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Hundreds of Facebook employees to CEO Zuckerberg: ‘Free speech and paid speech are not the same thing’

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The national advocacy group Free Press expressed support Monday for the hundreds of Facebook employees who recently have signed on to an open letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticizing the social media giant’s policy of exempting political advertising from its “misinformation” standards.

“Facebook’s own employees are rising up against the company’s dangerous decision to help politicians lie to U.S. voters,” Free Press vice president of strategy and senior counsel Jessica J. González said in a statement. “They know what’s increasingly obvious to others across the country: Letting politicians lie on Facebook isn’t about free speech at all; it’s about politics and profits, not principles.”

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González’s comments came after The New York Times reported on and published the full text of the employee letter Monday. According to the Times, the letter is aimed at Zuckerberg and “his top lieutenants,” has been available on the internal software program Facebook Workplace for the past two weeks, and has been signed by more than 250 employees.

Despite mounting criticism both within and beyond the company, particulary from White House hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Zuckerberg has dug in his heels over the recent revision to the company’s political ad policy—first reported by journalist Judd Legum in his newsletter Popular Information—which allows politicians to pay Facebook to spread lies on the platform under the guise of “free expression.”

“This is our company,” reads the employees’ open letter to executives. “We want to raise our concerns before it’s too late. Free speech and paid speech are not the same thing.”

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“Misinformation affects us all,” the letter continues. “Our current policies on fact checking people in political office, or those running for office, are a threat to what FB stands for. We strongly object to this policy as it stands. It doesn’t protect voices, but instead allows politicians to weaponize our platform by targeting people who believe that content posted by political figures is trustworthy.”

The letter goes on to detail six “proposals for improvement”:

  1. Hold political ads to the same standard as other ads;
  2. Stronger visual design treatment for political ads;
  3. Restrict targeting for political ads;
  4. Broader observance of the election silence periods;
  5. Spend caps for individual politicians, regardless of source; and
  6. Clearer policies for political ads.

González, in her statement Monday, said that “Free Press stands in solidarity with the employees and their thoughtful list of demands.”

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“The restriction on user targeting is especially needed,” she said. “We’ve seen political operatives and others use Facebook’s advanced data tools to exclude certain classes of people from receiving beneficial information, or conversely target them with misinformation designed to keep them from voting in a certain way or turning out at all. Facebook must do more to prevent politicians and others from using its tools to discriminate.”

Facebook, for its part, maintained its position on the political ad policy in a statement to the Times.

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“Facebook’s culture is built on openness, so we appreciate our employees voicing their thoughts on this important topic,” said Facebook spokesperson Bertie Thomson. “We remain committed to not censoring political speech, and will continue exploring additional steps we can take to bring increased transparency to political ads.”

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Singer and songwriter pens ballad about ‘bunker boy Donald Trump’

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Singer/songwriter Courtney Jaye, whose album "Love and Forgiveness" was named as one of the Top 50 Albums of 2013 by American Songwriter, has penned an epic ballot dedicated to President Donald Trump.

It was reported Sunday that Trump was rushed to the White House bunker on Friday evening as a few hundred protesters surrounded the building. As the weekend progressed, more and more protesters have come to stand in opposition to police violence and a White House they feel isn't doing enough to stop it.

Trump has tried to claim that he was really just "inspecting" the bunker, but it went down like a lead balloon.

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Three right-wing ‘boogaloo’ militants arrested on terrorism charges in Las Vegas: report

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On Wednesday, federal prosecutors announced that three far-right militants with ties to the "boogaloo" movement have been arrested on terrorism-related charges in Las Vegas, according to The Seattle Times.

"Federal prosecutors say the three white men with U.S. military experience are accused of conspiring to carry out a plan that began in April in conjunction with protests to reopen businesses closed because of the coronavirus and later sought to capitalize on protests over the death of a Minneapolis man in police custody," reported Michelle Price and Scott Sonner.

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‘Showing off with these complete sentences’: Internet rejoices as ‘Real President’ Obama speaks – ‘I miss him’

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Former President Barack Obama delivered forward-looking, encouraging remarks in response to the police killing of George Floyd and the ongoing nationwide protests, and the Internet rejoiced. President Obama's comments, part of a town hall organized by his My Brother's Keeper Alliance, were focused for his younger audience, and were short and seemingly off-the-cuff, yet inspired a nation thirsting for caring, intelligence, and leadership.

Take a look.

I Love President Barack Obama.

That’s the tweet.#ObamaTownHall pic.twitter.com/0yevRYTqSe

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