Thursday, March 23, 2023

Last Call For Do You Know What Your Kids Are Tweeting?

Utah becomes the first US state to require age verification and parental permission for all social media platforms for accounts and profiles made by children under 18.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed two pieces of sweeping social media regulation into law Thursday that require social media companies to get parental consent for minors using their services, making Utah the first state to impose such measures in the U.S.

Versions of the regulations are being considered in four other states and in several federal proposals in Congress.

The new Utah laws — H.B. 311 and S.B. 152 — require that social media companies verify the age of any Utah resident who makes a social media profile and get parental consent for any minor who wishes to make a profile. It also forces social media companies to allow parents to access posts and messages from their child’s account.

The laws also prohibit social media companies from displaying ads to minors, showing minor accounts in search results, collecting information about minors, targeting or suggesting content to minors, or knowingly integrating addictive technologies into social media apps used by minors. They also impose a curfew on the use of social media for minors, locking them out of their social media accounts between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. based on the location of a user’s device, unless adjusted with the consent of a parent.

Utah’s laws come amid ongoing debates about the impact of social media on young people’s mental health, a link that is widely theorized but remains the subject of academic study. Mental health issues among young people have been labeled a crisis, with particular concerns about the mental health of young women.

Social media companies have until March 1, 2024, to comply with the laws, at which point they become punishable with potential civil and criminal penalties.

In interviews with NBC News, sponsors of the legislation said that they were motivated by mental health concerns posed by social media use among young people, and that they hope Utah’s new laws serve as inspiration for other states or for Congress.
I think this is going to get tied up in the courts for years, but I suspect more voters than not would support laws like this nationally. What I expect are drastically weakened laws that will emerge from the court battles in five years or so.
What I'm saying is, don't expect Utah's social media law to ever take effect as is.

Burning Lake Of Fire, Con't

Arizona's top court has declined to hear Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake's challenge to her election loss, but kept the case alive by sending one of Lake's claims back to a county judge to review.

Lake asked the Arizona Supreme Court to consider her case after a Maricopa County judge and state appeals court rejected her claims that she was the rightful governor, or that a new election should take place.

The former television news anchor made seven legal claims in her case, six of which the state's top court said were properly dismissed by lower courts, according to an opinion released Wednesday written by Chief Justice Robert Brutinel.

Those included claims that tens of thousands of ballots were "injected" into the election, which Lake called an "undisputed fact" in her lawsuit, as well as alleging that problems with tabulation machines disenfranchised "thousands" of voters.

The opinion said Lake's challenges were "insufficient to warrant the requested relief under Arizona or federal law."

But the sixth legal claim, which has to do with Lake's allegation that Maricopa County did not follow signature verification procedures, must receive a second look by a county judge, the court ordered. The county and appeals courts interpreted Lake’s signature-related challenge as applying to the policies themselves, not how the policies were applied in 2022, and dismissed her claim based on grounds that she filed her legal challenge too late.

But that was an error, the Supreme Court said, noting, "Lake could not have brought this challenge before the election."

Lake's claim invokes a section of Arizona law that requires signatures on early ballot envelopes be checked against the signature already in a voter's file, and sets the process and timeline for verifying, or "curing," a ballot if the signature doesn't appear to match. She claimed Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer's office accepted "a material number" of ballots with unmatched signatures last year.

The Supreme Court did not evaluate Lake's signature claim on its merit, only on the legal justifications offered by prior courts. The court's order requires Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson to evaluate that single element of Lake's case again to determine if the claim was properly dismissed previously, or if Lake can prove “votes (were) affected ‘in sufficient numbers to alter the outcome of the election.’”

The Supreme Court quoted the appeals court ruling, saying that to prove her claim, Lake must provide a “competent mathematical basis to conclude that the outcome would plausibly have been different, not simply an untethered assertion of uncertainty.

In response to the ruling, Richer, who also is a Republican, said, “I of course have the utmost respect for both the people sitting on the court and the court as an institution, and we’ll now proceed and win, again, for about the 30th time."

His office, as well as the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, have defended their work in numerous lawsuits stemming from the November election, and became targets for attack among losing Republican candidates and their allies.

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, a defendant in the lawsuit, did not comment Wednesday evening on the court's ruling.

Alex Nicoll, a spokesperson for Lake, declined comment, noting Lake’s longstanding refusal to speak to The Arizona Republic. In a separate statement sent to The Republic and other media outlets, Lake made various claims that cannot be verified and overstated the court’s ruling. She said she was "thrilled" by the court's decision and that the signature issue “alone casts the veracity of Katie Hobb’s victory in serious doubt.”

In addition to further review of the signature verification piece, there is another unresolved issue in the case: whether Lake should face sanctions for filing what Hobbs’ attorneys have dubbed a frivolous and bad-faith lawsuit. Lawyers for Hobbs asked the court to order Lake to cover their costs and attorneys' fees, and Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes’ lawyers sought unspecified sanctions as well.

The Supreme Court said Lake, Hobbs and Fontes could file court arguments on the issue, but restricted those arguments only to Lake’s factual claims, such as that over 35,000 ballots were “added” to affect the outcome of the election.

Brutinel succinctly shot down that claim.

“The record does not reflect that 35,563 unaccounted ballots were added to the total count,” he wrote in the court’s opinion. “The motions for sanctions will be considered in due course
So Lake may have a legal claim to a small part of her case, which isn't actually something that would have affected the outcome of the election at all. Meanwhile, legal sanctions against her for wasting the state's time are being considered.
The bigger picture here is that Lake's claims that the election was stolen from her were laughed out of court completely.  It's ball game, and the only questions left are how badly Lake is going to be made to pay for her farce.

The Circus Of The Damned, Con't

The clown show in the House GOP continues as Jim Jordan's "weaponization of the federal government" subcommittee is weaponizing the federal government to go after colleges and universities for the crime of...working with the Biden administration.

House Republicans have sent letters to at least three universities and a think tank requesting a broad range of documents related to what it says are the institutions' contributions to the Biden administration’s “censorship regime.”

The letters are the latest effort by a House subcommittee set up in January to investigate how the federal government, working with social media companies, has allegedly been “weaponized” to silence conservative and right-wing voices. So far, the committee’s investigations have amplified a variety of dubious, outright false and highly misleading Republican grievances with law enforcement, many of them espoused by former President Donald Trump. Committee members have cited supposed abuses that include the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, its investigations of Jan. 6 rioters and the Biden administration’s purported use of executive powers to shut down conservative viewpoints on social media.

Now, universities and their researchers are coming under the spotlight of the committee, which the Republicans have labeled the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. The letters, signed by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who is chair of both the House Judiciary Committee and the subcommittee, were sent in early March.

They cover an investigation into how “certain third parties, including organizations like yours, may have played a role in this censorship regime by advising on so-called ‘misinformation,’” according to a copy of one of the letters obtained by ProPublica.

The committee requested documents and information dating back to January 2015 between any “employee, contractor, or agent of your organization” and the federal government or social media organizations pertaining to the moderation of social media content. ProPublica confirmed the requests went to Stanford University, the University of Washington, Clemson University and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The letters have prompted a wave of alarm among those in the field that the congressional inquiry itself, no matter what it finds, will lead universities to pull back on this research just as the 2024 election gets underway. “Recent efforts definitely have a chilling effect on the community of experts across academia, civil society and government built up to understand broader online harms like harassment, foreign influence and — yes — disinformation,” Graham Brookie, who leads studies in this area at the Atlantic Council, told ProPublica.

“The ‘weaponization’ committee is being weaponized against us,” another researcher told ProPublica. Like half a dozen others interviewed for this story, this person asked not to be identified because of the ongoing congressional probe.

Democrats have called the committee a modern-day House Un-American Activities Committee, akin to the congressional committee that pursued alleged communists during the McCarthy era.

Since Rep. Jordan took over the gavel of the judiciary committee in January, he has issued more than 80 subpoenas and requests for documents. Recipients have included the CEOs of social media companies, intelligence officials who signed on to a statement about Hunter Biden’s laptop during the 2020 campaign and members of the National School Boards Association who asked the Justice Department to investigate threats of violence against school board officials. Jordan himself refused a subpoena to testify before the Democratic-led House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, prompting that committee to refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee.

Jordan’s missives were sent a day after a committee hearing on the “Twitter files,” leaked internal communications from the company that purported to show how right-wing accounts were sidelined and silenced. In written testimony, a panelist accused a broad swath of organizations and individuals of being members of the “Censorship Industrial Complex,” including, he implied, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, CIA, Department of Defense and universities. The witness wrote disinformation researchers, working with the government, are “creating blacklists of disfavored people and then pressuring, cajoling, and demanding that social media platforms censor, deamplify, and even ban the people on these blacklists.”

A New York University study concluded in 2021 that social media had not silenced those on the right. “The claim of anti-conservative animus” by social media companies, the study said, “is itself a form of disinformation: a falsehood with no reliable evidence to support it."

A spokesperson for Rep. Jordan did not respond to requests for comment.
So the McCarthyism meatheads are at it again, this time making it clear they will target universities and colleges that participate in "unapproved" research that might be communism in disguise, or something.

Everything old is new again.


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