Daily Media Links 5/13

May 13, 2022   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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In the News

Just the News: Free-spoken billionaires Musk, Cuban ask SCOTUS to rein in SEC gag orders

By Greg Piper

Cato joined a brief by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Institute for Free Speech and Institute for Justice, which had represented Cato in court. The four want to publicize stories of those victimized by SEC overreach in their “scholarship, commentary, and congressional testimony,” their brief explains…

“Aside from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the SEC is the only agency in the entire federal bureaucracy that sees the need to suppress the speech of every settling defendant,” the brief says. 

The groups denounced the 2nd Circuit for “effectively insulat[ing] the Commission from all accountability,” even in court. Only SCOTUS can solve the problem because the gag orders also prevent defendants from petitioning Congress, withholding crucial information from lawmakers who oversee “the administrative state,” they said.

Florida Today: Brevard School Board establishes library review process, extends speaking times for some

By Bailey Gallion

Katie Delaney, a Brevard resident involved in an ongoing lawsuit with Moms for Liberty and other parents that argues the School Board has selectively applied the speaking policy to silence conservative parents, said the School Board had still not done enough to address a lack of trust between parents and the district.

“You are not our rulers,” Delaney said. “You are our representatives. You are here to act on the people’s will, not the other way around.”

The Courts

New York Times: Appeals Court Revives Texas Law Targeting Social Media Companies

By David McCabe

A Texas law prohibiting large social media companies from removing political speech became the first of its kind to take effect on Wednesday, posing complicated questions for major web platforms about how to comply with the rules.

Biden Administration

New York Post: Nina Jankowicz says verified Twitter users should ‘edit’ others’ tweets

By Ariel Zilber

The “disinformation expert” tapped by President Biden to head a new US agency division that critics have likened to an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” says that “verified” Twitter users should be able to edit other users’ tweets if they believe they are misleading.

Nina Jankowicz…told participants in a recent Zoom chat that she is “verified” by Twitter before adding that “there are a lot of people who shouldn’t be verified, who aren’t legit” because “they’re not trustworthy.”

She then adds: “Verified people can essentially start to ‘edit’ Twitter [in] the same sort of way that Wikipedia is so they can add context to certain tweets.”

Reason: Don’t Trust Biden’s Dystopian ‘Disinformation Board’

By Steven Greenhut

If its rollout is any indication, then the board will be incompetent, duplicitous and will overstep its authority. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the dubious project on April 27 but—and this fails even the most basic public-relations test—provided no real information about what it will do or how its agents will be held accountable…

The takeaway is not to trust anything the Biden administration says about the matter. The board—and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb—will probably use the fearsome power of federal security agencies to monitor online content and pressure social-media firms to remove content it calls disinformation. It will do so in the name of battling actual cyber threats from Russia and China.

The Media

Common Sense: I Criticized BLM. Then I Was Fired.

By Zac Kriegman

Until recently, I was a director of data science at Thomson Reuters, one of the biggest news organizations in the world. It was my job, among other things, to sift through reams of numbers and figure out what they meant.

About a year ago, I stumbled on a really big story. It was about black Americans being gunned down across the country and the ways in which we report on that violence. We had been talking nonstop about race and police brutality, and I thought: This is a story that could save lives. This is a story that has to be told.

But when I shared the story with my coworkers, my boss chastised me, telling me expressing this opinion could limit my ability to take on leadership roles within the company. Then I was maligned by my colleagues. And then I was fired.

Free Expression

Washington Post: Georgetown’s double bind

By Kenneth L. Marcus

By canceling certain academics, Georgetown has placed itself in a double bind. Either it treats all controversial speech harshly, even when aligned with progressive politics, or it maintains free speech for all. If Georgetown makes an exception for some, it reveals that its harshness toward others has more to do with their politics than with Georgetown’s supposed commitment to inclusivity, civility and respect.

Online Speech Platforms

AP News: Elon Musk: Twitter deal ‘temporarily on hold’

By Kelvin Chan

Elon Musk said Friday that his plan to buy Twitter is “temporarily on hold” as he tries to pinpoint the exact number of spam and fake accounts on the social media platform, another twist amid signs of turmoil over the proposed $44 billion acquisition.

Musk has been vocal about his desire to clean up Twitter’s problem with “spam bots” that mimic real people and appeared to question whether the company was underreporting them.

In a tweet, the Tesla billionaire linked to a Reuters story from May 2 about a quarterly report from Twitter that estimated false or spam accounts made up fewer than 5% of the company’s “monetizable daily active users” in the first quarter.

“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” Musk said, indicating he’s skeptical that the number of inauthentic accounts is that low.

It wasn’t clear whether the issue could scuttle the deal. Musk later tweeted that he’s “still committed to acquisition.”

The States

The City: Corporate Campaign Donors Identify Themselves Thanks to New York Focus Nudge

By Sam Mellins

In the wake of reporting by New York Focus into the state Board of Elections’s failure to enforce a landmark 2019 campaign finance law meant to limit corporate dark money in New York elections, the Board began enforcing the law in March. That yielded rapid results, recent figures show: compliance with the law’s disclosure requirements has increased more than threefold since the Board took action.

The law required limited liability companies, or LLCs, that make political donations to submit a form listing their owners and how much of the company each one owns. That was meant to combat a notorious strategy that corporations and those who control them used for years to pour anonymous cash into elections: using LLCs with generic-sounding names to pass their contributions through.

But the vast majority of donors who gave via LLCs were not aware of or simply ignored this requirement. Only 10% of LLC donors submitted the required form last year, New York Focus reported in February. In the wake of that reporting, the Board took action: for the first time, it notified delinquent LLCs that they were in violation of the law and instructed them to make the required disclosures.

Tiffany Donnelly

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