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.

1 hour ago

Jalen Hurts gets one more shot at LSU — 3 playoff takeaways

The matchups for the college football playoff are set, and Jalen Hurts is back in Atlanta to face No. 1 LSU.

Hurts’ No. 4 Sooners are set to take on the Bayou Tigers in the Peach Bowl on December 28 in the first round of the playoffs. No. 2 Ohio State takes on No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

Here are three takeaways from the seedings:

1. There will be points scored in Atlanta. LSU has the No. 1 ranked offense in the country. The No. 2 ranked offense? Oklahoma. LSU and Oklahoma have the No. 32 and No. 24 ranked defenses, respectively. Hurts is an explosive quarterback with playoff experience in a system which has a history of putting up big numbers in big games. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is the likely Heisman Trophy winner. Expect this game to be a classic Big 12-style game flying up and down the field.

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2. The balance in Ohio State’s offense will expose Clemson’s losses on defense for the first time this season. With one of the worst schedules for a playoff team in recent memory, no one really knows how good Clemson is. The soft schedule has allowed Clemson’s defense to mask some of its losses on defense. On the defensive line alone, five players are now in the NFL who were with Dabo Swinney’s Tigers last season. That defense has not come close to getting stressed like it will in Arizona by Ohio State.

3. Prediction: LSU and Ohio State face off for the championship. LSU has gotten healthy in the secondary at just the right time. Three more weeks in between games should help and will be key against a dynamic Oklahoma offense. Ohio State has been the consensus most complete team in the country and one has to wonder how Clemson will handle seeing a good team for the first time all year. Throughout the entire year, LSU and Ohio State have looked like the best two teams in the country. Why would that change now?

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 hours ago

Gaston APSO brightens Childersburg shop window with holiday cheer

The Grinch can’t steal Christmas in downtown Childersburg.

To help catch shoppers’ interest, members of the Gaston Chapter of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) spruced up an empty shop window with trees, lighting and bright pops of holiday color. Indeed, the Gaston Grinch transformed a forlorn window into a joyful holiday scene.

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Karen White, a Plant E.C. Gaston scheduler, said the decorating project helped propel members into the Christmas spirit. Trish Wesson, the wife of Childersburg Mayor Ken Wesson, spurred the plan to decorate empty shops in the downtown area. With these efforts, merchants and many townspeople in Childersburg – the nation’s oldest continually occupied city, dating to 1540 – hope to attract more shoppers this holiday season.

Gaston APSO members were among 12 teams that spent several hours decorating. Another building resembles Santa’s workshop.

White, Barbara McGinnis, Kamber Nwransky and Sarah Hansen created the Grinch theme with paint, Christmas trees and ornaments. Gaston Maintenance Team Leaders Jason Bailey and Jason Blackerby safely strung and wired lights to illuminate the scene from dawn to dusk. Gaston APSO volunteers gave 18 hours to the mini-revitalization project.

“There are lots of empty storefronts, and these decorations helped revitalize our little town,” White said. “We pulled what we had in our closets and sheds. Our window looks great.”

White thinks that it would be helpful to keep displays in the town’s empty shops year-round.

“It brought joy to people in Childersburg, and we had so much fun doing it,” White said. “It makes you feel good when you go through town and see all of the windows brightened up.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 hours ago

Stars, including Alabama luminaries, come out for ‘Rockers on Broadway’

As Dolly Fox watched “Rockers on Broadway,” a New York fundraiser she produced, unfold a couple of weeks ago, she realized it was a full-circle moment for her.

Her mother, Yolande Betbeze Fox, had won the talent preliminary and the title crown at both the Miss Alabama and Miss America pageants, and Dolly Fox herself had gotten some early performing experience in musicals at Town and Gown’s Summerfest in Birmingham. Now, former Miss Alabama Callie Walker was on stage at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge, singing a duet with her sister, Scarlett, who appeared in Broadway’s “Carousel.”

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“This is all about mentoring kids in the arts,” Dolly says about “Rockers on Broadway.” “Mom would have never gotten where she ended up without training with the most wonderful mentors and teachers along the way. Now that I’m an only child, I feel like it’s important to use some of my mother’s money to give back to other young, talented women.”

At the top of that list is establishing a new Miss Alabama scholarship in memory of her mother, who died in 2016, and “Rockers on Broadway.”

In its 26th year, “Rockers on Broadway” was founded by Donnie Kehr, who starred on Broadway in “The Who’s Tommy.” The idea came from the show’s director, Des McAnuff, and Pete Townshend of The Who. The idea was to give the rock opera’s performers – mostly Broadway performers — experience performing in rock clubs.

That has continued year after year, presented by the PATH Fund (Performing Artists That Help) and benefiting several charities.

This year’s event honored Tony Award-winner LaChanze and Grammy-winning producer Russ Titelman and featured performances from Broadway luminaries and up-and-coming artists such as the Walker sisters.

“This event went so well,” says Fox, who has been a member of the PATH board for four years. “Callie and Scarlett were amazing. They were so rehearsed and professional. They really knew their stuff.”

Callie and Scarlett Walker sang “Enough is Enough” (a hit for Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer).  Alexa Ray Joel, daughter of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley, was among the performers, and her mother was in the audience.

“It was such an awesome evening,” Scarlett Walker says. “Having the opportunity to perform alongside the most amazing vocalists and musicians in the business was so magical.”

Her sister agreed.

“It honestly was one of the most exhilarating and fun performances I have ever been a part of,” Callie Walker says.

Dolly, whose father was Matthew Fox, president of Universal Pictures, had a famous champion herself in Andy Warhol, the pop artist who was a friend and a boss when she was an editor for his Interview magazine.

“Andy was such a mentor to me,” she says. “He came to everything I did, no matter how bad it was. I had such great mentors, and the parallel to Andy is actually quite relevant. He did that for me, and I’m trying to use any clout I have to do that for others.”

And her mother would be with her every step of the way, says Fox.

“We’re finding talent and mentoring it and giving it a leg up,” she says. “She would absolutely love this.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

6 hours ago

Roby: Celebrating 200 years of Alabama

For many, December 14 will be just another day to cross off the calendar; it’s another day closer to the holidays and the new year. For Alabamians, it marks one of the greatest celebrations to date in the history of our state. On December 14, 1819, Alabama was incorporated into the Union as the nation’s 22nd state. From North Alabama all the way down to the Wiregrass, Alabamians join together to commemorate the 200th anniversary of statehood to honor the beloved place we call home.

There are many incredible stories to be told about the historical impact made by our fellow Alabamians. The state has deep roots in our nation’s history.

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Many Alabama natives, some temporary and some permanent, were involved in critical turning points in American history. Alabama emerged as the center of the American Civil Rights Movement half a century ago and was home to pivotal events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Ms. Rosa Parks, a civil rights activist and Montgomery native, is widely known as the “first lady of civil rights.” Montgomery leaders recently unveiled a statue in downtown Montgomery recognizing Rosa Parks for her bravery and to serve as a reminder for future generations to continue down a path of righteousness. Ms. Parks’ actions changed the course of history, and her legacy will be remembered forever. Atlanta native Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., served as a pastor at Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and led the fight for equal rights. Parks and Dr. King represent faces of courage, strength, and equality for all. History changed right on our very own Alabama soil.

Not only is our state widely known for central moments in history, but we are also globally recognized for our presence in industries that are vital components to the success of our country. The agriculture industry is the state’s largest industry and is the largest employer in the Second Congressional District. Our state is home to thousands of acres of fertile farmland. Approximately half of the peanuts grown in the United States are cultivated within a 100-mile radius of the city of Dothan, also known as the “Peanut Capital of the World.”

Additionally, Alabama plays an integral role in the aerospace and defense industries with these two industries contributing to over 60,000 jobs in the state. North Alabama is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Redstone Arsenal, and the Anniston Army Depot, while Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base and Fort Rucker are located across the southern region of the state.

These are just a few examples of the incredible, rich history that our state has to offer, and I wish I could include them all. One initiative that does honor each of these milestones is ALABAMA 200 which was designed to celebrate the people, places, and history of the state over a three-year time span. Beginning in 2017 and culminating with the state’s 200th birthday in 2019, ALABAMA 200 curated events and activities across all 67 counties to engage with Alabamians far and wide. Teachers, students, organizations and local leaders are among those included in these exciting events bringing local community residents and even visitors together. On Saturday, December 14, the state will participate in a finale commemoration in the Capital City. It will be the largest birthday celebration the people of Alabama have seen, and it is a unique and special opportunity to gather and honor the history and people that make the state of Alabama great. I am extremely excited to join the people of Alabama to celebrate our state’s history.

If you are able, I highly encourage you and your family to attend the events of the ALABAMA 200 finale celebration. There is no better way to pay tribute to the state we each hold so close to our hearts than by gathering in the Capital City to praise our great state.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

8 hours ago

Alabama Power Foundation marks 30 years of giving

It’s hard to imagine a time when the Alabama Power Foundation didn’t exist, especially for the dozens of organizations throughout the state that have advanced with its support.

For three decades, the foundation has looked for ways to elevate Alabama and boost communities through charitable giving, giving back more than $230 million to the communities that Alabama Power serves.

“Since our founding 30 years ago, we have prided ourselves in being a catalyst for change and for service to the state of Alabama,” said Myla Calhoun, Alabama Power Foundation president and vice president of Charitable Giving at Alabama Power.

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Alabama Power Foundation marks 30 years of giving from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Organizations that focus on education, the environment, health and human service, civic and community, arts and culture and other areas have benefited.

“We really enable our partner agencies to do what they do best,” Calhoun said. “So, when we talk about our success, really it’s their success that we’re proud of.”

Success like that the Literacy Council of Central Alabama has enjoyed.

“Ever since (our founding), Alabama Power Foundation has been a really strong supporter,” said Katrina Watson, president and executive director of the Literacy Council of Central Alabama. “We couldn’t be where we are without the Alabama Power Foundation’s long-standing support.”

Mark Dixon, president of A+ Education Partnership, said the Alabama Power Foundation doesn’t just give money but takes an active role in ensuring programs are successful.

“Alabama Power Foundation and Alabama Power Company have been a big supporter of ours since day one and over the years provided a lot of funding that really allows us to grow our mission, which is to create great schools for every child,” Dixon said. “We do two programs in schools – the Alabama Best Practices Center and A+ College Ready – and part of that is expanding great training for teachers and advanced placement programs for students. Alabama Power helped us fund those as a partner from the very beginning.”

Calhoun said the foundation’s mission fits in with the history of Alabama Power, with the ultimate goal of elevating the state.

“We believe and it is our hope that what we do creates a platform that makes economic development and community development and, really, the health and vitality of the state a bit easier,” she said. “And that’s what gets us going every day and that’s what makes us think strategically about the work that we do. And that’s what helps us to empower the agencies who day in and day out are doing the hard work in the communities where we serve.”

Grant recipients talk about the importance of Alabama Power Foundation from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)