Fox News Commentator Calls For A 'Backlash' Against Big Tech… Because Wikileaks Released His Phone Number
from the say-that-again? dept
It’s widely recognized that there’s been a widespread backlash against the big tech companies over the last few years. Politicians on both sides of the aisle in the US have been calling for massive, sometimes crippling, regulations, fines or even antitrust breakups of the companies. Regulators around the globe have been fining the companies billions of dollars.
Apparently all of that is news to Fox News contributor Juan Williams, who has taken to the august pages of The Hill to publish an op-ed calling for a backlash to big tech. Dude, it’s already happening. Still, perhaps Williams has a new argument that is worth considering? I mean, there are legitimate points to be made about competition, privacy and the like. But… nope. Williams is mad that Wikileaks — which, last I checked, is not considered a member of “big tech” — leaked his cell phone number in a cache of John Podesta emails:
Tell the truth — you love Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the rest.
I did, too. Then it got personal for me.
In 2016, Russian hackers, using WikiLeaks, “doxed” me.
They published my private cell phone number in a dump of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s stolen emails. I gave him my number in a private email to set up an interview.
Once the number was out, my phone blew up. Pranksters harassed me. Thuggish partisans threatened me. I had to get a new phone as I was covering the final weeks of the campaign.
So, uh, what does that have to do with “Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the rest”? I have absolutely no clue. And neither does Williams. But apparently, it’s a reason to attack them. Oh, also because some asshole troll wrote negative reviews on his upcoming book on Amazon.
Then, in 2018, a smiling man came up after I hosted a television show in Dallas to tell me how much he enjoyed “trolling” me online with racist language.
I couldn’t believe he was saying this to my face. His smile made it weird.
He then bragged about how he and his pals wrote phony reviews of a book I wrote on President Trump’s history of racism. He wanted to bring down the book’s rating on Amazon, even though it had not yet been released and he had not read it.
And get this – this guy then asked for a selfie.
That’s certainly a good example of an asshole troll doing asshole trollish things. But according to Williams, it’s proof of why we need to attack social media companies?
This is just one horrible way the world has been transformed for the worse by social media.
Then he just blames them all for recent mass shootings.
The recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton reminded the nation of the damage done by Big Tech’s refusal to take responsibility for hate speech, racism and calls to violence.
Wait. What did any of those sites have to do with the mass shootings in either place? This is just a random slur for no reason at all. There is no connection at all. Indeed, there’s a much stronger connection between those shootings and… wait for it, Williams’ own employer:
There is a striking degree of overlap between the words of right-wing media personalities and the language used by the Texas man who confessed to killing 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso this month.
An extensive New York Times review of popular right-wing media platforms found hundreds of examples of language, ideas and ideologies that overlapped with the mass killer’s written statement — a shared vocabulary of intolerance that stokes fears centered on immigrants of color. The programs, on television and radio, reach an audience of millions.
So, uh, Juan Williams, perhaps there should be a “backlash” against your own house, before you start throwing stones at others. But, nope. It’s important for Fox News to keep the narrative focused on the tech companies, lest anyone take a look at its own efforts. And one way to fuel the narrative is to lie about it and then poll the public you fooled. Williams plays along:
Polls now show a sharp increase in Americans who are furious with big technology companies that rake in millions while refusing to take any responsibility for the spread of hateful language, bizarre conspiracy theories, financial scams and trolls — as well as the derailing of honest political discourse.
Funny, but it’s Williams buddies at Fox News who keep arguing that these platforms take too much responsibility on the site and are supposedly “banning conservatives,” and that’s why Senators like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz keep threatening laws to stop these sites from taking down any speech. Meanwhile, you have to be horrifically and totally out of touch to argue that these sites have not been trying to deal with “hateful language, bizarre conspiracy theories, financial scams and trolls.” They’ve been trying. They’ve been failing, but part of that is the impossibility of the task. And part of it is the intellectually dishonest claims by folks like Williams.
Start with the big tech companies’ refusal to stop Russia from interfering in the 2016 election with a deluge of phony online posts designed to tear the country apart by race, religion, sexual preference, and fear of immigrants.
“Refusal to stop” is an interesting way to rewrite history. First off, according to Fox News, all that Russia stuff is a hoax and we should be holding people responsible for “years of lies” about it. But now, Williams is claiming that tech companies should be held liable for not stopping what his colleagues insist is a total hoax? Second, it is absolutely true that social media companies were caught unaware of the extent of Russian operations on social media during the 2016 election. But it’s also true that detailed data analysis showed that it was Fox News and not Russian trolls who were more successful in spreading the kind of bogus propaganda the Russians were pushing.
Again, Mr. Williams, perhaps check your own house first.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a leading candidate for the White House in 2020, is following Hughes’ lead by campaigning on a plan to break up the big tech companies.
And Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has introduced legislation to hold tech companies accountable for the fact that consumers — especially young children — are becoming addicted to tech products and harming their health in the process.
Williams is so clueless he doesn’t even realize that Hawley’s other recently introduced bill would literally ban what Williams is requesting in terms of having companies “take responsibility” for hate speech online.
Back in December, I wrote in this column:
“An honest 2020 election is not possible without Congress getting its hands dirty by confronting Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google, the tech corporations often referred to by the acronym ‘FAANG.’”
The problem has only gotten worse.
Congress — for the future of our democracy, please bring on the tech backlash!
Again, all of the evidence says that Fox News had significantly more impact than any of the big internet companies, and Williams’ sole point of complaint is that Wikileaks — not a big tech company — released an email with his phone number, and some random asshole online trolled him. Maybe, next time, Mr. Williams can take a look at his own employer first.