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Florida Governor DeSantis Targets Social Media Platforms In Newly Signed Bill

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is targeting social media platforms ina newly signed bill that’s meant to monitor how social media platforms moderate online content. 

The legislation is one of the largest steps made by a Republican governor ever since allegations of online censorship were thrown at tech giants Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Tech industry leaders, however, claim that the legislation is unconstitutional and is setting everyone up for a massive court battle. 

On Monday, DeSantis claimed that a “council of censors in Silicon Valley are to blame for shutting down the debate over Covid-19 lockdowns and the origins of the coronavirus.”

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“I would say those lockdowns have ruined millions of people’s lives all around this country. Wouldn’t it have been good to have a full debate on that in our public square? But that was not what Silicon Valley wanted to do.”

The bill that he signed specifically “prohibits tech platforms from suspending or banning political candidates in the state, with possible fines of $250,000 per day if the de-platformed candidate is seeking statewide office and $25,000 per day if the candidate is running for a non-statewide office,” according to CNN.

The legislation would also give Florida residents the power to sue tech companies for de-platforming. Similar bills have been in the works in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Utah. 

US lawmakers have been proposing significant changed to the federal law in its relation to the legal leeway that tech platforms have when it comes to online censorship. The federal law, Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934, has been under fire by Democrats who argue that the platform’s benefit from a law that was created before the technology even existed. 

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Tech industry leaders have repeatedly denied blocking or removing content solely based on political ideology. Many tech platforms began flagging posts that discussed the Covid-19 pandemic, but were spreading harmful misinformation. 

After multiple Republicans and former president Donald Trump continued to spread falsehoods and misinformation about the 2020 election and the sanctity of our Democracy, many political leaders began getting deplatformed for the harmful information they were spewing. 

Florida’s legislation will “force tech platforms to step back from moderating their sites due to the threat of litigation by any internet user, from foreign extremists to disgruntled internet trolls,” said the Computer and Communications Industry Association, a tech trade group.

“Florida taxpayers will also end up paying their share in the cost of enforcing new regulations, and for the inevitable legal challenges that will come along with the legislature’s effort to adopt a law with glaring constitutional challenges,” CCIA president Matt Schruers, wrote in an op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel.

“The First Amendment to the United States Constitution — backstopped by Section 230 — makes it abundantly clear that states have no power to compel private companies to host speech, especially from politicians,” said Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, a co-author of Section 230, in a statement regarding the signing on the Florida bill.

Facebook Phone App

Facebook’s Ban On Donald Trump Will Continue To Hold 

Facebook’s oversight board ruled this Wednesday that its suspension of former President Donald Trump was justified following his role in the January 6th insurrection attack on the Capitol building. 

The panel claimed that this means the company doesn’t need to reinstate Trump’s access to Facebook and Instagram, however, they also mentioned that the company was wrong to impose an indefinite ban, and the platform has six months to either restore Trump’s account, make his suspension permanent, or suspend him for a specific period of time. 

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Facebook joined a multitude of other social media platforms that banned Trump in January after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol Building. Trump used his accounts to “incite violent insurrection” as ruled by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a handful of other platforms. 

“In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities. The Board declines Facebook’s request and insists that Facebook apply and justify a defined penalty.”

Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg claimed that “Facebook will now determine an action that is clear and proportionate following the ruling. Until then, Trump’s accounts will remain suspended.”

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The board’s ruling could also set a potential precedent for how social media platforms treat posts from political leaders. The decision to ban Trump has led to a major debate over the power these tech companies have, but also the power that our political leaders have when it comes to the things they say and the influence they have; especially when it comes to violent attacks on our government. 

Many have argued that Facebook’s ban on Trump has been long overdue, as his posts have often started conversations that led to multiple violations of the platform’s hate speech policies, however, because of his political power, those violations were rarely regulated. 

Many researchers also emphasized the fact that Trump’s constant efforts to undermine the 2020 election and constant baseless claims against our democracy and Biden’s win created a social media environment fueled by violent political rage. 

The former president, however, has previously teased that regardless of what the platforms decide, he won;t be returning to them, and will potentially start his own social media platform to communicate with his supporters; essentially a personal blog. 

Social Media Apps on iPhone

CEO’s Of Google, Facebook, And Twitter To Testify In Front Of Congress On Misinformation

This marks the first time the chief executives of Facebook, Google, and Twitter will be appearing before lawmakers since the Capitol riots and Covid-19 vaccine distributions.

Capitol Rioters Using Trump As An Excuse In Court 

While Donald Trump himself was recently acquitted by the Senate for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, after being the first president to be impeached by the House twice, his supporters aren’t finding themselves so lucky. In fact, attorneys for at least seven of the rioters have referenced Trump in efforts to explain their clients actions. 

Matthew Ryan Miller was photographed discharging a fire extinguisher on the steps of the Capitol during the riot. At his hearing this past Tuesday, his attorney claimed that “his client was there at the behest of then-President Trump. Mr. Miller concedes he was on the Capitol grounds to protest along with thousands of other protesters and was merely following the directions of then-President Trump, the country’s chief law enforcement officer, and other speakers to march to the Capitol.”

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Defense attorney for accused Proud Boys member Ethan Nordean wrote in a filing that Trump “egged on” his client. Dominic Pezzola, another accused Proud Boy, claimed that he was “duped and just responding to the entreaties of the then commander in chief.” 

Randy Zelin is a criminal defence attorney who claims that these attorney’s strategies are similar to an “advice of counsel” defense. “The tactic argues that a defendant couldn’t have had criminal intent if they were acting on advice from their attorney. Although Mr. Trump isn’t an attorney, there is a notion that if someone who makes the laws tells you what to do, someone could argue they had no intention to break the law.”

Zelin continued to explain that “The president of the United States telling you that it’s OK to do something or telling you to do something — that destroys your intention, your intent to commit a crime, because the president is telling you it’s OK. Basically, the argument is ‘I had no knowledge that I was breaking the law because I was told by the president of the United States to go ahead and do it.'”

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Harry Litman is a former US attorney who, on the other hand, claimed blaming Trump in court would be extremely difficult for these accused rioters. “The ‘Trump made me do it’ defense is a real long-shot, legally, but the move could still be smart because it may create sympathy with jurors, and may even require Mr. Trump to be subpoenaed — a major logistical obstacle that could slow down a case and force prosecutors to drop to lesser charges,” Litman explained. 

At least one defendant has so far attempted to distance himself from the former president during his trial to argue that he can safely be released from jail. Christopher Ray Grider’s attorney released a memo that claimed his client “no longer cared about politics or who the President is.” 

Documents charging Kenneth Grayson show a social media post in which Grayson wrote “”I’m there for the greatest celebration of all time after Pence leads the Senate flip!! OR IM THERE IF TRUMP TELLS US TO STORM THE F***N CAPITAL IMA DO THAT THEN!”

Derrick Evans, a former lawmaker in West Virginia, has an official complaint filed against him that cites a tweet from Trump with the caption “This is why we are going to DC #StopTheSteal.” 

While Trump himself has avoided conviction for a second time by the US Senate after being impeached twice by the House, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed he was voted to be acquitted based on a constitutional limit of impeachment, not because Trump wasn’t to blame for the riot.

The White House Podium

Biden Administration To Begin Admitting Asylum-Seekers Forced To Wait In Mexico By Trump 

The Biden administration has announced that they will be allowing migrants into the US who have been forced to remain in Mexico while their asylum cases are processed due to a Trump-era policy. This is a part of the administration’s greater efforts to overhaul the immigration system. 

The Department of Homeland Security is projected to begin the first phase of this new program next Friday, when they will start gradually letting in migrants who have active cases under the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. Biden is hoping that this is the first step in undoing former president Donald Trump’s hateful immigration legacy.

Biden is also looking to end the Migrant Protection Protocols program, which has also forced asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while they wait for US court proceedings. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently delivered a statement regarding this revision in immigration policy in America. 

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“This latest action is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values.” 

“The administration’s latest step does not mean the border would be open to all migrants, however, because changes will take time. Individuals who are not eligible under this initial phase should wait for further instructions and not travel to the border. Due to the current pandemic, restrictions at the border remain in place and will be enforced,” Mayorkas warned.

There are currently around 25,000 migrants with active cases under MPP, and under the new program those who have been waiting in the program the longest and/or those in the most vulnerable populations will be processed to come to the US first. The Biden Administration is planning on working with the Mexican government, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations in Mexico as well to help better identify eligible migrants who want to come to the US and begin transporting them into the country to process their cases. 

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The Mexican government and Biden Administration have warned migrants with active cases not to go to any US port of entry until they receive proper guidance. According to the administration those in the first phase will be processed in three ports of entry, and officials believe that once they have these ports fully up and operational they’ll be able to process up to 300 people per day. 

Migrants who are processed through this new program will be tested for Covid-19 before entering into the US and once they’re here they will be enrolled in what the administration is calling an “alternative to detention program” that will help track them and their specific cases so that they can be routed to the appropriate court. Being routed to the right court is essential for migrant cases because it determines where they will settle in the country. 

President Joe Biden has vowed throughout his campaign that he would be ending the program that is keeping so many asylum seekers in dangerous living conditions. Due to Trump-era policies there are currently tens of thousands of asylum seekers being forced to stay in Mexico, often in poor living conditions. Last week Biden signed an executive order that gave Mayorkas the task of reviewing the program for potential termination.

Major Conservative Attorney Claims Trump Impeachment Trial Is Constitutional

Conservative attorney Chuck Cooper, most recently known for being the lawyer for former national security adviser John Bolton, has gone public with his argument that the Senate impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump is solidly grounded in the Constitution and should proceed as planned. 

“The strongest argument against the Senate’s authority to try a former officer relies on Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution,” Cooper wrote in The Wall Street Journal this week. This section in the Constitution basically states that any individual holding political power who breaks the law will be removed and held accountable. 

The president, vice president and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

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“The trial’s opponents argue that because this provision requires removal, and because only incumbent officers can be removed, it follows that only incumbent officers can be impeached and tried. But the provision cuts against their interpretation. It simply establishes what is known in criminal law as a ‘mandatory minimum’ punishment: If an incumbent officeholder is convicted by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, he is removed from office as a matter of law,” Cooper explained. 

After Trump was historically impeached for the second time by the House, Senator Rand Paul introduced a measure to dismiss the Senate trial, claiming the proceedings to be unconstitutional since Trump has already left office. Five Senate Republicans joined Democrats in voting against Paul’s measure, which never passed. 

“Given that the Constitution permits the Senate to impose the penalty of permanent disqualification only on former officeholders, it defies logic to suggest that the Senate is prohibited from trying and convicting former officeholders. The senators who supported Mr. Paul’s motion should reconsider their view and judge the former president’s misconduct on the merits.” 

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Trump was impeached for the second time on one article of inciting insurrection against the government after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol building on January 6th. The mob began to storm the federal building after Trump held a rally telling his supporters to march on Congress and contest the election results. This also came after two months of Trump making baseless claims of a fraudulent election, and vilifying the sanctity of the democracy that shapes America. 

“Like the first, it is too narrowly drawn (first Ukraine, now the Capitol desecration) and was rushed through the House on largely partisan lines. Neither scenario is the right way to do impeachments, 50 percent of which in U.S. history have occurred in the past twelve months,” said John Bolton after Cooper made his remarks. 

Several individuals were injured at the riot, and five died, including one Capitol police officer. Trump’s Senate impeachment trial is projected to begin this week.

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Late-Night Hosts Discuss House Impeachment Proceedings And Trump’s Final Week In Office

This week late-night commentators and television hosts have spent their evenings discussing Donald Trump’s final week in office.

Twitter Account

Twitter Chief Says Banning Trump Was The Right Choice But Sets A ‘Dangerous Precedent’

Dorsey is speaking out for the first time since Twitter and a multitude of other social media platforms permanently suspended the president’s account following the violent riot that occurred at the Capitol last week.

The Capitol Building

US Olympic Champion Swimmer Klete Keller Identified At Capitol Riot

Klete Keller, the American Olympic swimmer who one two gold medals as a relay teammate of Michael Phelps, was identified as one of the Trump supporters who was inside the Capitol last week during the riot that occurred during the Electoral College vote proceedings. 

Popular swimming news website SwimSwam posted a report this week that alleged at least a dozen professional swimmers identified Keller due to the fact that he was wearing his US Olympic team jacket. The swimmers identified him after being sent a multitude of screenshots and videos from the riot.

Official USA Swimming did not respond when they were asked to confirm if the images from inside the Capitol were in fact Keller, but the images seemed relatively clear. Keller himself was recently reached out too by the press in order to get a confirmation or denial from the Olympic athlete but he has still yet to respond.

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Keller currently works at a Colorado and Ohio-based real estate agency that was recently also contacted for a comment, however, the woman who answered the phone claimed that they “are not commenting on anything right now,” before hanging up. 

One of the videos circulating online, that was taken by a conservative news reporter, shows the man who has been identified as Keller in a crowd of individuals that police officers were attempting to push towards any of the Capitol exits. 

Keller has previously made headlines for more Olympic related reasons; such as when he held off Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe on the anchor leg of the 4×200 meter freestyle relay at the 2004 Athens Games, securing him and the US with a gold medal. He’s a five-time Olympic medalist in general and at the height of his career was one of the swimmers to watch at the Games. 

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SwimmingWorld is another professional swimmer news site that confirmed with sources that Keller was seen inside the US Capitol during the riot last week. The sources also claim that the videos where Keller is seen don’t show him acting violently in any way, however, the fact that he was present among a crowd of domestic terrorists who stormed one of the most historic government buildings in the US is incredibly disheartening for Olympic fans who believe that these athletes are meant to be upholding the sanctity of the US and its democracy, not actively trying to destroy it. 

According to the New York Times Keller has deleted all of his social media accounts following the riot last week and the exposure of his involvement. In recent years Keller’s social media has apparently been saturated with pro-Trump rhetoric as well. 

As most Americans have already seen last week Trump exhorted thousands of his supporters who were at the Capitol, not wearing masks or socially distancing, which prompted them to erupt in a riot of violence, vandalism, and domestic terror. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died as a result of the rampage, and the FBI and Department of Justice is currently investigating and making dozens of arrests in relation to last weeks dark day.

Parler Sues Amazon For Removing App From Cloud Services Following Capitol Riot

Amazon Web Services removed the Parler app from its cloud services this past Monday after the company claimed that the network wasn’t able to monitor the content on its platform, especially content that promoted or incited violence.