Does Facebook smoosh conservative posts? YES. But regulation is not the answer


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ZUCKERBERG TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I want to take you back to last week when Mark Zuckerberg, who is the founder and head of Facebook testified before members of the Senate on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he went before the House of Representatives.

There were several issues that were focused upon: the privacy issue, the censorship issue and whether or not there’s a monopoly in Facebook.  

DR. REEDER: Tom, this is obviously a story for multiple reasons. By the way, it seems as if our culture thinks it’s a story because the televised hearings where Mr. Zuckerberg was called to testify have had an astounding viewership.

WHY A HEARING? WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE?

Let’s remember that these hearings are valid. Congress has hearings because, historically, they were for the purpose of identifying issues or movements or situations in which they needed to examine to see if that affects public policy.

But now, with the presence of the media and their being televised, these hearings have taken on a new dynamic and, instead of what used to be pretty much a closed-door event in which they would ask questions to find out from the witness the information they want, now you can note very clearly that each of the Congressmen and women are vying to see who can make the best speech. Then, “Can I ask the question that is the true gotcha question so I will make the evening headline focus?” And, therefore, the benefit of these hearings gets lost.

We also begin to see Mr. Zuckerberg do what many do in these positions and what he has done, historically, whenever Facebook has been caught in a situation that is questionable or even illegal in what they are doing in order to enhance participation and number of users in Facebook. In fact, there’s a memo out there that actually says the No. 1 objective that you have as an employee of Facebook is to multiply viewers. It is not to protect the identity and information of the users, but to multiply users, even if it means that you expose some of their data, that’s an unwanted but may be a necessary casualty.

FACEBOOK HAS HISTORY OF EVASION OF WRONGDOING

Historically, he’s always said, “That was wrong. We’re going to put in new policies,” and does a mea culpa and then everything goes on and nothing really changes that much. This one seems to be a little bit different as he realizes that people may have a concern for stolen identity and people having access to their messages, to their data that they don’t want. You’re getting all kind of advertisements that clearly somebody has access to something you’ve communicated that you had no idea that they would have access to it.

And so now it’s should we regulate this and what should be the policies to regulate it? And the argument is, “Well, Facebook is a monopoly. They don’t really have a competitor.” The argument back to regulation is, “Hey, you don’t have to participate in Facebook. If you don’t want to, then don’t participate in Facebook. This is a matter of free speech, this is a matter of free enterprise and of the capitalistic system. They’re providing a service and you have to make a determination, ‘Am I willing to embrace their policies of operation? Am I willing to lose some of my security of my data that I put on Facebook, knowing that people are going to have access to it? Why should the government regulate what ought to be just the free exercise of business?’”

Well, the pushback is, “Well, they’re a monopoly.” Well, they don’t have to be a monopoly. It’s not like a utility that you can’t multiply infrastructure of utilities in a city and you’ve only got one and, therefore, it needs to be governed because the monopoly could have runaway costs so you don’t have a choice and you have no competition.

TIME FOR COMPETITION TO EMERGE, WITHOUT REGULATIONS

That’s not the case in Facebook. I would argue that you can have competition. To me, it’s very much like the news outlets going progressive/liberal/untrustworthy and then up comes Fox News and their mantra became “Fair and Balanced” — we show both sides. Now, I’m not arguing that they do or they don’t, but they came up and, all of a sudden, all of these so-called news outlets, the Big 3, before long, became the Shrinking 3 because of competition.

Well, I would suggest that the same thing can happen with Facebook, is that you can have competition. What I think the government does is make sure that competition is invited and make sure that those who would want to challenge it have an avenue to challenge it. That’s what I think ought to happen, not the regulation of Facebook and the reason why is because it’s just a matter of time if they regulate that, what else can they regulate in terms of free speech and free enterprise? And I believe that the marketplace is the best corrector of these practices.

Therefore, Tom, I think that’s the perspective that at least needs to be in the mind of those from a Christian world and life view. Now here’s the problem, Tom. Facebook, like most monopolies, when they begin to control something, what is clear is not only have they been careless with the security of their participants, but they have also governed the content of what they allow, and what they favor and what they promote in terms of communication on Facebook.

And they clearly have embraced liberal causes — I think it’s been documented that almost every single one of the leadership positions in Facebook have those who have demonstrated both by their donations and their public record a propensity toward the Progressive agenda, the Democratic Party and liberalism, specifically, and so that’s showing up in terms of how they are controlling the flow of information.

CONSERVATIVES, DON’T GET BEAT AT YOUR OWN GAME

The very group that ought to be protecting liberty of speech and free practice of business — the conservatives — tend to want to limit and govern and use regulations on Facebook because the conservative positions are those that are being isolated and marginalized by Facebook. I would just tell my conservative friends, from a Christian world and life view, you do not want to give up something that you’ve historically held to and that is free enterprise and free speech.

You do not want to impose regulations upon them. What you should do is promote competition with them because, once you set in place regulations to regulate Facebook, then those same regulations can be used to regulate you at a later date. You always have to look at the identification of a problem and realize the cure can produce a much bigger problem.

If the cure on Facebook’s careless practices and policies that tilt to the left are embraced by conservatives, then what you have done is betray your own conservative ideology. Trying to come at it from a Christian world and life view, I believe that liberty governed by essential law is the best route and what I think the government should do is simply enforce its present laws to protect the privacy and security of Facebook users, but not attempt to create new laws to regulate the content of Facebook — that ought to be a matter of competition in the marketplace.

SOCIAL MEDIA SERVES TO SPREAD GOSPEL THROUGH FREE SPEECH

And one of the reasons this is important to me, I am not a Facebook fan but I am on it because, for me, it’s one more means of communication and I certainly want access to be able to share Biblical truth and Gospel perspectives on Facebook or Twitter or any of these social media but I know that my avenue is not to regulate them to allow me to do speech over their privately owned business, one that other people could start a similar business because of accessibility to the internet and I don’t want them to be regulated.

I want to use them, but I’ve got to realize the cost of using them and be willing to pay that price. And then, if they want to regulate what I say, then what I would like is competition and that there would be other avenues to say it.

Therefore, Tom, I always love free speech and freedom to practice your business because I am grateful for my freedom to speak the truth of the Gospel and get the Good News out over any source that’s available. And I love the freedom for people to be able to create new media outlets without governmental overreach.

COMING UP TUESDAY: THE TRANSGENDER EFFECT CONTINUES

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on Tuesday’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to revisit the transgender issue. There are a number of arenas in which this transgender issue is rearing its ugly head, including public policy and sports.

DR. REEDER: Very similar to today’s program — you have again, in the drive to the left, you have not only the issues of privacy, security and safety, but you also have the issue of chaos in the various arenas of life in which there is no clarity, no certainty and no boundaries and, as everyone knows, without boundaries, there is no playing field.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

2 mins ago

7 Things: Masks ordered for Alabama schools, how face coverings can help Alabama, Brooks calls out Army command for declaring MAGA racist and more …

7. Officers denied service in Daphne

  • After leaving court, a few Daphne Police Department officers went to Five Guys where employees reportedly turned their backs on the officers with at least one employee saying, “I’m not serving them.”
  • A local TV station reported that the officers left the restaurant and went somewhere else and corporate is “working with the store’s franchisee to investigate this situation.” Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth expressed support for officers and criticized the incident on social media, saying on Twitter, “What direction are we going as a society when the men and women who protect us from harm cannot order a simple meal?”

6. Biden supports defunding police and whatever else the Democrat Party’s left-wing puts in front of him

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  • In an interview, former Vice President Joe Biden was asked if “some” police funding should be redirected, and Biden said “absolutely.” His 2020 presidential campaign has insisted that Biden doesn’t support defunding the police, but doesn’t think they need military equipment since this is how they “become the enemy” in communities.
  • Biden also called for police reform and prison reform, saying, “It should be a rehabilitation system, not a punishment system.” It’s not surprising that Biden has taken this position as calls to remove funding from the police have grown more popular among Democrats.

5. Supreme Court decisions continue to roll out

  • In a saga that has gone on for seven years, the United States Supreme Court has finally decided that moral and religious objections to birth control are a way around the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. The media is framing this as a “conservative decision,” but the final ruling was 7-2 with liberal judges siding with Little Sisters of the Poor.
  • In the case of President Donald Trump’s financial records and tax returns, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue their final rulings on the issues. Two of those dealing with subpoenas for records with the subpoenas are coming from the House Oversight Committee and the House Intelligence and Financial Services Committee. Trump claims that they don’t have the authority to request the records, but even if the court rules in favor of subpoenas, the records wouldn’t be made public unless done so by a court order.

4. Alabama small businesses getting more support

  • A new program called “Revive Alabama” has been announced by Governor Kay Ivey that will provide $100 million in coronavirus relief for small businesses throughout the state.
  • The maximum value that will be given out is $15,000; funds are available on a first come first served basis through the Alabama Department of Revenue. Revive Alabama is funded through the $1.9 billion the state received through the CARES Act.

3. Leadership at Redstone Arsenal under review for labeling MAGA racist

  • U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has said that some U.S. Army officials at the Redstone Arsenal in North Alabama might have violated the Hatch Act by using federal government resources to distribute “racist and partisan political propaganda.”
  • In a statement released by Brooks, he says that officials distributed “materials that, among other offensive things, labels president Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan or ‘Celebration of Columbus Day’ as white supremacist.” Brooks would like for the U.S. Army to conduct an investigation and hold the guilty parties accountable.

2. Madison County healthcare executive: Masks work — here’s how

  • Now that there’s a mask mandate in Madison County, there was a press conference held where Crestwood Medical Center CEO Dr. Pam Hudson explained how effective masks can be in the community, saying that if just 80% of the community wears a mask, transmission of the coronavirus would be cut by 90%.
  • Hudson said that the area has seen an increase in cases of the coronavirus, explaining, “Much asymptomatic transmission is likely going on.” She also encouraged people to consider “masking and social distancing as a temporary vaccination,” since an actual vaccine is still “months” away.

1. Masks ordered for Alabama schools

  • While masks aren’t a requirement (except in Montgomery) for schools restarting in the fall, the Alabama Department of Education has ordered 2.5 million reusable masks, which would be enough for each student and staff member to have three.
  • The department clarified that “local public health officials and local elected officials, local school systems will determine if facial coverings are required. There is not a statewide facial covering mandate.” Hoover City Schools have already said that they’ll have a mask requirement for pretty much everyone except for someone sitting at their desk in the classroom.

15 hours ago

Innovation Fund joins Auburn to support development of OraSecure saliva collection device for COVID testing

AUBURN, Alabama — The Alabama Department of Commerce and the City of Auburn’s Industrial Development Board have teamed to award $250,000 in funding to accelerate the development of OraSecure LLC’s breakthrough patent-pending saliva collection device intended to help in the ongoing battle against the novel coronavirus.

The support will help OraSecure finalize the initial manufacturing run needed to begin mass producing its devices and complete validation with the FDA. This funding comes at a key time in the development of this product and should allow the OraSecure device to begin rapidly assisting the nation during the fight against COVID-19.

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The Alabama Innovation Fund, administered by Commerce, will provide $200,000 in funding, while the City of Auburn is providing $50,000 for OraSecure’s pilot program.

“The Alabama Innovation Fund is a key component in our efforts to spark the creation of high-impact ’Made in Alabama’ products by stimulating breakthrough research,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“With this support, we are helping OraSecure speed the development of a specimen collection device that can make a difference in the pandemic response while simultaneously raising the state’s profile in the bioscience industry.”

SAFER TESTING

The OraSecure device is designed to facilitate a safer, more comfortable, and less wasteful collection process for those seeking COVID-19 testing.

OraSecure was designed by five experts in the clinical and forensic testing industries with initial funding and support provided by Omega Laboratories Inc., a leading forensic drug testing laboratory with over 20 years of industry experience.

Under Omega Laboratories’ leadership, OraSecure LLC was spun-off as its own entity with the support of the City of Auburn and the State of Alabama. Initial operations will be based in Auburn.

OraSecure plans to offer the collection device as quickly as possible.

“It’s great to see innovative products being manufactured here in Auburn that will aid in public health efforts and the fight against COVID-19,” said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders. “OraSecure is a perfect example of the types of new technologies that we work to foster in our local businesses.”

CAPABILITIES

OraSecure said the city and people of Auburn feature a remarkable combination of expertise in bio-tech manufacturing, as well as the skills, resources, and capabilities needed for it to begin rapidly progressing through the prototyping and manufacturing process.

As the development and manufacturing of OraSecure progresses, Omega’s development team and distribution network will be key in the commercialization of OraSecure product.

The OraSecure collection device is especially attractive to laboratories because of its unique vacuum tube configurability. OraSecure can be configured in single and dual-tube collection options, and these vacuum tubes can be filled with a variety of different buffers.

OraSecure can be customized with a variety of vacuum type specimen tubes for automated testing and can provide a true split-specimen for laboratories interested in performing both active virus and antibody testing from a single collection.

Unlike the current nasal swab collections, OraSecure is patient driven, with patients depositing their saliva or sputum directly into the device. The secured tubes can be safely transported to the laboratory and be placed directly on automated equipment. This means that OraSecure greatly reduces the exposure risk to collectors and laboratory personnel.

Headquartered in Mogadore, Ohio, Omega Laboratories is a global leader in specialty drug testing, rapid alcohol testing, software solutions for clinical and forensic operations, and laboratory licensing. For more information on OraSecure, please visit www.orasecure.com.

INNOVATION FUND

The Alabama Innovation Fund was created as part of the Accelerate Alabama strategic plan in 2012 to help provide financial support for research and innovation-based commercialization taking place in the state.

Projects are selected for funding based on factors such as job-creation potential, the likelihood of successful commercialization and additional research possibilities. The program is administered by the Alabama Department of Commerce.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

16 hours ago

World Games 2022 Birmingham names Charles Barkley as honorary co-chair — ‘Chance to show the world what this community and its people are all about’

The World Games 2022 Birmingham on Wednesday announced that NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley will serve as an honorary co-chair of the competition.

This international multisport event features sports and disciplines not included in the Olympics. The event is typically held one year after the Olympics.

Since the 2020 Olympics were postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Games in Birmingham originally scheduled for 2021 were also pushed back a year.

RELATED: Signs, countdown clocks reflect new dates for Birmingham World Games

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Barkley starred collegiately at Auburn University before his storied career in the NBA. He is currently a prominent on-air analyst for TNT.

As an honorary World Games 2022 co-chair, Barkley will participate in several major events for the competition, including the opening ceremony. The basketball legend will also represent the Games, generating excitement and community support for the major global event.

“It’s an honor to have a global icon and one of Alabama’s most beloved sports figures join us for this once-in-a-lifetime event for Birmingham,” Nick Sellers, CEO of the Word Games 2022, said in a statement. “You won’t find someone with a bigger, more exciting personality than Charles Barkley. His international status and love for the Birmingham community will take this event to the next level.”

A native of Leeds, Alabama, Barkley’s 16-year professional career included being selected as an NBA All-Star 11 times, capturing two Olympic gold medals with Team USA and being named league MVP in 1993.

“I’ve always told anyone who would listen – and even those who wouldn’t – how great the state of Alabama and the Birmingham community are,” Barkley stated. “Being able to be a part of an event like The World Games 2022 is another chance to show the world what this community and its people are all about. I’m excited to support this event, and am looking forward to trying my hand at Korfball.”

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin also applauded the selection of Barkley.

“I can’t think of a better individual for this world-class event than the legendary Charles Barkley,” he commented. “Not only is he known and respected internationally, he’s a son of Alabama and a proud ambassador for the Birmingham community. He represents both the athletic prowess and community pride that defines the World Games 2022.”

The World Games’ Birmingham Organizing Committee has reportedly identified additional internationally known public figures with Alabama ties to join Barkley as honorary co-chairs and plans to announce those – once official – in the coming months.

”The world is coming to Birmingham, and so Birmingham needs good companions and well-known friends,” Joachim Gossow, CEO of the International World Games Association, concluded. ”We are pleased that Charles Barkley, a sportsman with a tremendous reputation, has agreed to be an Ambassador for The World Games 2022. Being a member of the US Basketball Dream Team at the Olympics in 1992, he knows best how a multi-sport event can inspire athletes and spark the fire within the host country.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

16 hours ago

Milestones bring Toyota Alabama closer to increased engine production

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Toyota Alabama announced today that it achieved two significant milestones this month as part of an ongoing expansion, a $288 million project originally announced in March 2019.

The milestones include the start of production for the all-new, redesigned 4-cylinder engine at the Huntsville facility, and the closing in of the plant’s new 150,000-square-foot V6 engine assembly line.

“These milestones represent significant achievements and further demonstrate Toyota’s long-term commitment to build where we sell,” said Dave Finch, Toyota Alabama president.

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“By boosting production capacity and flexibility, our dedicated work force can better serve customers and position our operations for stability and future success,” he added.

EXPANSION NO. 5

Upon the expansion is complete in 2021, the plant will add 450 new jobs. Toyota’s investment at the Alabama facility will climb to a total of $1.2 billion investment, solidifies the Huntsville plant as the automaker’s largest engine production center in North America.

Toyota Alabama supplies engines for one-third of all Toyota vehicles assembled in the U.S.

The latest expansion is the plant’s fifth since it began engine production in 2003. Annual engine capacity will increase 34 percent to 900,000, while total employment at the facility will top 1,800.

“Toyota has long been a pillar in our booming automotive industry, with its Huntsville engine plant operating in near-constant expansion mode since it launched production,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Over the years, we have developed a special relationship with this world-class automaker and, working together, we will build a brilliant future right here in Alabama,” he added.

MAZDA JOINT VENTURE

Meanwhile, Toyota is teaming with Mazda to build a $1.6 billion joint venture assembly plant just miles away in another location in Huntsville. Production, split evenly between the partners, is expected to begin in 2021.

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, as the venture is known, will employ 4,000 workers at full production.

The Alabama Department of Commerce and AIDT, the state’s primary workforce development agency, have joined area governments and organizations to support the project, which was announced in January 2018.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

17 hours ago

Huntsville healthcare executive: Masking and distancing a ‘temporary vaccination’ for COVID-19

At a Wednesday press conference of governmental entities in Madison County, Dr. Pam Hudson outlined the dramatic effect masking would have on reducing the transmission of COVID-19.

According to Hudson, CEO of Crestwood Medical Center, COVID-19 transmission would be reduced by 90% if 80% of the community wore a face covering.

Hudson’s statement comes as 66 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Madison County, according to her. She also noted that the percentage of positive tests at healthcare facilities in the area was now running at about the statewide average, and that there were currently more than 90 COVID-19 hospitalizations in county facilities.

“Things are not all well in our county,” Hudson remarked. “COVID-19 has gained and is continuing to gain footholds in our community.”

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She attributed this growth in cases to a lack of masking and social distancing.

Madison County enacted a mask mandate which went into effect Tuesday evening. This is a move that Hudson supports.

“Much asymptomatic transmission is likely going on,” she asserted.

With concerns about the number of available healthcare personnel, Hudson called for a renewed focus on precautionary measures.

“We have to flatten the curve again,” she said. “We have to cover our faces. We have to social distance at least six feet apart.”

Believing a COVID-19 vaccination is “months” away, Hudson remarked, “I would like to suggest we think about this masking and distancing as a temporary vaccination.”

RELATED: Dale Jackson: Either put the mask on for America, or donate to my GoFundMe and we’ll test the constitutionality of these mandatory mask rules

Also participating in the press conference, Madison Mayor Paul Finley expressed his desire to see a masking policy statewide.

“It would be much easier, statewide, if a mandate came out from the governor when it came to face coverings,” Finley outlined.

As for local enforcement of his area’s mandate, Finley sought to clarify his city’s role.

“We’re not out hunting folks who are not wearing masks,” he said. “We are there to support the community in moving forward. We are not out there as mask police. We are out there to try to help a community through this situation.”

Responding to a question asking whether the state should consider closing businesses again to stop the spread of COVID-19, Finley answered quickly, “I hope not.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia