Show Notes By Victoria Lynn Hall
A pet peeve of mine is when people consistently criticize social media on social media. Their criticisms may be entirely valid but the very fact that they are using a social media platform to spread their message is ironic to say the least and, in my view, hypocritical. At some point you would think they would opt out or organize others to do the same rather than continue to participate in and support the very systems they are railing against. Of course they don’t because, for all their complaints, they are obviously deriving some sort of benefit for being there.
I feel similarly about the Democratic Party. It seems to me that they are consistently criticizing systems, institutions and situations that they have had a significant role in creating or maintaining. In my observation, they tend to assign blame and responsibility for all of our problems on someone else: Trump, Republicans, Russia and now Facebook and yet they talk very little about actual solutions.
Jesse does an excellent job of explaining how complicit and ineffectual Biden and other Democrats are when it comes to the unchecked political and advertising power of Facebook and other tech companies in this episode. And after doing that and pointing out in general just how large a task it is likely to be to change any of the disturbing political realities our country is dealing with right now, he categorized this episode as “grim”.
I disagreed with him only because I believe in the power of the truth to affect change in our lives. As any recovering addict can attest to, the first step is admitting there is a problem and America has been in denial for longer than most of us realize. The fact that people are protesting or that we are even talking about these things, is indicative of progress to me.
Awareness is a powerful tool for change. As someone who spends a lot of time on social media, I do not dispute the fact that it is proliferated with lies and propaganda or that companies are mining data to target consumers for profit. However, being aware of these practices makes me less vulnerable to them and has shown me how to work around them to my benefit.
I could give you a list of strategies for how to avoid the pitfalls of social media, as I’ve fallen into and had to dig myself out of most of them. However, I think the main key is to focus on what you want to create versus what you want to consume.
Amplifire Project itself is indicative of what I want to use social media to create; a place where people of diverse ages, backgrounds, viewpoints and experiences can share their stories and make connections. All we are selling here is the opportunity to be a part of it and all it will cost is your effort and time. Please check out our “Share Your Story” page if you are interested in contributing.
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Show notes by Jesse Crall
At some point during my talk with Victoria, the Joe Biden campaign put out a video dealing directly with what we were discussing. Biden’s Deputy Campaign Manager, Kate Bedingfield, outlines a series of “asks” to Facebook in order to preserve democracy. These asks would largely require Facebook to make subjective judgments toward political posts on its site that could easily lead to partisan infighting and deplatforming. The Biden campaign’s demands are vague enough to leave plenty of room for a concentrated collection of people at Facebook to warp the site to suit certain interests.
One demand goes as follows: “[Facebook] need to promptly remove false, viral information.” That’s it. But what constitutes “false” information? And at what level does a post become viral? Bedingfield opens the video claiming that “foreign operatives” hacked the 2016 election via Facebook. Not true. At most, a Russian troll farm with no proven connection to the Kremlin created some memes. And the idea that the 2016 election swung to Trump as a result of limited Russian trolling suggests that Team Biden doesn’t think too highly of the American electorate. If I decide Bedingfield’s claim is false, should her video be deplatformed? Flagged? Of course not. But what happens if you or I run for Congress and put out information criticizing the CIA for spreading misinformation about Russia? Powerful forces within the U.S. government wouldn’t approve. Could they contact Facebook and demand our posts be hidden, deleted or flagged in some fashion? I should hope not, especially since Facebook operates as a social media monopoly on which many people in and out of politics rely.
Anti-imperialist news outlet The Grayzone is currently enduring censorship from Wikipedia due to a proliferation of right-wing editors objecting to their coverage of Venezuela. Team Biden’s demands open the door for further censorship toward sources like The Grayzone operating in opposition to whomever holds power at Facebook. I grew up with Democrats vehemently opposing the Iraq War, the Bush Administration, the National Security state expanding its powers during the War on Terror and limits to free speech and expression largely practiced by the right wing. Today? Liberals have embraced George W. Bush, forgotten the Iraq War, valorized Intelligence agencies in their #Resistance to Donald Trump and now demand that free speech be limited by a private monopoly. We’re witnessing the American left and right establishment coalescing around a shared embrace of elite structures that serve corporate supremacy, imperialism and a culture dedicated to narrowing discourse so that it only suits the status quo.
I didn’t think I’d ever witness Democrats praise the man who dropped depleted uranium on children. I also didn’t think a Democratic Congress would bail out corporations and screw over workers for a second time. It’s a sorry state of affairs when I’m most wrong in my optimism. If Democrats plan to continue white-washing war criminals, amplifying conspiracy theories about Russia and allowing a handful of corporations to rule the economy, the least they could do is ensure open platforms on social media for the rest of us to ineffectually complain about it.
If you have a question you would like to “Ask Jesse” or have a topic you would like us to explore in a future episode, you can email us at AskJesse@amplifireproject.com
Watch the full episode below or on YouTube where you can subscribe to all of our video content. We would also like to thank Kim D. for contributing her fabulous song, “Corporation Coup” for use as a theme for our videos, you can find the full recording of this song at: https://soundcloud.com/wondergalaxy13/corporation-coup
A self taught artist and creative entrepreneur, Victoria Lynn Hall lives in the Kansas City area with 4 spoiled cats. She believes in art and the magic of kindness.
A Los Angeles native, Jesse Crall graduated from UCLA’s English Department before working as a copywriter, script reader and project manager for an engineering firm. Now pursuing a master’s degree in writing at NYU, he splits his time between Studio City and Manhattan. https://linktr.ee/jessecrall