I'm a huge fan of fact-based reporting and Judd Legum's newsletter, Popular Information, is basically the gold standard for that kind of product. I have no idea how a one-man shop breaks news as consistently as he does.
To be clear, Legum's politics are not my politics. But reporting is reporting. And today Legum highlights a huge problem Facebook is having with the gun-rights people heading to Richmond:
On December 13, the leader of American Warrior Revolution, a paramilitary organization allied with the militia movement, posted a video to its Facebook page, which has more than 540,000 followers. Joshua Shoaff, a popular right-wing personality who goes by the pseudonym Ace Baker, went on an extended rant threatening Virginia state representative Donald McEachin.
Shoaff was incensed by a quote, published by the Washington Examiner, in which McEachin suggested that Virgina could mobilize the National Guard to enforce new gun laws if local law enforcement refused to do so. McEachin’s comments came in response to a Republican-backed “sanctuary counties” movement, in which sheriffs have pledged not to enforce new laws such as expanded background checks.
Shoaff declared that McEachin's statement amounted to treason and McEachin, who is African American, should be lynched . . .
I want you to understand that Shoaff was not speaking metaphorically. Here's' what he said, on Facebook:
This message is directly to you [Donald McEachin]. We're coming to your state. I live in Tennessee. My name is Ace Baker. I'm coming to the state of Virginia on January 20th and I hope to see you personally on Lobby Day. Because I would love nothing more than to tell you to your face, you are a coward. You are a tyrant, committing treason. And as a good friend of mine said a few minutes ago, treason is punishable by death. I'm not telling you that I'm going to kill you. I'm telling you that your acts constitute treason and the punishment for treason is hanging in the middle of the street ... You should be pulled out of office by the hair on your head, walked down the streets of the capital, walked up to the steps of a swinging rope that's placed around your neck.
Leave aside for a moment that the guy calling the elected official "a coward" says claims to be named "Ace Baker" instead of using his real name.
Instead, focus on the fact that this threat was up on Facebook for a month and Facebook didn't take it down until Legum's Popular Information contacted them to ask for comment.
There's a lot more in Legum's dispatch about how "gun rights" groups are using Facebook in ways that should make all of us worried.
And the picture it paints of Facebook is of an organization that is desperately trying to uphold its community standards, but simply overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the user base.
Because there is no AI or machine learning that can help a platform kick our users making physical threats, or inciting violence. That requires real, human judgment.
And human judgment may simply be incapable of scaling to 2.5 billion users.
If that's the case, there's a very big question about what we should do as a society going forward.
To take just one possible pathway, it's worth understanding that the invention of the printing press eventually forced the creation of a whole universe of law to help take advantage of the benefits of this new technology and mitigate against some of the obvious problems it created.
Whatever happens in Richmond today, this is the bigger question that's going to loom over us into the future.https://mailchi.mp/thebulwark/you-wont-believe-what-trump-said-about-ken-starr-in-1999?e=3df78f1533