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Project Veritas: Facebook official argues for government breaking up social media giant

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The investigative journalism group Project Veritas on Monday published an exposé and a highly edited undercover video it obtained of Facebook Global Planning Lead Benny Thomas arguing for the government to break up the social media giant, with him saying, “No king in the history of the world has been the ruler of two billion people, but Mark Zuckerberg is — and he’s 36.”

In the guerrilla journalism group’s video, which contains many jump cuts and visual effects, Thomas can be heard saying: “I would break up Facebook, which means I would make less money probably — but I don’t care. Like that’s what needs to be done. Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Oculus, WhatsApp — they all need to be separate companies. It’s too much power when they’re all one together.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to this reporter’s request for comment.

MORE ON PROJECT VERITAS: Project Veritas ‘permanently suspended’ from Twitter, says company spokesperson

“No king in the history of the world has been the ruler of two billion people, but Mark Zuckerberg is — and he’s 36,” Thomas said when talking about the control that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg exerts over the company. “That’s too much for a 36-year-old. You should not have power over two billion people. I just think that’s wrong.”

“Most people don’t understand these things and most people don’t think about them,” Thomas also said, “which is why a lot of s— goes down because a lot of people aren’t paying attention.”

https://twitter.com/JamesOKeefeIII/status/1371491383018618890

Going on to talk about the topic of algorithmic bias, Thomas argued, “There’s always built-in [algorithmic] bias…Guess what? Human beings wrote that code.”

MORE ON FACEBOOK: Facebook’s ‘supreme court’ is looking to expand its powers

“We’re re-looking at the algorithms, but it’s such a massive and complicated thing that it takes time to fix it,” he added. “Honestly, I think we need to bite the bullet and do it quicker, but you lose a lot of money as well if you do that.”

On top of these things, Thomas expressed that he thinks Facebook’s massive voter registration effort played a role in ensuring President Joe Biden‘s 2020 presidential election victory.

“One of the things I worked on, which made me happy, was a voter registration drive,” he explained. “These are the kinds of things — this is the good side of Facebook. This is the kind of thing that you can only do with a company that has the sheer scale and reach of Facebook. We set ourselves a goal of registering four million new people and we went over that target, we did 4.5 [million]”.

Off camera, the Project Veritas journalist exclaimed, “Wow. Registering 4.5 million voters.”

“It’s a lot,” Thomas then replied.

It should be noted that Facebook previously disclosed this number from their 2020 voter registration drive. Snapchat, which is not owned by Facebook, says that it helped over 1 million register to vote for the high-turnout election.

The journalist then brought up his own thoughts on Biden, saying, “Yeah. I’m pretty sure he [Biden] won that way,” and asked: “What do you think?”

“Exactly, I think so too,” Thomas replied.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Remote Learning Lowered Test Scores in Every State; Minority Students Hit the Worst

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Remote Learning

A paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) shows remote learning has had a negative impact on students’ test scores in every state. Not only were students across the country affected, minority students were impacted the most.

According to the publication, remote learning led to declines in test scores for English and math, when compared to scores of students who went to schools with more in-person learning. “Our research shows that test score losses are significantly larger in districts with less in-person learning,” said Emily Oster, professor of economics at Brown University.

“This suggests, yes, that virtual learning was – and is – less effective than in-person learning, at least as measured by school-based testing” added Oster. “Passing rates in math declined by 14.2 percentage points on average; we estimate this decline was 10.1 percentage points smaller for districts fully in-person,” the study found.

The research combined “district-level schooling mode data from the 2020-21 school year,” “district-level test score data from 2015 to 2021” and “demographic data from the NCES,” according to the study.

Data was collected from students in third to eighth grades in 12 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Score declines showed variations by state, as well. Virginia “which had the most complete virtual learning time, along with Colorado, saw an almost 32% drop on math test scores in the 2020-21 school year when compared to the 2018-19 school year” reports Tampa Free Press.

Wyoming, however, “which had the most in-person learning, along with Florida, saw just a 2.3% drop in English, the study found.”

“Changes in English Language Arts (ELA) were smaller than math scores overall, but drops in scores were greater in districts with larger black and Hispanic populations and students eligible for free and reduced lunch prices” reports Tampa Free Press.

“Districts that have a larger share of black and Hispanic students and less in-person schooling also saw a greater decline in ELA test scores than those with more in-person schooling. “

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