Sean Hannity posted an article on his website Monday that blows wide open the scandal of the decade. And it might even have been interesting except for one problem: It’s not this decade. The headline screams “TWITTER EXPOSED: Social Media Giant SPIES on Users’ ‘Private Sex Messages.'” Of course the video fails to prove anything of the sort. Apparently Hannity didn’t know that Twitter collects and analyzes user data, including tweets and direct messages, and compiles profiles that can be marketed to advertisers. This is something that all social media sites and web enterprises do, including Hannity’s employer, Fox News. And they’ve been doing it for years.
Luckily, Hannity has investigative slimeball James O’Keefe to bring him up date. O’Keefe just published his latest “undercover” video (posted below). It’s likely to have been edited to make its participants look bad because that’s the O’Keefe brand. Hannity, however, was clearly impressed by this pitiful waste of time. He featured O’Keefe’s video on his website with an introduction that described it as…
“…a bombshell video outlining social media giant Twitter’s shady policy of spying on users private communications, including ‘sex messages’ exchanged between individuals using the platform.”
Hannity has an awfully low standard for what constitutes a bombshell. This is more of a dud by conventional standards. Although there is actually a germ of a significant issue here that deserves some attention. How media organizations store and use private data is indeed a concern. That’s why legitimate privacy advocates have been concerned about it for years. O’Keefe thinks he discovered something new that’s been concealed from the public. Never mind that it’s a well known problem and people more serious and respectable than him are working on it. But even his lame pseudo-discovery is presented in an entirely asinine way.
Most of this video contains clips of secretly recorded conversations with allegedly former and current Twitter employees. It’s packaged in a way that implies some covert operation has been unveiled. But the only thing these supposed plotters reveal is that Twitter has computer algorithms (not people) that read your tweets to determine how best to exploit the ad value of their users. OMG! What a scoop. There might even be a few cave dwellers that didn’t know about this twenty years ago. But even that’s unlikely. Only pathetic dorks like Hannity and O’Keefe seem to still be in the dark.
Speaking of dorks, there is an inordinate amount of time spent musing about dick pics in the nine and a half minute video. It’s not clear whether that’s because O’Keefe is obsessed with penises, or if he is worried that Twitter might have uncovered some of his own perverse activity. The same could be said for Hannity. Either way, they can’t seem to let the subject go. You might think that they would be concerned about some political bias or free speech issue, but no. It’s all junk talk.
Despite their insinuations about nefarious spying by pervy Twitter ops, the video actually undoes its own premise. It shows one employee saying explicitly that no one at Twitter accesses private data except when it’s reported as a violation by a user. That destroys the whole phony narrative they were trying to contrive. So not only is this video exposing something most people already know, it’s even failing to tell that boring story coherently.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.