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Social Media: Q Anon Conspiracies ‘Dangerous,’ Mailboxgate Lies ‘OK’

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TRUNEWS with RICK WILES Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have once again been caught inconsistently enforcing their own rules, creating the impression they’re quick to censor information helpful to Republicans in the 2020 election, and just as slow to remove blatant lies that are helpful to Democrats. Facebook announced Wednesday that they were taking action against Facebook pages and groups and Instagram accounts “tied to offline anarchist groups … U.S.-based militia organizations, and QAnon.” This is being done under the company’s Dangerous Individuals and Organizations Policy – which it says it amended to allow for its latest actions. According to a public announcement on the company’s “About Facebook” blog, nearly 800 groups, more than 100 pages, and roughly 1,500 ads tied to the QAnon conspiracy theory were removed from Facebook. Additionally, 300 hashtags have now been blocked on Facebook and Instagram. Restrictions were also imposed upon nearly 2,000 groups and 450 pages on Facebook, as well as more than 10,000 Instagram accounts. The company said they may still be removed, pending completion of a review of their content compared to the now-revised policy. Additional removals may occur due to other existing Facebook policies: “Today’s update focuses on our Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy but we will continue to review content and accounts against all of our content policies in an effort to keep people safe. We will remove content from these movements that violate any of our policies, including those against fake accounts, harassment, hate speech and/or inciting violence. Misinformation that does not put people at risk of imminent violence or physical harm but is rated false by third-party fact-checkers will be reduced in News Feed so fewer people see it. And any non-state actor or group that qualifies as a dangerous individual or organization will be banned from our platform. Our teams will also study trends in attempts to skirt our enforcement so we can adapt. These movements and groups evolve quickly, and our teams will follow them closely and consult with outside experts so we can continue to enforce our policies against them.” Click here to read the full statement from Facebook: President Donald Trump was confronted about the QAnon conspiracy theory during Wednesday’s daily press briefing. Here was the complete exchange: • Reporter – “During the pandemic, the QAnon movement has been – appears to be gaining a lot of followers. Can you talk about what you think about that and what you have to say to people who are following this movement right now?” • President Trump – “Well, I don’t know much about the movement, other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate, but I don’t know much about the movement. I have heard that it is gaining in popularity. And from what I hear, it’s – these are people that, when they watch the streets of Portland, when they watch what happened in New York City in just the last six or seven months – but this was starting even four years ago when I came here. Almost four years; can you believe it? “These are people that don’t like seeing what’s going on in places like Portland and places like Chicago and New York and other cities and states. And I’ve heard these are people that love our country, and they just don’t like seeing it. “So I don’t know, really, anything about it other than they do, supposedly, like me. And they also would like to see problems in these areas – like, especially the areas that we’re talking about – go away. Because there’s no reason the Democrats can’t run a city. And if they can’t, we will send in all of the federal – whether it’s troops or law enforcement, whatever they’d like – we’ll send them in. We’ll straighten out their problem in 24 hours or less. “Okay?” • Reporter – “And, Mr. President, at the crux of the theory is this belief that you are secretly saving the world from this satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals. Does that sound like something you are behind or a believer in?” • President Trump – “Well, I haven’t – I haven’t heard that. But is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? I mean, you know, if I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there. “And we are, actually. We’re saving the world from a radical-left philosophy that will destroy this country. And when this country is gone, the rest of the world would follow. The rest of the world would follow. That’s the importance of this country. “And when you look at some of the things that these people are saying, with ‘Defund the Police’ and no borders, open borders – everybody just pour right into our country; no testing, no nothing. You know, you talk about testing – no testing. Mexico, as you know, has a very high rate of infection. “The wall is now going to be, next week, 300 miles long. Our numbers are extraordinary on the border. Had that – and this is through luck, perhaps, more than talent, although the talent is getting built when one party refuses to allow it. You don’t hear talk about the wall anymore. But I will say this: We need strength in our country, not weakness. Too much weakness.” Children’s Health Defense – a public health advocacy nonprofit founded by Robert Kennedy Jr. that publishes science-based data that questions the safety of vaccinations – has filed a lawsuit against Facebook in California, alleging the social media giant has violated its First Amendment-protected rights. This after the platform invoked its medical safety rules to remove and label its posts that are critical of the CDC, the WHO, and pharmaceutical companies that manufacture vaccines. Kennedy issued the following statement about the lawsuit: “This is an important First Amendment case testing the boundaries of government authority to openly censor unwanted critiques of government policies and pharmaceutical and telecom products on privately owned Internet platforms.” Meanwhile, Twitter is allowing a Democrat-led fully debunked conspiracy theory to flourish on its platform, claiming it doesn’t violate its rules. According to the theory, the U.S. Postal Service, under Trump megadonor Louis DeJoy’s leadership, is locking up and removing mailboxes in a bid to prevent mail-in voting in November. The locked-up mailboxes component led to a tweeted photo from former NBA player and University of Kentucky basketball pre-game show host Rex Chapman, which showed mailboxes that appeared to be locked up to prevent their use. In reality, only the street-side opening was sealed, and the sidewalk side slot remained available for use – as was pointed out by several residents who used the mailboxes on a regular basis. The Daily Caller later responded to the tweet, saying it took just a simple Google search to find the reason for the street-side locks. The Postal Service installed the locks because of a dramatic increase in thefts from mailboxes. Further adding to the humiliating beatdown of the original tweet was this small fact: the article TheDC found was from 2016. The removing mailboxes component was fueled by a tweet from Twitter user Thomas Kennedy, who says he is the Florida Coordinator for United We Dream, a group that actively promotes the Dreamer movement. He’s also a former member of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, which was actively involved in pushing the Obama-Biden ticket in both the 2008 and 2012 elections. Kennedy tweeted a photo of mailboxes stacked up in what appears to be an industrial area. He says the photo was taken in Wisconsin, adding: “This is happening right before our eyes. They are sabotaging USPS to sabotage vote by mail. This is massive voter suppression and part of their plan to steal the election.” But much like the “locked mailboxes” trope, there’s much more to the story than the photo – removed from all context – can tell. First, some background: the photo was taken by a local Democrat activist in Hartford, Wis., at a business named Hartford Finishing Inc. This then prompted Reuters to send a staff photographer out to get additional photos and to report on what they discovered. But, as award-winning independent photojournalist Gary He pointed out, the left-leaning news agency failed to provide proper context for their work, too: “OK so everyone has seen the “viral” photo going around of the piles of mailboxes in Wisconsin being used as evidence that Trump is sabotaging USPS. Problem is, they have been there for years: Hartford Finishing Inc. powder coats and refurbishes the old mailboxes. “When I called up Hartford Finishing, Inc., a woman on the phone confirmed that they have a government contract for the mailbox refurbishing and that they “get them from all over and make them look good again” “This is where I have to give some tough love to my friends at Reuters Pictures. They sent a staff photog to these mailboxes. And then posted them to the wire labeling the site of the mailboxes as just an “industrial lot” when context is our entire job as journalists. “To find this location on Google, you have to search for “Hartford Finishing”. It’s a side road, not like you can spot the mailboxes from a highway. The sign for the business is 20 feet away from the mailboxes. To omit all this from the caption is journalistic malpractice. “Let me be clear: the Reuters Pictures photos are very good. And as stock art for “pile of mailboxes”, it works. But Reuters is one of the best news organizations in the world. And telling the full story and context is everything. This is an intentional omission. “Especially since Reuters is a wire service, other news orgs are going to use these pictures as evidence of Trump tampering with the USPS. When it’s later revealed that it was just a place where mailboxes get refurbished, trust in news organizations is further eroded. “Is having a photo go viral worth it if it’s at the expense of journalistic integrity?? I think at the very least my friends at Reuters Pictures should issue a caption correction for every single one of these frames, and alert editors that have used them out of context. “For the non journalists out there: I get it, you’re anxious about the election. And maybe there ARE shenanigans going on! But this is the wrong way to conduct journalism and why you don’t run stories based on random info on social media without vetting the hell out of it.” Apparent naivete of his own profession notwithstanding, He’s analysis was spot-on, leading USAToday – flagship of the GateHouse Media/Gannett newspaper empire, and one of Reuters’ biggest customers – decided to do its own fact-check. It confirmed what He said about the photos, and about the mailboxes, firmly debunking the “mailboxes are being removed to steal the election” narrative. But, Twitter has refused to remove – or even to flag – the offending tweets of the original photos, which have each collected tens of thousands of retweets. Confronted with the facts, the fact checks, and knowledge the conspiracy theory had been debunked, a spokesperson for the company told National Review the tweets did not violate Twitter’s updated Civic Integrity Policy – the very policy cited when it began flagging tweets from President Donald Trump. The Civic Integrity Policy states that tweets that provide “misleading information relating to vote not being counted” are prohibited. As of this report, however, both tweets are still active, having accumulated nearly 83,000 and more than 25,000 retweets, respectively. (Photo Credit: TruNews)


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