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In a recent interview with The New York Times, former Vice President of the United States and Democratic Party presidential primary candidate Joe Biden called Silicon Valley leaders “little creeps,” who made video games “to teach you how to kill people.”
The interview (conducted by Deputy Editor Kathleen Kingsbury and writer at large Charlie Warzel) eventually turned to the subject of technology and the internet.
During the September 2019 Trump-Ukraine scandal, a whistleblower claimed President Donald Trump had attempted to solicit the help of the Ukrainian government, to find evidence that Joe Biden had allegedly attempted to blackmail Ukrainian officials into clearing his son- Hunter Biden- of any wrongdoing in the Burisma Holdings investigations.
After the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, Ukrainian oligarch and former politician Mykola Zlochevsky was accused of money laundering, along with his company Burisma Holdings. Hunter Biden had served on the board of Burisma Holdings until April 2019.
In October 2019, the Trump campaign took an advert on Facebook, claiming Joe Biden had paid $1 billion to Ukrainian officials fire the prosecutor investigating Burisma Holdings. When Biden’s campaign attempted to have the advert taken down, Facebook denied them. A second Facebook advert by an independent political party was also appealed against.
Warzel asked in the interview “dealing with Facebook and their power, did that change the way that you see the power of tech platforms right now?” Biden stated he had “never been a fan” of Facebook or its founder and CEO Mark Zukerberg, who Biden stated was “a real problem.”
He elaborated further, stating his distrust in Facebook’s “concentration of power,” lack of privacy, and how so-called fake news can spread easily on the platform.
Biden also proposed revoking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”)
“He knows better. And you know, from my perspective, I’ve been in the view that not only should we be worrying about the concentration of power, we should be worried about the lack of privacy and them being exempt, which you’re not exempt. [The Times] can’t write something you know to be false and be exempt from being sued. But he can. The idea that it’s a tech company is that Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms.”
Despite Warzel explaining it was a “pretty foundational laws of the modern internet,” Biden was adamant.
“It should be revoked because it is not merely an internet company. It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false, and we should be setting standards not unlike the Europeans are doing relative to privacy. You guys still have editors. I’m sitting with them. Not a joke. There is no editorial impact at all on Facebook. None. None whatsoever. It’s irresponsible. It’s totally irresponsible.”
When asked what punishments should befall Zuckerberg if Facebook were to be found guilty of such harm, Biden proposed he and Facebook should suffer civil liabilities, and then further investigated for collusiom. He then implied that Russian bots had been defaming his campaign.
“He should be submitted to civil liability and his company to civil liability, just like you would be here at The New York Times. Whether he engaged in something and amounted to collusion that in fact caused harm that would in fact be equal to a criminal offense, that’s a different issue. That’s possible. That’s possible it could happen. Zuckerberg finally took down those ads that Russia was running. All those bots about me. They’re no longer being run.
[…] He was getting paid a lot of money to put them up. I learned three things. Number one, Putin doesn’t want me to be president. Number two, Kim Jong-un thinks I should be beaten to death like a rabid dog and three, this president of the United States is spending millions of dollars to try to keep me from being the nominee. I wonder why.”
When discussing several mergers in Silicon Valley during the Obama administration, Biden explained how he was not happy those mergers occurred, but how he “kept the disagreements I had with the president just that.” He then discussed one particular meeting “Silicon Valley leaders” that gave him a very negative impression of them.
Biden: “And you may recall, the criticism I got for meeting with the leaders in Silicon Valley, when I was trying to work out an agreement dealing with them protecting intellectual property for artists in the United States of America. And at one point, one of the little creeps sitting around that table, who was a multi- — close to a billionaire — who told me he was an artist because he was able to come up with games to teach you how to kill people, you know the ——”
Warzel: “Like video games.”
Biden: “Yeah, video games. And I was lectured by one of the senior leaders there that by saying if I insisted on what Leahy’d put together and we were, I thought we were going to fully support, that they would blow up the network, figuratively speaking. Have everybody contact. They get out and go out and contact the switchboard, just blow it up.
And then one of these righteous people said to me that, you know, “We are the economic engine of America. We are the ones.” And fortunately I had done a little homework before I went and I said, you know, I find it fascinating. As I added up the seven outfits, everyone’s there but Microsoft. I said, you have fewer people on your payroll than all the losses that General Motors just faced in the last quarter, of employees. So don’t lecture me about how you’ve created all this employment.”
Biden continued, explaining how those leaders had “overwhelming arrogance.” Biden also explained how with every industrial revolution, it took “somewhere between six years and a generation for a government to come in and level the playing field again. […] And it’s a responsibility of government to make sure it is not abused.”
Biden also kept his belief that Zuckerberg willingly knew he had allegedly assisted the Russians in 2016 US election alleged meddling.
Biden: “For example, the idea that he cooperates with knowing that Russia was engaged in dealing with using the internet, I mean using their platform, to try to undermine American elections. That’s close to criminal.”
Warzel: “I think he would argue that he didn’t know about that at the time and ——”
Biden: “He’d argue it and I don’t believe him for a second.”
Warzel: “You don’t believe that?”
Biden: “No, I don’t. Nor do you, in your heart. [LAUGHS]”
Biden also briefly revealed that his campaign had not gone to Silicon Valley to raise campaign funds, and further discussed his fears of children being deceived by fake information on the Internet.
Biden has come under fire in recent months, with both the upcoming US election, and due to his speeches and public appearances. These are often marred by choppy, nonsensical statements, and rambling tangents such as his infamously mocked “leg-hair” story.
It should be noted in March 2019, Oxford University released a “definitive” study, declaring “no link” between violent video games, and violent tendencies in teenagers. The report aligns with the findings of several other studies already conducted before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].