Good Morning. Here’s what you need to know to start the day, along with perspective from both sides for calmer coffee conversations with your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers. Plus, a bit of good news: Meet the 13-year-old who graduated from college with four associate’s degrees.
📰 TOP STORY
In the last week, President Trump’s volatile relationship with social media platforms reached a new fever pitch. Even though, according to Axios, “Trump’s online fan size dwarfs Biden’s on Twitter (77m to 4.9m), Facebook (27m to 1.7m) and Instagram (19.1m to 1.8m)”, the President feels like he is being treated unfairly by the “Masters of the Universe“. In fact, Breitbart claims “the Big Tech companies [are intent] on seizing control of free speech around the world.” To that end, on Thursday Trump signed an executive order that would “crack down” on social media platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. This decision appears to have been catalyzed by Twitter choosing to fact-check some of the president’s tweets on Tuesday in regards to mail-in voting, which Trump claims is unfair censorship. Trump perceived these actions to be a concerted effort by the “Silicon Valley Liberals” to thwart his reelection bid. In a defiant response, the president tweeted, “Big Tech is doing everything in their very considerable power to CENSOR in advance of the 2020 Election. If that happens, we no longer have our freedom. I will never let it happen!” Here’s how it’s playing out:
On the Left: The president’s latest directive is not sitting well with progressives who argue his attempt to “crack down” on (what he sees as) censorship is censorship itself. Trump claims that Twitter’s fact-check is a violation of the First Amendment, but Laurence H. Tribe and Joshua A. Geltzer, at The Washington Post, explain “…it’s no constitutional violation …the First Amendment applies to the government – not private actors like Twitter.” Moreover, Tribe and Geltzer clarify that Twitter attaching a fact-check label to Trump’s Tweet is a form of speech that would be protected under the First Amendment. They explain that the irony lies within Trump threatening to “strongly regulate, or close [social media platforms] down” because to do so would be an “obvious” First Amendment violation. They conclude there is no legal basis for Trump to take such an action and for him to follow through with it would be the actual constitutional violation of free speech.
On the Right: Conservatives have rallied around the president, as they have long believed that social media platforms are working to silence their voices. John Daniel Davidson, at The Federalist, argues platforms like Twitter should be held to the same standards as traditional publishers if they choose to “editorialize” and fact-check users’ content. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act exempts companies like Twitter from certain compulsory standards that are followed by traditional publishers. This essentially protects the company from being sued if a user happens to share false or misleading content on their platform. However, Davidson suggests that “Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey [needs to] explain why his company should continue to enjoy Section 230 protections when it has clearly decided to act like a traditional publisher.” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) echoed these sentiments, claiming that “Fact-checking like this makes a mockery of social-media company’s claim to be a neutral ‘platform’ or ‘forum’ – rather than a publisher who’s subject to libel laws.”
Flag This: The resulting fallout of Trump’s decision could lead to greater conflicts and perhaps high-profile judicial cases involving free speech. That said, the immediate details of the situation reveal an interesting strategic dilemma for both Twitter and Trump. In many ways the two are dependent on one another. Like the Star Wars meme suggests, “Could Trump become the very thing he swore to destroy?” (A less dramatic case of “mutually assured destruction,” if you can accept the metaphor.) Whether you enjoy or abhor his tweets, Trump provides Twitter with a significant amount of cultural relevance (i.e. publicity). On the other hand, Trump’s usage of the platform is a vital way for him to speak directly to the electorate. Accordingly, if Trump continues to push against social media platforms, it could result in a repeal of Section 230 protections. Ironically, that could potentially be damaging to both him and Twitter.
🦅 US NEWS
Protests over death of George Floyd continue to roil Minneapolis, and beyond
Violent protests over the death of a black man in police custody rocked a Minneapolis neighborhood for a second straight night as angry crowds looted stores, set fires and left a path of damage that stretched for miles, the AP reports. “The mayor asked the governor to activate the National Guard. The protests that began late Wednesday and stretched into Thursday morning.
- Flag This: Protests also spread to other U.S. cities including Los Angeles and Memphis. What began as heated but peaceful protests soon turned into chaotic looting. Amid the violence, a man was found fatally shot Wednesday night near a pawn shop, possibly by the owner, authorities said.”
Millennials: America’s Worst Hit Generation
Millennials face particularly harsh economic damage from the coronavirus due to a compound hit from massive job losses and poor personal finances, according to a Federal Reserve analysis noted by CNBC.
- Unemployment: In a post titled, “The unluckiest generation in U.S. history,” The Washington Post’s Andrew Van Dam Millennial notes employment plunged by 16 percent in March and April this year, which is faster than either Gen X (12 percent) or the baby boomers (13 percent).
- Student Debt: Vox also points out that Americans between the age of 25-34 had $498 billion in debt at the end of 2019.
- Retirement Accounts: Yahoo News points out that, “Millennials are the most likely to raid retirement savings during pandemic.
- Delayed Milestones: All of this is causing one of America’s biggest generations to delay major life milestones like getting married, starting a family, and owning a home.
🌎 WORLD NEWS
China’s legislature approved on Thursday a proposal to impose a highly contentious national security law in Hong Kong, in an unprecedented move that critics say threatens fundamental political freedoms and civil liberties in the semi-autonomous territory, Nectar Gan writes for CNN. Reminder: “the law bans secession, subversion of state power, terrorism, foreign intervention and allows mainland China’s state security agencies to operate in the city. What’s next: Drafting the law will take about two months. It will then be implemented upon promulgation by the Hong Kong government, bypassing the city’s legislature via a rarely-enacted constitutional backdoor.” Here’s how it’s playing:
- GOP senator: U.S. cannot ‘sit by idly’ as China ‘systematically’ destroys Hong Kong’s autonomy, CNBC
- Hong Kong is the battleground in a US-China cold war, Financial Times
- China’s national-security bill for Hong Kong is an attempt to terrify, The Economist
- U.S. business to Trump: Go slowly on Hong Kong response, Yahoo News
Afghan forces killed in attack blamed on Taliban
At least 14 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in an attack officials blame on the Taliban, the first deadly assault since a three-day ceasefire ended at midnight on Tuesday, Al Jazeera reports. Why it matters: CNBC reports that, “the Trump administration is evaluating a range of options for the eventual withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan.”
- Flag This: On Wednesday Trump tweeted, “After 19 years, it is time for them to police their own Country. Bring our soldiers back home but closely watch what is going on and strike with a thunder like never before, if necessary!” Any violence always threatens to derail the White House’s goal of getting out of Afghanistan.
🗞️ BIZ, SPORTS, & TECH
Unemployment Claims and Amazon’s Aims
Another 2.1 million Americans filed for jobless claims last week. Nearly 41 million jobless claims have now been filed since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic. Silver lining: Amazon said that it is planning to retain roughly 70% of its US workforce that was brought on to meet the surge in demand during the pandemic.
Can Virtual Reality Help Sports Fans Experience Game Day In A Post COVID-19 World?
The sports events and live concerts of old, in which tens or hundreds of thousands of fans all crowded into a stadium, appear a long ways off. In searching for that stadium atmosphere experience, is it possible that virtual reality could fill the void? Beyond Sports, a virtual reality company based in the Netherlands, is closing in on debuting an app that would allow fans to design their own viewing experience down to allowing them to insert a virtual avatar of themselves into the virtual world. Keep reading.
DoorDash: Food Delivery and Web Development Company
DoorDash is launching a service to help restaurants build their own websites for online ordering. This will allow local establishments to bypass the marketing commissions that are normally collected by DoorDash. Why it matters: Commissions as high as 30% paid to delivery companies – including Grubhub Inc, Postmates, and Uber Eats – are a sore spot for some cash-strapped mom-and-pop restaurants.
📢 PRESENTED BY VINCERO
🗳️ FLAG POLLS
Results From Last Week’s Flag Poll
Should undocumented immigrants receive coronavirus relief funding? 97% said No, 3% said Yes. Full results and comments.
This Week’s Flag Poll
Last week, President Trump said he would overrule any governor who disagreed with him that places of worship should be allowed to reopen in accordance with new CDC guidelines. Do you think congregations should be allowed to reopen? Click here to vote.
On this day in 1848: Following approval of statehood by the territory’s citizens, Wisconsin enters the Union as the 30th state. Then, on this day in 1917, One of America’s best-loved presidents, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is born into a politically and socially prominent family in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Looking for something to do this weekend? One restaurant is thinking about using glass ‘lampshade’ bubble pods to keep diners safe (Mirror UK)
Tech billionaires are plotting sweeping, secret plans to boost Joe Biden: Inside the experiments, data wars, and partisan news sites that Silicon Valley thinks can help Biden catch up to Trump (Vox News)
Doug Liman To Direct Tom Cruise In Outer Space-Shot Movie Collaboration With Elon Musk & NASA (Deadline)
Over the past four years, there has been a steady decline in the number of peacekeepers deployed worldwide. Yet, COVID-19 has also created conditions that suggest the demand for peace operations may be even greater in the medium-term. Click here to keep reading.