Impeachment & TheDonald
As the 2nd Impeachment trial of President Donald Trump wraps up its second day, I’m asked by numerous people how I felt about TheDonald.win being mentioned in Congress and in the Articles of Impeachment. The Washington Times interviewed me briefly about this just the other day, and I believe my comments there are still relevant.
The Articles of Impeachment cited 5 or 6 comments from TheDonald.win prior to January 6, 2021. Of those, only 1 received more than 500 upvotes. None of the posts related to them made it to the front page. The period of time the comments were made covered between 1 and 2 weeks. This was during a time of heavy traffic. TheDonald was receiving between 100,000 – 200,000 comments per day, and well over 10,000 posts.
Someone took a lot of time to dig through those posts and comments to find 6 of the worst. None of them had been reported at the time they made it into the Articles of Impeachment, therefore none of them had drawn the scrutiny of a moderator. That is not abnormal. Social Media sites that deal in tens of thousands or even millions of comments on a daily basis are not going to find every single offensive line.
TheDonald.win has been accused of inciting and planning the January 6th events in D.C. in the Wikipedia article regarding January 6th. They linked to this BuzzFeed article for citation. Interesting to note that the same Buzzfeed article calls out Twitter and Facebook…
Parler, Telegram, and Gab were all also called out in the Wikipedia article. Controlling speech and thought begins with controlling the channels they use to communicate. Services popular with and owned by major democratic donors rarely receive scrutiny for being conduits of the same vitriol. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, and Discord, all major conduits for communications between these groups go unmentioned in the article.
Now for something for the less tech savvy to understand about Antifa, BLM, and even the Ayatollah’s messages getting through when much milder comments from conservative figures often result in a ban: it was programmed that way. It is, as the saying goes, “Working as intended.”
TheDonald.win at most had 10 very active and 10 semi-active volunteers to help moderate the content on a site that received millions of unique views some days, 100,000+ new comments, and 10,000+ new posts. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit have millions (if not billions) invested into AI to help patrol their sites along with a small army of paid employees. In some cases they have thousands of unpaid moderators as well, as is the case for Reddit.
TheDonald.win used automation similar to those platforms. Their Automoderator was a computer script that looked for key words and phrases and proactively removed them without need of intervention. It was regularly used when someone’s private information would make its way online or a very hot button issue would bring out trolls from all over the internet to try and stir up trouble.
The Automoderator bot was truly just. It did not care what your username was, who you voted for, or what history you had anywhere else online. It merely looked for phrases and reacted as it was programmed. What the major social media sites have done is program their bots to do the exact opposite. Conservatives get banned for speech that regularly is approved for posting from Liberals. It is most likely that these companies are sorting people into political categories and applying rules to them differently based on which category they fall into. It is perhaps the only way to explain instances of conservatives being randomly banned so often while I cannot find a single instance of a liberal politician receiving a similar unexplained suspension.
Lastly, let us visit the topic of Political Hyperbole. In Watts v. United States (1969), the US Supreme Court ruled that true threats against the President are not protected speech, but crude statements were political hyperbole, and nothing more. The media, and many congressmen, want to attack TheDonald for comments and posts that amounted to nothing more than Political Hyperbole in the early morning of January 6th, 2021. Even prior to the “attack on the Capitol”, TheDonald moderators regularly told their users to avoid people trying to incite violence. They pointed out that President Trump called for a Peaceful Protest and encouraged that and nothing more. Perhaps more could have been done to curtail some of the worst of the comments hidden in less prominent posts leading up to that date, but it surely cannot be said that nothing was done nor that the moderators were encouraging violence.
It is important that we all take stock of our words before we put them out into the public sphere, especially on the internet or in front of the news media. That being the case, I think it is reasonable for us to wonder how much damage to American discourse and civility was done by our politicians over the last years:
“No peace, No sleep”-Maxine Waters, 2018
“We’re going to win this battle”-Maxine Waters, 2018
“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them! And you tell them that they are not welcome, anymore, anywhere,”
-Maxine Waters, 2018
Reporters and Politicians that eagerly voted for a Presidential Candidate that knowingly used garbage intelligence provided to her by a Russian now want Trump supporters to feel guilt for the last 4 years. They also happily still back 2 Presidents (Barrack and Biden) that knew about the source of that intel and allowed the country to contort in a tornado of false accusations and an impeachment trial for years and nearly tear itself apart at the seams. Their Mea Culpa will not come. They won (apparently) in 2020, so the means have been justified.
With as little friction as that caused them, it is unlikely they will not resort to such tactics again in future.