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Tech Tuesday: AOC on QAnon, Markey vs. Kennedy, and TikTok suing Trump

Here's what you may have missed in tech and politics this week.

Aug 25, 2020, 2:10 pm*

Tech

 

Andrew Wyrich

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Welcome to our "Tech Tuesdays" edition of the Internet Insider, where we'll be diving into the best (and worst) technology and politics news online.

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First, some recent, key headlines:

But a lot more has happened, so let's take a look.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Dimitri Rodriguez/Flickr (CC-BY)
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We asked AOC for her thoughts on QAnon

Since QAnon candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene won the Republican primary in Georgia’s deep-red 14th district, raising a real possibility a believer will be seated in Congress, the conspiracy theory has become a central part of political discourse.

Democrats have used Greene’s successful candidacy as proof that the GOP has succumbed to madness. Asked about the conspiracy theory on Saturday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) sought to look beyond the bizarreness of the theory positing Democrats are Satan-worshipping pedophiles to examine the root cause of the new reality in which a massive segment of Republican voters are following what’s essentially a cult.

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Ocasio-Cortez told the Daily Dot, “there’s so much you can say about it on its face. Obviously, these candidates getting elected is clearly very concerning to the party, it’s concerning to members, I’ve heard it’s concerning for Republican donors.”

She added, “but I actually think, in a way, outside the immediate transactional politics of the situation, it’s important to understand the root causes as to why something like this is taking off so much. And to me, it’s really symptomatic of a lot of the long-standing, deep issues we’ve been having. In particular, the Republican party has been having.”

Asked about the longstanding issues she sees as responsible for making a receptive atmosphere for QAnon, Ocasio-Cortez said, “I mean, the allowance of misinformation and disinformation to be widespread and frankly the Republican encouragement of that has now kind of created this ecosystem that they no longer feel they have control of.”

She listed other deep-standing issues as “the fundamental lack of trust in institutions, lack of trust in money and power that creates this very fertile ground for conspiracy theories to grow.” She added: “I think that we see how the president is weaponizing it. It’s very clear that he has identified this as an asset to him. And so I think that also puts Republicans even more in a very, very deep bind. Because what do they do?”

—Alex Thomas, contributing writer

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Ed Markey Joe Kennedy Campaign Online Supporters
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Joe Kennedy's team complains to Markey about supporters—including a dinosaur saying 'F*ck Joe Kennedy'

The race between Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) for the Massachusetts Senate primary is heating up, but Kennedy's team has taken issue with some of the posts made by the incumbent senator's suddenly huge swath of online supporters.  

The Kennedy campaign sent a letter to Markey's campaign—and the media—highlighting a number of tweets made in support of Markey. Some of the tweets were offensive, and Kennedy's campaign wants Markey to denounce them. 

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But Kennedy's team noted one meme in particular in the email caused even more mockery.

Mixed in with some of the more vitriolic tweets was a retweet from "Ed Markey Reply Guys," which is unaffiliated with Markey, from a "Dinosaurs Saying Fuck" account. The account tweets pictures of dinosaurs, captioning them with "fuck." 

Kennedy's team highlighting that "Ed Markey Reply Guys" retweeting a picture of a cartoon dinosaur saying "Fuck Joe Kennedy" was too much for many people online, who mercilessly mocked the congressman's team for including it in the email. 

Here's why it matters: Markey has amassed a large amount of support online—including on TikTok and Twitter. Kennedy has repeatedly tried to cast that support in a bad light, bringing it up on two occasions that one supporter of Markey tweeted that "bullying works." Markey's supporters tweeted at Broadway stars to drop out of a fundraiser for Kennedy, which was ultimately canceled. More recently, the Dropkick Murphys were dragged online for having an event with Kennedy. Markey has said that he doesn't want any of his supporters "to be in engaging in any ... negative conduct" similar to the more vitriolic tweets the Kennedy campaign noted in its email. 

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—Andrew Wyrich, deputy tech editor


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TikTok sues Trump, says his ban violated due process

TikTok made goods on its threat to sue the government over President Donald Trump’s order banning it from the U.S.

The video-sharing platform argues that the order denies it due process guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment. It also claims that the order is “not rooted in bona fide national security concerns.”

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"The Executive Order issued by the Administration on August 6, 2020, has the potential to strip the rights of that community without any evidence to justify such an extreme action, and without any due process," TikTok wrote in a blog post.

Some background: President Donald Trump first threatened to ban TikTok last month on the basis that the company shares data with China, claiming this presents a national security threat. On Aug. 6, Trump issued an executive order to this effect.

Here's why it matters: The executive order from Trump essentially forces TikTok to sell its U.S. operations or risk being banned in the country. A few major players have come up as possible suitors including Oracle, Twitter, and Microsoft, which is considered the front-runner. 

—Claire Goforth, contributing writer


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*First Published: Aug 25, 2020, 2:02 pm