Ugh. Donald Trump’s New Social Media Site Is Just As You Would Have Expected

Truth Social

Careless and incoherent.

I keep expecting Donald Trump to surprise me (in a good way) but my anticipation is regularly dashed. The most recent example is Trump’s new “TRUTH Social” platform, his response to the censorship of the Big Tech platforms that have censored him and others based on thinly-veiled partisan motives.

An ethical platform to counter their abuse of open discourse and support of biased journalism is greatly needed, and Trump, one would think, has the resources and connections to create a good one.

One would think.

But, as usual, the former President can’t get out of his own way, and also as usual, has failed to hire “the best people” he once boasted about. For example, The Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) appears to have violated a license agreement by taking the code of the decentralized social network Mastodon and neglecting to abide by its terms. Software Freedom Conservancy, a non-profit that enforces free and open-source software licenses, said even Trump must comply with the Affero General Public License (or AGPLv3). A condition of the APGLv3 is that every user can receive the complete corresponding source for the website based on that code. Truth Social violated that provision by referring to its services as “proprietary.”

It’s probably just a mistake, but this platform can’t afford mistakes, because it has no good will, no wiggle room, no ability to be given the benefit of the doubt by the hoard of critics waiting to pounce. Trump’s platform is like Jackie Robinson: it has to be perfect, because the knives are already out. No, it’s not fair, but that’s reality, and Trump, of all people, must know it. It is stunningly incompetent to make unforced errors….except that’s what Trump does.

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Facial Recognition Software Isn’t Unethical, And Neither Is Clearview

New technology that is called “unethical” because of how it might be used unethically in the future, or by some malign agent, illustrates an abuse of ethics or, more likely, a basic misunderstanding of what ethics is. Technology, with rare exceptions, is neither ethical not unethical. Trying to abort a newly gestated idea in its metaphorical womb because of worst case scenarios is a trend that would have murdered many important discoveries and inventions.

The latest example of this tendency is facial recognition technology. In a report by Kashmir Hill, we learn that Clearview AI, an ambitious company in the field, scraped social media, employment sites, YouTube, Venmo—all public—to create a database with three billion images of people, along with links to the webpages from which the photos had come. This dwarfed the databases of other facial recognition products, creating a boon for law enforcement. The report begins with the story of how a child sexual abuser was caught because he had inadvertently photo-bombed an innocent shot that had been posted on Instagram.

This episode resulted in wider publicity for Clearview, which had attempted to soft-pedal its database and methods because it was afraid of the typical “unethical” uproar.

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Comment Of The Day: “The Facebook Whistleblower Thinks That The U.S. Needs More Censorship”

Little introduction is needed for this typically well-reasoned and clearly expressed Comment of the Day on the post, “The Facebook “Whistleblower” Thinks That The U.S. Needs More Censorship” by Extradimensional Cephalopod, except “Here you go…”

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“So… it seems the Progressives have decided that Facebook needs to do something, and they’re basing everything on that. They’re not looking at all their options.

“The problem as they have described it is, “kids on social media are exposed to information which harms their mental well-being,” but they are only looking at options that involve putting rules and responsibilities on the social media companies.

“What’s wrong with this picture? Well, it ignores the responsibilities of the parent, the child, and the people who put harmful content on the internet in the first place. It ignores the question of how we can fill social media with edifying content instead (because that content is out there–there’s people on Instagram trying to help with body image problems), and the question of how the parent and child can work together to find that content (or just build a life outside of social media) while rejecting harmful content.

“The fundamental liability involved here is stagnation: known motivational limits. People build habits and addictions to things on the internet, because the internet is a source of instant gratification. This phenomenon is a manifestation of decadence: underregulated stagnation.

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The Facebook “Whistleblower” Thinks That The U.S. Needs More Censorship

I have to admit, Frances Haugen has played this beautifully. Like many so-called whistleblowers (not all), she picked an ideal moment to betray her previous employer, in this case Facebook, leak proprietary documents, turn herself into an instant media star, guarantee books deals, speaking tours and TV stardom, and be praised to the skies by gullible, grandstanding and cynical politicians.

“I’m here today because I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” the former Facebook product manager said before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. Perfect. I wonder if her media advisor helped her draft it.

Here is all you need to know about Haugan: According to her own website, Haugen was a member of Facebook’s internal  Civic Integrity team in 2020. That means she was part of the team that made the decision to ban the Hunter Biden laptop story by the New York Post from Facebook in October 2020. Facebook, and its evil twin Twitter, refused to allow circulation of the story, accepting without evidence the defensive Democratic talking point that the laptop was a plant was tied to Russian intelligence. Those claims were disinformation, we now know, and the laptop really did belong to Hunter Biden. Facebook’s partisan embargo on the truth might have determined the election. Is blocking a story that might defeat Joe Biden what the whistleblower considers avoiding division and protecting democracy?

It’s a rebuttable presumption. I don’t trust Haugan, her motives, or her message.

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Stop Making Me Defend Nicki Minaj!

Minaj

It was only two days ago—less, really—that I highlighted performer/celebrity logorrhea victim Nicki Minaj’s cretinous statements about the Wuhan virus vaccine, which, naturally, have been cheered by various conservative trolls like Tucker Carlson as if Minaj ever gives any thought to what she opines before she broadcasts it to her fans. Now I have to defend the rapper whom I had the misfortune to become acquainted with when she was an American Idol judge and made poor Mariah Carey roll her eyes so hard I was afraid they might pop out of her head when Minaj offered one ridiculous thought after another.

You see Twitter, which I quit a few months ago for exactly this reason, banned Minaj for tweeting her dumb story about her cousin’s friend in Trinidad supposedly becoming impotent after being vaccinated after ”his testicles became swollen.” The theory, I gather, is that Nicki was spreading “misinformation.”

Minaj is angry about this, and in the blunt, crude, self-important stream of consciousness manner for which she is famous, expressed her pique. She said in a video directed at her fans and Twitter followers [Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy read…]:

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Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 9/16/2021: On Idiots, The Donner Party, Statistical Reparations And The Evil NFL

Frozen Statue

I had to get out of bed to write this; I’ve been exhausted all day. I better not be getting old. That will really tick me off…

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I’m working on a post called “Cannibal Ethics,” and this obviously led me to the Donner Party, the group of doomed pioneers who had to eat each other to survive when they were caught in a storm in the Sierra Nevadas in 1846. If I knew that they had come to their fate because of a negligent author, I had forgotten it: a fake expert named Lansford Hastings had written “The Emigrant’s Guide to Oregon and California” recommending a short-cut (which actually increased the trip’s mileage) to the Promised Land (this was before the two areas were ruined by reality-free politics)He had never actually traveled the new trail when he published the book. He did finally do it shortly before the Donner party set out, and helped sealed its fate by leaving paper notes along the way that further misled them. One told the already desperate wagon train they could cross Utah’s Great Salt Lake desert in a faction of the time it actually took. The group ran out of water in the middle of the salt plain about half-way across.

If I compiled a list of U.S. Ethics Villains throughout history—I’ve considered it—Hastings would be on it. After he left the U.S. for Brazil following the Civil War, he wrote a sequel of sorts to the book that killed so many of the Donner Party: “The Emigrant’s Guide to Brazil.” (1867).

1. Tales of The Great Stupid, Headline Division. From the Boston Globe: “How did Boston miss its moment to elect a Black leader?” The reporter, Stephanie Ebert just can’t imagine why he three Black candidates in the mayoral primary were eliminated in favor of Michelle Wu, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and Annissa Essaibi George, whose father was a Tunisian Arab Muslim. But, Ebert complains, there won’t be “any candidate who knows the weight of being Black in a city with deep racial scars.”

Maybe the three black candidates were not seen as skilled, experienced, or qualified as the primary’s winners. Or is Ebert saying that being black should be enough to qualify someone to be mayor?

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Chilling Tales Of The Great Stupid: Bette Midler’s Tweets

Midler tweet 2

Midelr tweet 3

I love these tweets! The pop music and Broadway diva and actress has provided a cultural, political, anthropological and philosophical artifact for the ages. I could write a book about these twin tweets and what they tell us, not just about Midler, but about a society that produces the kind of celebrity who would produce them.

Where to begin? Well, taken together they are not unethical tweets: I might even argue that they are ethical, because they publicly declare to the world, “I am a complete and utter idiot, and not only do I lack the critical thinking skills of a three-toed sloth, I suffer from a near terminal level of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, being both unable to discern just how stupid I am, but also unable to comprehend the consequences of advertising my disability to the public.” Now there is no excuse for anyone considering having an interaction of any kind with Midler that involves trust—letting her baby-sit a child, for example, or even a guppy—and thus to make the mistake of relying on her judgment. She has none, and has been considerate enough to proclaim it. (Not that she hadn’t provided plenty of evidence before.) The tweets make the world safer. How many social media posts do that?

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Lincoln Brown

Taliban abuse

I try to keep my true rants to a minimum, as they are unseemly for one in my role. I also try, not quite so successfully, to tamp down my occasional impulse to write, “I told you so!” It really helps me a lot when a web pundit like Lincoln Brown, a former talk show host and conservative columnist, writes pretty much exactly what I am feeling.

Brown’s essay titled “Dear Leftists, I Hope You Can’t Live With Yourselves” is what I have been dreaming of posting on Facebook for my 200 or so left-biased Facebook friends, some of them real friends I once thought better of as well as a few relatives, who would write mouth-foaming screeds about President Trump’s emails but who have maintained absolute Facebook silence on the Afghanistan disaster other than to post a meek and deflecting, “I think it was time to get out of Afghanistan, right everybody?” Brown’s whole post is the Ethics Quote of the Month, but here are some highlights:

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No Naked Nurse Principle

Naked Nurse

There is a Naked Teacher Principle, however. The Principle states that a secondary school teacher or administrator (or other role model for children) who allows pictures of himself or herself to be widely publicized, as on the web, showing the teacher naked or engaging in sexually provocative poses, cannot complain when he or she is dismissed by the school as a result. The Naked Teacher Principle and all of its variations have been explored exhaustively on Ethics Alarms, The last time it was discussed, nearly a year ago, was in the context of rebutting the argument that there are similar principles regarding police and firefighters.

The current controversy is similar. Allie Rae, shown above, was a competent and dedicated Boston-area ICU nurse (and a 37-year-old mother of three) until she was was forced out of her medical job after employers discovered her non-traditional sideline, an OnlyFans page with a current following of more than 69,000. She says she started being sexually provocative on the web to relieve pandemic lockdown stress as well as her reaction to being on the hospital’s front lines during the Wuhan peak, sometimes working 14-hour shifts. Actually, maybe nursing was the sideline. After all, Allie says she made over $8,000 in her first month on OnlyFans, and she was making only seven a month as a nurse.

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: President Joe Biden

afghanistan-001-3

“That was four days ago, five days ago!”

President Joe Biden, employing Rationalization #52. The Underwood Maneuver, or “That’s in the past,” to brush off an interviewer’s reference to desperate Afghans falling from U.S. transport plans in their desperate efforts to escape a Taliban onslaught.

President Biden, who has been avoiding questioning from the news media over his self-made national and international crisis in Afghanistan, took the weird but telling step of sitting for an interview on the matter with a single journalist—sort of–that has yet to be broadcast. Not surprisingly, the journalist chosen was career Democratic Party operative George Stephanopoulos, who hosts ABC’s talking heads Sunday news show as well as “Good Morning America!” where he is more like a performer. As Ethics Alarms regularly pointed out until I got sick of it, George has no business interviewing political figures like Hillary Clinton, since he has a flaming conflict of interest, nor can he be trusted to cover any political story involving partisan divides. Virtually all TV journalists are Democrats, but Stephanopoulos was a professional Democrat, and has proven repeatedly that he lacks the integrity and courage to overcome that bias.

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