Fox News Commentator Calls For A 'Backlash' Against Big Tech… Because Wikileaks Released His Phone Number

from the say-that-again? dept

It’s widely recognized that there’s been a widespread backlash against the big tech companies over the last few years. Politicians on both sides of the aisle in the US have been calling for massive, sometimes crippling, regulations, fines or even antitrust breakups of the companies. Regulators around the globe have been fining the companies billions of dollars.

Apparently all of that is news to Fox News contributor Juan Williams, who has taken to the august pages of The Hill to publish an op-ed calling for a backlash to big tech. Dude, it’s already happening. Still, perhaps Williams has a new argument that is worth considering? I mean, there are legitimate points to be made about competition, privacy and the like. But… nope. Williams is mad that Wikileaks — which, last I checked, is not considered a member of “big tech” — leaked his cell phone number in a cache of John Podesta emails:

Tell the truth ? you love Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the rest.

I did, too. Then it got personal for me.

In 2016, Russian hackers, using WikiLeaks, ?doxed? me.

They published my private cell phone number in a dump of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta?s stolen emails. I gave him my number in a private email to set up an interview.

Once the number was out, my phone blew up. Pranksters harassed me. Thuggish partisans threatened me. I had to get a new phone as I was covering the final weeks of the campaign.

So, uh, what does that have to do with “Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the rest”? I have absolutely no clue. And neither does Williams. But apparently, it’s a reason to attack them. Oh, also because some asshole troll wrote negative reviews on his upcoming book on Amazon.

Then, in 2018, a smiling man came up after I hosted a television show in Dallas to tell me how much he enjoyed ?trolling? me online with racist language.

I couldn?t believe he was saying this to my face. His smile made it weird.

He then bragged about how he and his pals wrote phony reviews of a book I wrote on President Trump?s history of racism. He wanted to bring down the book?s rating on Amazon, even though it had not yet been released and he had not read it.

And get this ? this guy then asked for a selfie.

That’s certainly a good example of an asshole troll doing asshole trollish things. But according to Williams, it’s proof of why we need to attack social media companies?

This is just one horrible way the world has been transformed for the worse by social media.


Then he just blames them all for recent mass shootings.

The recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton reminded the nation of the damage done by Big Tech’s refusal to take responsibility for hate speech, racism and calls to violence.

Wait. What did any of those sites have to do with the mass shootings in either place? This is just a random slur for no reason at all. There is no connection at all. Indeed, there’s a much stronger connection between those shootings and… wait for it, Williams’ own employer:

There is a striking degree of overlap between the words of right-wing media personalities and the language used by the Texas man who confessed to killing 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso this month.


An extensive New York Times review of popular right-wing media platforms found hundreds of examples of language, ideas and ideologies that overlapped with the mass killer?s written statement ? a shared vocabulary of intolerance that stokes fears centered on immigrants of color. The programs, on television and radio, reach an audience of millions.

So, uh, Juan Williams, perhaps there should be a “backlash” against your own house, before you start throwing stones at others. But, nope. It’s important for Fox News to keep the narrative focused on the tech companies, lest anyone take a look at its own efforts. And one way to fuel the narrative is to lie about it and then poll the public you fooled. Williams plays along:

Polls now show a sharp increase in Americans who are furious with big technology companies that rake in millions while refusing to take any responsibility for the spread of hateful language, bizarre conspiracy theories, financial scams and trolls ? as well as the derailing of honest political discourse.

Funny, but it’s Williams buddies at Fox News who keep arguing that these platforms take too much responsibility on the site and are supposedly “banning conservatives,” and that’s why Senators like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz keep threatening laws to stop these sites from taking down any speech. Meanwhile, you have to be horrifically and totally out of touch to argue that these sites have not been trying to deal with “hateful language, bizarre conspiracy theories, financial scams and trolls.” They’ve been trying. They’ve been failing, but part of that is the impossibility of the task. And part of it is the intellectually dishonest claims by folks like Williams.

Start with the big tech companies? refusal to stop Russia from interfering in the 2016 election with a deluge of phony online posts designed to tear the country apart by race, religion, sexual preference, and fear of immigrants.

“Refusal to stop” is an interesting way to rewrite history. First off, according to Fox News, all that Russia stuff is a hoax and we should be holding people responsible for “years of lies” about it. But now, Williams is claiming that tech companies should be held liable for not stopping what his colleagues insist is a total hoax? Second, it is absolutely true that social media companies were caught unaware of the extent of Russian operations on social media during the 2016 election. But it’s also true that detailed data analysis showed that it was Fox News and not Russian trolls who were more successful in spreading the kind of bogus propaganda the Russians were pushing.

Again, Mr. Williams, perhaps check your own house first.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a leading candidate for the White House in 2020, is following Hughes? lead by campaigning on a plan to break up the big tech companies.

And Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has introduced legislation to hold tech companies accountable for the fact that consumers ? especially young children ? are becoming addicted to tech products and harming their health in the process.

Williams is so clueless he doesn’t even realize that Hawley’s other recently introduced bill would literally ban what Williams is requesting in terms of having companies “take responsibility” for hate speech online.

Back in December, I wrote in this column:

?An honest 2020 election is not possible without Congress getting its hands dirty by confronting Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google, the tech corporations often referred to by the acronym ?FAANG.??

The problem has only gotten worse.

Congress ? for the future of our democracy, please bring on the tech backlash!

Again, all of the evidence says that Fox News had significantly more impact than any of the big internet companies, and Williams’ sole point of complaint is that Wikileaks — not a big tech company — released an email with his phone number, and some random asshole online trolled him. Maybe, next time, Mr. Williams can take a look at his own employer first.

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Companies: facebook, google, wikileaks

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Comments on “Fox News Commentator Calls For A 'Backlash' Against Big Tech… Because Wikileaks Released His Phone Number”

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"The man is an idiot."

You can say a lot of things about Trump. But the fact is that he has managed to instill a sense of fanaticism in his voter base not normally seen outside of religious cults.

  • He can lie outright, in every other sentence and get away with "Donald just being Donald" – while retaining his hold on the office.
  • He can get caught – on tape – describing the proper way of using a woman’s genitals as a handle – and still get elected president of the united states.
  • He can get away with putting an acknowledged white supremacist in as chief of staff and have his lawyer pay hush money to porn stars.
  • He can even have a large in-depth investigation of malfeasance – the Mueller report – sanitized by having a known stooge of his tell people the opposite of what the report says…and people believe the stooge rather than the report.

Bill Clinton would have been hung on the white house lawn for even one of those acts.
Hell, Tricky Dick should take a knee in mute worship.

If that is an idiot then this tells us rather a lot of very unflattering things about the US citizenry as Trump not only got elected but remains in office.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Big Zof Got Caught Lying

950 posts. Live video probably. Give it up bro. Nobody is listening to Zof crying, or his Alex Jones conspiracies, or his racist bullshit, or any of the other nonsense Zof spreads with his mind numbingly dull posts after today. You are busted. Not sorry. Stop playing. You can stop pretending people believe you. Because we don’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The sad part

He’s the guy whos hired who if you observe long enough is doing a comedy relief role but will probably turn into the “mad as hell guy” one day.

Him:well I just think that if you put a good lens on the issue then it looks-
Host: lens? Is that rhetorical? “Laughs”
Him: “wide eyes” nah man “rhetorical” is when you invite me to your shows to sit in this “kicks chair backwards” chair for many years just to hear you PRETEND to care.
“Camera cuts”

I have seen guys like that man lol

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: The sad part

"Oh I get it, conservatives are universally stupid and liberals are smart progressives that never incorrectly throw around blame."

Not really, no.

However, most of us non-US posters also do not define "conservatives" as "bigots and racists" or "alt-right religious fanatics".

You do realize all the founding fathers were, by definition, liberals, and that liberals wrote that constitution of yours, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The sad part

“He is the voice of Democrats which is one of the reasons why the authors mocking tone is displaced.

Ok I have seen Tucker’s show as well as the others and how his conversations go with “guest”
When you are the voice of the Democrats on Fox News “god that sounds so creepy like an exiled Russian who knows he’s only one outpost from Siberia” your opinions on things consist of “agreement” “eh its ok” or “safe words gently saying you may not like it” that will either get you made fun of. Dodged altogether or when that does not work the ol camera cut to another segment.

This man has the freedom and mobility of a dog who will never see sun if he is not allowed.

Gary (profile) says:

Content Neutrality

Sure, lets enforce this starting with Faux News. (Which Cadet Bonespurs slams just for COVERING his opponents.)

The the Feds can come in and enforce it on StormFront and Infowars!

In the meantime, anyone that that gets de-platformed for endorsing the Nazi’s can go cry wherever they want.

Anonymous Coward says:

Everyone Fox News formula is easy to understand.
When you say something remotely “yay” to them they like you and spread words of joy and peace to you even at the expense of themselves.
And the. Two minutes later you are the devil because you are in opposition to them Becuase you did something that offended the channels politics and now your a democrat pr a guy who….I don’t know hides the remote so they can’t watch tv…

They have no depth they are not a complicated Villain they are not even a news channel lol what you see is what you get.

You you could beat organizations like that the same way you do people like that: by giving them a false sense of security and pretending to agree with them just enough that it sounds like you are a friend lol

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Kind of proves the point -- BANANA PEEL

It is all — literally all — the fault of the mega-techs. I’m waiting for some idiot to sue a mega-tech because he slipped on a banana peel.

The lawsuit will be based on the theory that the mega-tech published a story about someone slipping on a banana peel, making the mega-tech liable for all banana peels on earth — so give me money.

Roy Rogers says:

"This is just one horrible way the world has been transformed for the worse by social media.


It is social medias fault that everyone wants to take a selfie and post it. At least that is the argument I have heard elsewhere.

Sorry, no citation, it was quite some time ago, after a selfie (for a social media site) murdered someone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Ever hear of "Action Movies?" It is a genre of movies that overwhelmingly contains guns. Movies are used to communicate a message. See any type of connection yet?

Mentioning a few scapegoats is the only genre I mentioned. Do scapegoats have to come from same class, in your culture?

Do you see drug addicts, another scapegoat, as a form of entertainment for yourself or in the same class as communication, Mr. Sackler?

Roy Rogers says:

I didn’t realize you had to send nudes to strangers to stop strangers from sharing your nudes (copywrong)

Online Harassment: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
"Online harassment is a major problem, but it’s rarely prosecuted. If only we’d been warned about this in the early days of the internet."

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: ... and?

People tend to pay more attention to the person holding a cardboard sign ranting about the end of the world than they do the person holding a professionally made one advertising their business. Or if you want another example, sports vs educational content.

‘Gets more attention’ does not necessarily equate to ‘credible’ or ‘worth more than the other thing’.

Anonymous Coward says:

"all of the evidence says that Fox News had significantly more impact than any of the big internet companies"

Social media poses a greater threat to democracy than any of the legacy media outlets. You don’t need a fancy study to know that if Google and Facebook decided to use their vast reach to tip the scales in the next election that they could easily do so? And that under current law, they could legally do so because they are private companies and can do whatever they damn well please.

Techdirt often launches into tirades against the power of corporations in our digital lives, but is particularly blind to the evils of corporate America when it’s defending massive social media corporations.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: ... Adam?

Social media poses a greater threat to democracy than any of the legacy media outlets. You don’t need a fancy study to know that if Google and Facebook decided to use their vast reach to tip the scales in the next election that they could easily do so?

Article: Here’s a study showing that X, rather than Y, had a higher impact on the election, contrary to what people are claiming.

AC: I reject your reality, and substitute my own!

R,ogs/s says:

re: trolling

re: “what did any of those sites have to do with the mass shootings in either place?”

Its impossible to tell, because the evidence of law enforcement trolls, JTRIG/FVEY radicalizers, crisis PR trolls, and ADL /SPLC sponsored speech police, provocateurs and deplatformers are webscrubbed from FAANG platforms as soon as the, “bad guys ” shoot something up.

Is THAT a conspiracy theory, or just more DVIC /K 4 hiding the ball?

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