Caitlin Bassett

Caitlin Bassett was a Policy Analyst and Communications Liaison for the Center for Science & Culture and the Center on Wealth & Poverty. Her main areas of focus are in Big Tech and its impact on human freedom, as well as homelessness and mental illness. In her free time, she enjoys delving into Lewis and Tolkien, cosmology, and running around historical sites on the East Coast. She graduated from Liberty University in 2017 with her Bachelor’s in Politics and Policy.

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Musk Offers Twitter $41 Billion, Exciting Free Speech Advocates

Will Musk succeed in his effort to "unlock" Twitter's free speech potential?
News has moved fast since it was revealed last week that Elon Musk purchased a 9.2% stake in Twitter. Since then, Musk was offered a seat on Twitter’s board, an offer he at first accepted, and then declined. Now, Musk has upped the ante by offering to buy Twitter for $41 billion. In his letter to the board, Musk referenced his desire to make Twitter “the platform for free speech around the globe,” and stated that he has the ability to “unlock” Twitter’s “extraordinary potential.” Here’s his full letter: Bret TaylorChairman of the Board, I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is…

Pinterest Bans Climate Change “Misinformation”

Pinterest might be the first company to implement such a strict ban, but what if it's not the last?
Last week, Pinterest banned climate change misinformation from its platform, becoming the first major social media company to do so outright. The policy raises free speech concerns. Since not all scientists agree on the nature of climate change, what causes it, and what the solutions are, how is the issue to be discussed if alternate points of view are banned from public platforms? Pinterest is an image-sharing social media site, where users share ideas that they can “pin” to their own boards on everything from recipes to interior design to fashion. On April 6, Pinterest announced their new climate misinformation policy, aimed at “remov[ing] content that may harm the public’s well-being, safety or trust.” As of the policy announcement, any…

Dorsey Talks Decentralization and Musk Buys Twitter Share

Will this be the upset many free speech advocates hope it could be?
Last week, I wrote about the buzz around internet decentralization, especially as there appears to be talk at Twitter of moving in such a direction. The buzz continues, this time with vocal support from former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, coinciding with a bold financial move from Elon Musk. On April 2, Dorsey reminisced on Twitter about the early, decentralized days of the Internet, and said that centralization “really damaged the internet. I realize I’m partially to blame, and regret it.” The problems of social media platforms have been made clear in the past few years, specifically when it comes to data privacy and how to handle (or even define) harmful content while also respecting free speech. But there isn’t as much…

Could Decentralization Fix Twitter’s Censorship Problems?

Decentralization is not an automatic guarantee of internet freedom, but it may be a good first step
Twitter is considering decentralization according to a recent report from The New York Times. But what does decentralization mean, and how would it impact our experience with social media? Is this a solution to all the problems around censorship standards that Big Tech companies have faced in recent years? According to The New York Times, Twitter is following the early vision of a former employee named Blaine Cook by “funding an independent effort to build a so-called open protocol for social media. It is also weaving cryptocurrency into its app, and opening up to developers who want to build custom features for Twitter.” Kate Conger reports: Some skeptics believe Twitter is jumping on the web3 bandwagon, joining a trendy movement in tech to shift many…

Generous Donation Gone to Waste on Bad Homelessness Policy

Seattle civic and business leaders have announced a $10 million collaborative effort to tackle the downtown chronic homelessness problem. “It’s the beginning of some good news,” Mayor Bruce Harrell declared when they announced the financial donation.

Most Cities’ Responses To Homelessness Actually Enable Even More Homelessness

Housing First fails because it doesn’t address root causes of homelessness: unaddressed mental illness and substance use disorders.
If policymakers want to be serious about truly alleviating the suffering of those experiencing homelessness and keeping their streets safe, they need to spend their money wisely on treatment-and-recovery approaches.

Most Cities’ Responses To Homelessness Actually Enable Even More Homelessness

$837,000. That’s how much one single unit to house one homeless person is costing taxpayers in Los Angeles.  https://twitter.com/KarenBassLA/status/1497698596719714304?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1497698596719714304%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fthefederalist.com%2F2022%2F03%2F18%2Fmost-cities-responses-to-homelessness-actually-enable-even-more-homelessness%2F The $837,000 units being built in L.A. are part of a $1.2 billion “Housing First” program to build “affordable” housing. But the city can’t build fast enough to keep up. Despite vast amounts of money and record-level housing placements, the city’s homeless population keeps growing. This sad situation is another indication that good money

Meta Suspends Hate Speech Policy in Countries Near Russia

Hate speech and death threats against Russian and Belarusian political leaders and their militaries are temporarily allowed in twelve Eastern European countries
In a dramatic change of policy, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) will temporarily allow users of Facebook and Instagram in twelve countries to post hate speech and death threats directed toward Russian and Belarusian military personnel and political leaders within the context of the conflict in Ukraine. The change was first reported by Reuters on Thursday morning. A Meta spokesperson told Reuters, “As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.” Calls for violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko are…

YouTube Suspends News Show for Reporting on Misinformation

The show's host has accused YouTube of failing to "distinguish between misinformation and reporting"
Last week, YouTube suspended a popular daily news show from The Hill for including in its reporting footage of former President Donald Trump repeating the claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him, a claim that violates YouTube’s policies on misinformation. The co-hosts of the show have criticized the suspension, arguing that the policy, as enforced, is a threat to journalism on YouTube. One of the co-hosts posted about it on Twitter: Robby Soave and Ryan Grim co-host Rising, a daily morning news show for The Hill, one of the country’s leading political newspapers. Last week, they discovered that their channel had been temporarily suspended based on two videos that the show posted that had violated YouTube’s policies. The…

Former Homelessness Czar Sees Hope for the Future

I sat down with Dr. Robert Marbut, Jr., a renowned national consultant and the homelessness czar under former President Trump, to discuss why he is optimistic about the future of addressing homelessness with robust solutions.

In State of the Union, Biden Vows to Curb Social Media Harms

Biden addressed the mental health harms of social media use on children and teens
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden referred to the harms of social media in his State of the Union address, announcing policy proposals to curb those harms. In response, however, some have been critical of the president’s remarks, accusing him of ignoring social media’s deeper dangers. Over an hour into his speech, President Biden turned to mental health and the emotional toll the pandemic has had, especially on children. Then he turned to the emotional health toll exacted by social media, long before the first COVID-19 lockdowns. “Children were also struggling before the pandemic – bullying, violence, trauma, and the harms of social media,” he said. “It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, demand tech companies stop…

Trump Releases Truth Social, Users Run Into Errors

The jury is out on whether this will stand as a true rival to Twitter
Last week, former President Trump unveiled his new social media app: Truth Social, a free-speech alternative to Twitter. It immediately became the number one free app on Apple’s App Store and boasted half a million users within its first forty-eight hours. But hiccups soon followed, including error messages and long wait times for access to the platform. The app went live on February 21, which was (perhaps not coincidentally) President’s Day. But those who signed up to join were automatically placed on a waitlist, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. When a Post reporter tried to sign up for a Truth social account on Tuesday morning, he was told that he was number 387,392 on a waitlist. “We love you, and you’re…

IRS Backs Off on Facial Recognition Demand

Starting this summer, the IRS would have required all online users to submit a facial recognition scan. Now, they've changed their mind
The IRS is abandoning a new security program that would have required all online users to submit facial recognition scans in order to access its online services. Last November, the IRS announced that in summer 2022, it would begin requiring all online patrons to verify their accounts via facial recognition. The program was to be operated by ID.me, a private, third-party partner of the IRS. ID.me also contracts with a select few other federal entities, as well as 27 U.S. states. Facial recognition technology is a controversial new form of security. It’s been widely embraced by the Chinese Communist Party in its effort to maintain social control over a large population, and it has begun to creep into some jurisdictions in Western…

Fact Checkers Stifle Story on Government-Funded Crack Pipes

When official sources contradict each other, who has the authority to decide what is misinformation and what is not?
A Facebook fact-checking group censored a report released this week that the Biden Administration is providing grants that would fund the distribution of crack pipes to the addicted, labeling it as containing “partly false information” and burying any posts containing the report in users’ news feeds. The Washington Free Beacon reported on Monday that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is operating a $30 million grant program for harm reduction, a strategy to combat drug addiction that seeks “to reduce the negative personal and public health impacts of behavior associated with alcohol and other substance use.” Perhaps the best known harm reduction tactic has been the exchange or distribution of clean needles to the addicted. Now, it would…

Overwhelmed by Graffiti, Seattle Citizens Step In To Help

Seattle is so overwhelmed by graffiti that it can take the city's five-member task force several weeks to respond to a report of graffiti on public property. Some Seattle citizens have begun spending their own time and money to help clean up their neighborhoods.

Overwhelmed by Graffiti, Seattle Citizens Step In To Help

Seattle is so overwhelmed by graffiti that it can take the city's five-member task force several weeks to respond to a report of graffiti on public property. Some Seattle citizens have begun spending their own time and money to help clean up their neighborhoods.

How Housing First Fails the Mentally Ill

The closing of mental institutions in the 20th century was meant to create better living conditions for the mentally ill. But it appears twenty-first century alternatives still regularly neglect the schizophrenic, bipolar, and other seriously ill members of the community.

How Housing First Fails the Mentally Ill

The closing of mental institutions in the 20th century was meant to create better living conditions for the mentally ill. But it appears twenty-first century alternatives still regularly neglect the schizophrenic, bipolar, and other seriously ill members of the community.

This Holiday Season, Remember the Homeless

A common experience among the homeless is a feeling of invisibility. No one looks at them or acknowledges their presence. Often, it's because we don't know how to help. Here are two simple ways you can help the homeless person you are passing on the street this holiday season.

This Holiday Season, Remember the Homeless

A common experience among the homeless is a feeling of invisibility. No one looks at them or acknowledges their presence. Often, it's because we don't know how to help. Here are two simple ways you can help the homeless person you are passing on the street this holiday season.

It’s Not About How Much You Spend, It’s About HOW You Spend It

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee just announced plans to spend an additional $800 million on homelessness in 2022, on top of the $2 billion approved by the State Legislature earlier this year to help alleviate homelessness. Money is needed to fix homelessness, but it must be money spent wisely.

It’s Not About How Much You Spend, It’s About HOW You Spend It

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee just announced plans to spend an additional $800 million on homelessness in 2022, on top of the $2 billion approved by the State Legislature earlier this year to help alleviate homelessness. Money is needed to fix homelessness, but it must be money spent wisely.