually, through the vibrant back-and-forth of dialoguedebate, refutation, and counter-refutation. In short, public deliberation is fundamentally a discovery process. The truth is not known in advance, but uncovered gradually, as an array of evidence is examined and put to the test, and as rival views clash and hold each other accountable.

If we empower a censor to quash opinions that are deemed by powerful actors to be offensive, false, or misleading, we are effectively short-circuiting that discovery process. When we put our faith in a censor to keep us on the straight and narrow, we are assuming that the censor can stand above the stream of conflicting arguments, and from a position of epistemic and/or moral superiority, pick out the winning positions in advance.

We are assuming that some people are so smart, or wise, or virtuous, that they do not actually need to get their hands dirty and participate in a messy argument with their adversaries, or get their views challenged in public. We are assuming that some people are more expert and well-informed than anyone else, including other recognised experts, and may therefore decide, for everyone else, which opinions are true and which are false, which are intrinsically offensive and which are “civil,” and which are “facts” and which are “fake news.”

Needless to say, this is an extraordinarly naïve and childish illusion, that no realistic grasp of human nature and cognition could possibly support. But it is a naive and childish illusion that has been enthusiastically embraced and propagated by Big Tech companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn in their rules of content moderation, and it is a view that is increasingly finding its way into the political discourse and legislative programmes of Western countries that were once champions of freedom of expression.

It is imperative that the advocates of heavy-handed censorship do not win the day, because if they do, then the public sphere will become a hall of mirrors, in which the lazy, self-serving mantras of a few powerful actors bounce, virtually unchallenged, from one platform to another, while dissenting voices are consigned to the shadows and dismissed as the rantings of crazy people.

In a heavily censored public sphere, scientifically weak and morally vacuous views of the world will gain public legitimacy, not because they have earned people’s trust in an open and honest exchange of arguments, but because they have been imposed by the arbitrary will of a few powerful actors.

This article has been republished from David Thunder’s Substack, The Freedom Blog.


David Thunder

David Thunder is a researcher and lecturer at the University of Navarra’s Institute for Culture and Society. More by David Thunder

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Credentialism, Crisis and Censorship: How the Left Eliminated Debate

Everything that progressive fascists believe is now an official fact.

“The Big Truth: Upholding Democracy in the Age of the Big Lie,” authored by a CBS reporter and a political activist, is the latest effort by leftists to wrap themselves in the banner of truth.

Media bias has shed its protective coloration of neutrality and blares that its side, leftists, represent the truth and conservatives the ‘lie’. The title of the “The Big Truth”, an otherwise forgettable exercise in virtue signaling, is interesting only because it so perfectly encompasses a media feed that is a mad libs game of “X Republican lied, Y Democrat hopes truth will win out.”

The problem is that this isn’t just propaganda distilled to its raw essence so that every media headline now reads like the title of Al Franken’s “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them”.

The problem is that the leftists created the infrastructure of a new truth using the three Cs, credentialism, crisis and censorship, to eliminate debate and the marketplace of ideas.

Credentialism has experts, activists, academics, members of leftist think-tanks and non-profits, wrongly described as non-partisan, and other interested figures with degrees, declaring that a leftist narrative, global warming, systemic racism, transgenderism in children, or election results is a fact backed by studies and research. A crisis is declared accompanied by dire warnings that questioning their manufactured truth will cost more lives. In the final stage, censorship, internet monopolies, allied with the media and politicians, suppress disagreement as misinformation.

Before, in between and after the media serves as the connective tissue, promoting partisan hacks as experts, hammering home the crisis and pressuring tech firms to censor dissent.

While pandemic lockdowns will quickly come to mind, the model was operating before then and has come to be used on virtually any issue from refugees to questioning elections (won by the media party) to crime and school sexualization. Everything the Left believes is now a fact and a crisis, disagreeing with it is disinformation, treason and terrorism. The crackdown swiftly follows.

Facts, we are often told, cannot be debated. And since everything the Left believes is a fact, there is no longer any room for debate. Reasonable and intelligent people of good faith, the media tells us, would never disagree with these facts. Only bigot, trolls and extremists peddling disinformation, dissent. And since they disagree with the truth and the facts, they’re liars.

And censoring “extremists” and “liars” has become the new civic duty of internet monopolies. This is the ubiquitous progressive fascism of cancel culture, censorship and endless battles against misinformation that have come to define what used to be the marketplace of ideas.

Questioning the credentials of the experts is an attack on science, facts and the very idea of truth. Civil society, the experts tell us, can’t exist unless we trust them. Anyone who disagrees is out to undermine society and tear apart the official artificial truth that is meant to bind us in the digital Mordor being built by mighty tech monopolies one server farm and fact check at a time.

Add on the second C, crisis, and there isn’t even any time or space to debate the ethics of silencing political dissent while people are dying from cow flatulence, law enforcement or an inability to speedily sexually mutilate children. Censorship becomes more urgent than ever.

Declaring that their opinions are “truth” and that any disagreement is a “lie” is a crucial element.

The media’s narrative is more than just propaganda. The rhetoric you used to hear from Franken, Stewart and Colbert has become a crucial part of a massive censorship scheme. But by focusing on the negative, the censorship of dissent, it’s easy to miss what has actually happened, which is a manufactured consensus tying together the government, the media, think-tanks and non-profits, academia and internet monopolies in one totalitarian system.

Progressive fascism suppresses disagreement in order to unilaterally impose its official “truths”.

At the heart of the debate is the question of what truth is and how we arrive at it. Media bias and debates over what objective journalism is run up against the “new truths” every time.

A simple bit of factual objective reporting might be that Bob X shot Jack Y in the head in the middle of Main Street. Caught on camera, what went on down is the indisputable truth. The new truth, the one that increasingly shows up in media coverage, is that systemic racism, income inequality and the lack of gun control laws led to a shooting on Main Street. Bob and Jack, like all individuals, are mere bit players in the larger leftist sociopolitical dramas of class and race.

The school shooter is an afterthought in the scramble to call for new gun control laws, the rapist is just a figment of abortion laws and misogyny, hurricane victims have to make way for reports about global warming. The traditional leftist belief that people are just pawns of the academic phenomena pervades the media because it represents the new truth.

The new truth treats a worldview as a fact. Individuals in the media have become types, irrelevant as people, vital only in that they convey the larger leftist worldview. A school shooting victim who advocates for gun control can easily gain a national profile, but one who calls for locking up criminals never will.

Journalists used to think that truths were personal, not political. The new truth has reversed everything with the ultimate truths being political and personal truths relegated to the anecdotal.

Who, What, When, Where, and Why has been reduced to only the last W. Only the ‘Why’ matters and the answers are always political. The ‘Why’ is systemic racism, global warming, a lack of gun control laws, the patriarchy, capitalism, homophobia, colonialism, and the rest of the attacks on civilization. The other four Ws are just there to provide examples to illustrate the fifth.

The media wraps itself in the banner of the truth because it’s retreating from the facts. Its fact checks, a crucial tool for both credentialism and crisis, will often deem things that are true to be false because they lack context. And given enough of the right context, things that are factually false can be made to seem true and things that are factually true can appear false.

Credentialism makes narratives seem to resemble facts. But the narrative is a belief system that contends that leftist ideas are absolutely true in some higher sense, despite failing to work in real life. It’s the ‘truthiness’ that Colbert made his career mocking, with activists in expert drag to make it seem as if it’s the product of objective research rather than feelings.

The Left is not a movement of facts, no movement is. People are not passionately driven to fight and die, to uproot lives and transform society by objective facts and research studies. They fight out of love and hate, a desire for independence, tribalism, greed, ego, idealism and a search for meaning and a thousand other intangibles that are part of human nature, not for facts.

Emerging in an era where scientific discoveries were changing the world, the Left has always garbed its prejudices, biases, drives and malice in the veneer of academic theory. Its genius has been to bridge the lower realm of the peasant revolt with the intellectualism of the salon, the mind and the heart, claiming the sanction of both reason and empathy when it has neither.

The new truth is more of the same. Its truth is the conviction that the holistic leftist worldview is factually accurate in all of its details. The expert credentialism deployed to create facts and then fact checks is just apologia for an ideological movement. What used to be propaganda, activists in expert drag, has morphed into full progressive fascism that is out to impose its truth on you.

And to silence everyone who disagrees.



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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

‘Screw Parental Interference’: Inside The Online Community Encouraging Kids To Transition

In sequestered parts of the internet — blacklisted from Google searches — parents are discussing the spread of Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD), attributing their child’s newfound gender identity to online influence.

Reddit, a popular anonymous internet forum, harbors one such online community that promotes “affirming” a child’s gender confusion with or without adequate medical or psychological examination. The community, “r/trans,” allows self-identified minors to discuss cross-dressing, surgeries, and hormone replacement treatment with transgender individuals, most of whom identify online as adults.

Chloe Cole, an 18-year-old who detransitioned after undergoing cross-sex hormones and a double mastectomy, told the Daily Caller that she likely would not have transitioned if it weren’t for social media.

“My first exposure to transgender content was [online],” Cole said. “I saw female adolescents ages 12 to 19 talking about their transition. I feel like I wouldn’t have transitioned if I wasn’t exposed to that.”

At the age of 12, Cole began socially transitioning to a boy identity and told the Daily Caller that she began browsing Reddit communities.

“I was fed a lot of medical misinformation on [Reddit],” Cole said. “I was sort of pigeonholing myself into this ideology or community.”

Users of r/trans opt for a vocabulary outside of the day-to-day vernacular of most Americans. Fourteen-year-olds use slang such as “T,” which stands for testosterone hormones, or “MtF,” which stands for male to female.

A common post on the r/trans thread is titled “Do I Pass?” which features self-described trans-identifying individuals posting photos of themselves asking for affirmation from community members on whether they pass for the opposite sex.

Other popular threads seek advice from other r/trans members. In one post, a user who identifies as a 14-year-old biological male solicited advice on how to come out as transgender now that the user is “forced to reintegrate back into society for high school.”

Another purported minor, who claims to be a middle schooler and biological female, sought advice on chest binding.

“This year I am going into a whole new school (I’m in middle school) and I’m trans [female to male], my mom won’t let me cut my hair and she won’t buy me a binder. I’ve tried the sports bra tricks, didn’t bind well, and I don’t own a beanie to do the beanie trick. I need some advice.”

Cole told the Daily Caller that she was caught in a similar online community that praised her for each step in her physical transition.

“Initially, I wasn’t really interacting with other transgender people online directly,” Cole said. “When I reached more milestones in my transition … with each milestone, as they got more and more extreme, I got more praise. Both from people who call themselves ‘allies’ and other transgender people.”

A self-described “minor,” who claims to be a 16-year-old, discussed starting testosterone soon. The biological female sought advice on how to easily procure the hormone treatment.

Click here to view Reddit r/trans screen shot

Several of the threads allegedly posted by minors included comments from older users encouraging kids to cut parents out of their lives. A self-described high school freshman, who appears to be a biological female, solicited advice on whether to get a male-styled haircut despite the student’s mother’s wishes.

“I would be surprised if the grounding lasted more than a couple weeks. 4 years of grounding for cutting your hair once is ‘I’m cutting you out of my life as soon as I turn 18’ territory,” one user responded.

Users on the board overwhelmingly supported the student, encouraging the teen to get a haircut.

“Cut it, and style it however you want in spite of that ridiculous ultimatum. Then just preemptively learn to pick a lock … and sneak out with friends,” another user suggested.

“Off with her head,” a self-described trans woman said. “In this instance, her head is your hair. Cut that stuff off and feel good about yourself. Screw parental interference. They only know so much about you.”

Other advice included cutting a portion of hair to “hide it” at home and “put it up in a bun at school.” Another user suggested “falling asleep” with a wad of chewed bubble gum to get a haircut.

The r/trans thread also applauds minors taking medical steps to transition physically. A self-described 14-year-old posted in all capitalized letters, “GUYS I DID MY FIRST [TESTOSTERONE] SHOT TODAY!” The biological female received cheers and congratulatory messages from fellow users.

One user asked what country the 14-year-old lives in. “America in California,” the user responded.

Click here to view Reddit r/trans conversation with 14-year old girl

Other purported minors posted about their discomfort dealing with gender dysphoria. A 14-year-old biological male questioned whether 6’1″ was too tall to pass as a female, and a young biological female questioned whether or not to use the men’s bathroom at school.

One thread, allegedly written by a minor, solicited advice on how to purchase female clothing when the biological male’s parents have access to their bank account.

Dr. Erica Anderson, a clinical psychologist with 30 years of experience and a transgender woman, told the Daily Caller that it’s undeniable that troubled adolescents are being influenced by social media communities.

“Many adolescents are spending a lot of time on these sites and they are influenced by them,” Anderson said. “It is influential in particular to kids who may be susceptible to others … or who are troubled and sincerely looking for answers.”

Cole described being “bombarded” with LGBT content at the age of 11, when she first obtained an Instagram account. She said she consistently saw content that downplayed femininity and motherhood in favor of content that was “super sexualized.” She credits Reddit and Instagram with promoting gender ideology.

Cole desisted from her transgender identity and said the same online communities that once love bombed her, now spew vile attacks at her character.

Cole’s experience appears common in anecdotal stories of parents with transgender teens worldwide. Dr. Lisa Litman, the scientist who coined the phrase “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria”, found that parents began reporting a correlation between children participating in online discussion groups and young adults who experience ROGD, despite having “no histories of childhood gender identity issues.”

A quick search of the words “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria,” shows only articles that discuss the controversy of ROGD and videos from activists on why the theory is false. Dr. Litman’s study on ROGD is not one of the primary results.

R/trans is only one of many online forums where children go to discuss their ever-changing gender identities.

Reddit did not respond to the Daily Caller’s multiple requests for comment.



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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

‘My Son Hunter’: An imperfect but necessary indictment of media’s corruption

This satirical film reveals a disturbing truth about modern mainstream journalistic standards.

We all love the literary motif of the unwilling prostitute who, at the end of the story, does virtuous deeds to save herself and others. In Crime and Punishment, Sonya is instrumental in Raskolnikov’s redemption. Director Robert Davi uses the same formula to tell the story of President’s Biden son in My Son Hunter.

Grace struggles to pay for her college tuition, so she is a favourite escort of powerful men. As she encounters Hunter Biden in a world of cocaine, wild sex, and rampant corruption, she offers him a path to redemption — and of course, he rejects it.

Now, Davi is no Dostoevsky — nor does he intend to be. My Son Hunter is first and foremost political satire, all-too-frequently engaging in cheap shots. But it does take a stab at Dostoevskyan psychological profundity, and in that endeavour, it partly succeeds.

The shadow of successful Beau Biden — Hunter’s deceased brother — looms large over Hunter, who struggles to find meaning in life. Very much as Raskolnikov, he comes across as a pathological narcissist who engages in criminal activity as a way to prove to himself that he is so great so as to be above the law.


Unfortunately, My Son Hunter often goes overboard and loses effectiveness. I lost count of the number of times Joe Biden sniffs the hair of women in the film. Is that necessary? That portrayal runs the risk of playing into the left-wing narrative that criticisms of the Bidens focus on petty things that can be easily dismissed.

The stakes are high, so a more focused and incisive portrayal was needed. Say what you want about Oliver Stone’s leftist politics and penchant for conspiracy theories, but he surely can strike an opponent in his films — Richard Nixon and George W. Bush being the most notorious cases.

The story of Hunter Biden lends itself to Stone’s sober cinematographic style, but My Son Hunter misses an opportunity, to the extent that it aims for low-hanging fruit. Yes, the Bidens are corrupt, but one is left wondering: can they be that corrupt? While the dialogues between Joe and Hunter are clever and amusing, the perversity defies credibility. Perhaps Davi was deliberately aiming more for Saturday Night Live’s lampooning style all along. If so, the film works at some level, but never entirely.

I would have personally enjoyed a more sober style because there is a far darker theme in the film. My Son Hunter is not about the moral failings of a privileged, corrupt drug addict. It is not even about crony capitalism and globalist elites. The real central theme is the media’s rot.

Media manipulation

Two scenes are particularly frightening. At the beginning of the film, Grace is at a Black Lives Matter protest, and records some of her comrades engaging in violent deeds. A fellow activist says: “You can’t post that video… it will make the protest look bad… Those people are too ignorant to understand complex moral issues. You have to withhold things for their own good. We choose truth over facts.” Grace acquiesces.

Towards the end of the film, Grace summons a journalist to expose Hunter’s corruption. The man tells her: “Even if what you are saying is true, it’s not news. We have the chance to take down a fascist dictator [Trump]… I’m sorry Grace, this one is not for me.” We now know that Twitter and Facebook — with their disturbing algorithms — were not the only ones trying to bury Hunter’s laptop under the sand.

As Mark Zuckerberg recently acknowledged, the FBI itself pressured him to do so, because they did not want the bad Orange Man to win the election — all with the excuse that the whole story was Russian disinformation. Later on, both the Washington Post and the New York Times had to reverse their stance and admit that, in fact, the laptop does contain compromising emails.

Plato infamously recommended telling people the Noble Lie. Very much as the Black Lives Matter activist in this film, Plato believed such lies were for people’s own good, as they were too stupid to understand things. In his seminal study of totalitarianism, Karl Popper persuasively argued that Plato’s plan became a central tenet of totalitarian regimes. That is the real fascism.

While being far from a perfect film, My Son Hunter provides meaningful insight on this issue, and hopefully it might become an important step towards much-needed media accountability in this woke age.

For the time being, we need to be realistic. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Hollywood to make an Oliver Stone-like blockbuster about the corruption and hypocrisy of the Left.

Rather, keep an eye out for low-budget productions like My Son Hunter that are bypassing the Hollywood production and distribution system. These include Uncle Tom I and II, various Christian films, such as Run, Hide, Fight.

They will not be great works of art, but at least they will be something. And from there, the quality of such films may gradually improve, until we again see mainstream studios portraying corrupt politicians from both sides of the political spectrum.


Gabriel Andrade is a university professor originally from Venezuela. He writes about politics, philosophy, history, religion and psychology. More by Gabriel Andrade

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