- - Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Hillary Clinton still can’t believe she lost the election and is using her social media presence to call out those whom she feels were responsible for her loss. “We should all care about how social media platforms play a part in our democratic process. Because unless it’s addressed it will happen again.

“The midterms are in 8 months. We owe it to our democracy to get this right, and fast,” she posted in February. Never mind her campaign paid slightly less in costs per impression on Facebook than Donald Trump’s campaign, according to Axios media. She thinks the tech heads in Silicon Valley had it in for her.

Like it or not, and the left doesn’t like it at all, Mr. Trump’s advertising on Facebook was better than Mrs. Clinton’s and better than any of the other candidates he beat on his way to winning the Republican nomination. It was a matter of style and tactics. Discrimination by social media platforms played no part in the election’s outcome.

Axios again: “The Trump campaign used Facebook mostly to drive direct-response fundraising efforts, while the Clinton campaign used Facebook mostly to drive persuasion messaging These opposing tactics are what likely caused the rate discrepancy, not any bias towards candidates’ campaigns by Facebook.”

Any campaign’s advertising goal is to maximize the effectiveness of what they spend to grow its share of the vote going into Election Day. Mr. Trump did this while he travelled the country, linking fund-raising stops with rallies that attracted tens of thousands of people overall, and he did it in cyberspace by creating content that drove voter engagement. Mrs. Clinton just couldn’t match it, both because she was a lackluster candidate propped up by her allies in the national media and because her message just wasn’t compelling.

Nonetheless she’s attacking social media platforms just like the rest of the liberals because she like them realizes future campaigns will be waged on the Internet with the same kind of intensity and ferocity backed by big money that used to go to television and, before that, radio and print.

These attacks on the technology, and that includes the allegations Russian propaganda tipped the election to Mr. Trump, is all about creating an environment in which the American people believe regulation of content on the Internet is vital to the security of American democracy.

After Barack Obama was elected, people, especially those who cover politics, simply took it for granted the left had established ownership of cyberspace. Mr. Trump proved that wasn’t so and the push-back has been harsh.

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Democratic Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, also the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, are actively pushing the federal government to apply anti-trust regulations to tech companies. And lots of former tech company staffers who previously advocated for a hands-off approach when Google and its confederates were seemingly hardwired into the West Wing were suddenly outspoken in their calls for more federal involvement in cyberspace.

Dipayan Ghosh, a Facebook exec who quit his job shortly after Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 and turned to writing for center-left think tanks about the need for government regulation of the tech sector, is one of them.

“Mr. Ghosh,” The New York Times reported, became one of “the latest members of the political party that more eagerly embraced Silicon Valley to sharply criticize the tech industry. Tech policy officials from the Obama administration and from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, as well as prominent Democrats in Congress, are demanding changes from companies they had long viewed as too important and nimble for regulations.”

Disaffected Democrats and potential competitors are all taking aim now at tech companies and tech platforms in an effort, disguised as a public awareness campaign, to win back for themselves what they thought they owned. A new left-wing campaign, “Truth About Tech,” is pushing for new regulations on Silicon Valley and decrying the horrors of “tech addiction.”

The Center for Humane Technology, staffed by left-wing former tech executives, is partnering with Common Sense Media, a project of liberal mega-donor Tom Steyer’s brother James, to hold events raising the profile of pro-regulation figures like Chelsea Clinton, potential Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro and Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey who, either as a congressmen or senator, rarely met a government regulation of private industry he didn’t like.

Truth About Tech gets $7 million of Steyer money but, more interestingly, $50 million in donated airtime from Silicon Valley competitors like Comcast and DirecTV. The line they’re pushing, that the only answer to “tech addiction” is for the government to act, is being backed by efforts like Sen. Markey’s bill to have the government fund research into technology’s impact on children’s health.

Unfortunately, some, like Oregon Republican Greg Walden, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction over these issues, seem open to the idea that government regulation should apply to digital ads and other notions that will setback rather than hasten the arrival of 5G.

The fact that the left is suddenly wary of the influence of Silicon Valley on the nation’s political life and its children should not be read as an indication Democrats and Republicans are finding common ground to do good. A bad idea is still a bad idea even if it has bipartisan support. Republican leaders need to remain true to their anti-regulatory instincts.

Peter Roff is a former senior political writer for United Press International and a commentator who appears regularly on the One America News network.

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