Tom Hanks expressed his gratitude for those helping him after he and his wife, Rita Wilson, were diagnosed with coronavirus in Australia.The acclaimed actor shared a brief update Sunday on Instagram, along with a photo filled with staples of Australia, including a stuffed kangaroo, a plush koala bear and Vegemite spread on his toast.“Thanks to the Helpers,” Hanks captioned the photo. “Let’s take care of ourselves and each other. Hanx.”The toy kangaroo in the picture is holding an Australian flag.Hanks and Wilson, both 63, revealed their diagnoses last Wednesday, with the “Forrest Gump” star wr...
On Thursday, CNN reported that Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue is vowing, if elected in Georgia, to create a force of "election police" to investigate voters for wrongdoing.
"Perdue's plan would create 'an Election Law Enforcement Division in the State of Georgia' that would 'be charged with enforcing election laws, investigating election crimes and fraud, and arresting those who commit these offenses,' according to a release from his campaign," reported Dan Merica. "Perdue's plan also called for 'election results to be independently audited before certification.'"
This comes shortly after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) called for a similar proposal, broadly panned as an effort to intimidate voters. It is one of a number of policies pushed by Republicans around the country to limit voting access, including efforts to roll back use of ballot drop boxes and restricting mail voting in general.
A Democratic-led effort to set minimum standards of voting access across the country failed this week after Republicans filibustered the legislation in the Senate.
Perdue, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, served in the Senate until he was defeated in the 2021 runoff by Democratic filmmaker and congressional staffer Jon Ossoff. He, like Trump, has endorsed conspiracy theories about the election being stolen and blamed incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp for not doing enough to secure the "integrity" of the election.
Kemp has sharply pushed back on Perdue's effort to oust him, accusing the former senator of illegally financing the effort by coordinating with an "independent" political committee.
After Jan. 6, members of the MAGA community have fled traditional social media sites for right-wing alternatives. However, as the Washington Post reported Thursday, sites like Telegram may have seen a big surge after Jan. 6 but it's barely grown since.
Social media users at the big sites might be happy about the shift of the far-right away from trolling those who critique or mock former President Donald Trump. However, the far-right is now quietly scheming behind closed doors without much observation from their opposition.
The Post analysis also showed that the influx to the new platforms may have shown an early surge but it either stopped at the right-wing world or the right-wing world is running off any other potential user base.
The report cited Darren Linvill, a researcher at Clemson University’s Media Forensics Hub, who explained that because the new sites are focusing on "right-wing rabble-rousers" they've developed a brand that they're the gathering spot for the QAnon fringe, anti-vaxxers and others in the conservative world.
"So much of social media, he added, isn’t political at all: The biggest platforms are loaded with jokes, pop culture, cute photos and other distractions that make up most people’s daily media appetites," said the Post.
Starting a social media site means building “multiple perspectives so you can have lots of different conversations happening to bring in lots of different kinds of people,” Linvill said. “Right-wing platforms are one-trick ponies. They’re only going to, by their nature, appeal to the type of person they are branded to appeal to, and there’s only so many people in that world.”
Meanwhile, the conservative personalities that are using Facebook and Twitter to promote themselves are seeing their audiences dwindle. The community's tendency toward conspiracy theories then prompts allegations that they're being censored.
"The data helps strengthen the case for supporters of 'deplatforming,' who argue that banning the accounts of people known for distributing lies can have a powerful impact on their ability to win mainstream attention or political influence," said the Post.
Meanwhile, sites like Gab, Gettr, Rumble, and Trump's new site aren't likely to grow beyond their existing communities of pro-Trump users. After the Trump ban, they grew 80 percent.
The Post analysis reviewed the audience data for 47 well-known right-wing influencers who went to the new sites last year and found that beyond the first influx, they've barely grown and in some cases dropped.
"The influencers previously had seen steady growth on Twitter and other big platforms that distributed their messages to a broad audience. But after their jump to the niche sites, the analysis indicates, they largely failed to continue attracting new followers who weren’t already engaged fans," the analysis said.
Their largest gains came with outrage from people like Trump or when Twitter booted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) last month when she wouldn't stop tweeting COVID conspiracies, which is against the rules of Twitter.
Telegram announced it has more than 500 million active users worldwide every month, half of which joined in the past two years. But they existed long before Jan. 6 and the platform wasn't built for the purpose of giving the right-wing a place to play.
That said, those right-wing personalities like Lin Wood, Sidney Powell, OAN, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Mike Lindell all saw a huge influx of users when they joined Telegram. Since then, not as much.
The report said that right-Twitter copies like Gab and Gettr and the YouTube twin Rumble have focused on conservative audiences, thus they've struggled to keep growth going for their major users.
"On Gab, the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who joined Gab in 2016 and was banned from mainstream sites in 2018, went from gaining roughly 25,000 followers a month in the first quarter of 2021 to adding about 1,000 followers a month for the rest of the year," said the Post.
The analysis also showed that on Rumble, OAN ballooned to 750,000 subscribers after Trump was banned from social media. Since then, however, they've only made it to 900,000.
Driving the far right into their silos might be a relief to the rest of the non-right wing world, but the Post explained that it can make things worse by not exposing them to any other thoughts or ideas. It can also carry people from casual Trump support to becoming fully radicalized.
"A team of researchers last year who analyzed data from r/The_Donald, a pro-Trump forum banned by Reddit that launched its own stand-alone site, found that the spinoff had far fewer members but that the tone of discussions had become more hateful." said the report.
On Thursday, writing for The Bulwark, conservative analyst and former Ted Cruz staffer Amanda Carpenter outlined all of components of former President Donald Trump's effort to stage a coup.
"From the summer of 2020 through January 6, 2021, Trump’s buffoonish plans evolved — ultimately taking shape as a multipronged plot to rob Joe Biden of the presidency, one that descended into bloody violence at the United States Capitol," wrote Carpenter. "It happened fast, but not all at once."
It began, she noted, with his conspiracy theories about the election being stolen, which started even before any ballots were cast: "He and his team started questioning the legality of mail-in voting, especially as the practice was being more widely adopted because of COVID. That month, Attorney General Bill Barr told the New York Times that foreign governments might conspire to mail in fake ballots."
The second part, wrote Carpenter, were the more than 60 failed lawsuits to overturn the election, most prominently the lawsuit out of Texas by state AG and "Lawyers for Trump" director Ken Paxton trying to have millions of legal votes thrown out. That occurred simultaneously with the third plan of fake federal investigations: "In an unsettling departure from Department of Justice precedent, Attorney General Bill Barr on November 9, 2020 gave federal prosecutors approval to investigate the president’s unfounded claims."
The fourth part was the "Stop the Steal" messaging, which quickly inflamed Trump's supporters: "Immediately after the election, protests demanding that election workers 'Stop the Count' materialized in Michigan as Trump supporters sought to discount mail-in ballots that took longer to count and largely favored Biden," wrote Carpenter. "On November 14, 2020, thousands of Trump supporters rallied in Washington. The events descended into street violence that evening, leaving two officers injured."
The fifth part was the push for Biden-backing states with GOP legislatures to adopt fake slates of electors backing Trump — complete with dozens of these fake electors signing on to fake election certificates. And all of this was supposed to advance as the sixth part unfolded: Trump pressuring state officials to invalidate ballots, as he did with Secretary Brad Raffensperger in Georgia.
"Although Trump wasn’t successful in overturning the election, his schemes captured the hearts and minds of the Republican base, many members of the Republican elite, conservative media, and fringe militia groups alike. Those groups worked in concert toward an end goal of rejecting Electoral College votes on Jan 6th," warned Carpenter in her conclusion. "Don’t think they won’t try again."