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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Homelessness: A Profitable Business

James A. Brown III has turned sheltering the homeless into a lucrative business for himself, reaping more than $1 million a year in profits. By starting and managing his own security guard company, catering company, and management company — all of which service his shelters.

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 a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.However,

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 content that may harm the public’s well-being, safety or trust.” As of the policy announcement, any content that

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 days of usenet, irc, the web…even email (w PGP)…were amazing. centralizing discovery and identity into corporations really damaged the internet.I realize I'm partially to blame, and regret it.— jack⚡️ (@jack) April 2, 2022 The problems of social media

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

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.

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

$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

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.

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

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.

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: Rising isn't on YouTube this week, because the platform has decided that straight coverage of the news violates its misinformation policy. I think this policy is completely insane, and a threat to all journalism on YouTube. Take a look.https://t.co/7UZ5k3rBYP— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) March 4, 2022 Robby Soave and Ryan

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 not just another number to us,” a message on the

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 countries. But in the West, the resistance

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

Zuckerberg’s New Meta Pummeled by Stock Market

Meta (Facebook reimagined) faces a gauntlet of challenges only months after Zuckerberg announced his new "metaverse" initiative
Last October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be undergoing a major facelift to become Meta. The Facebook platform we all know and love would remain as is, but Meta would become Facebook’s parent company with a primary focus of developing the “metaverse,” an immersive online experience that Zuckerberg called “the next frontier” of the internet. But Meta is off to a rough start. Facebook’s parent company shed more than $230 billion in market value Thursday, a one-day loss that is the biggest ever for a U.S. company and increases pressure on a stock market long powered by technology shares….The Facebook parent company surprised investors with a deeper-than-expected decline in profit and a downbeat outlook. The company said

New York Senate Tries To Shut Down Misinformation on Social Media

The introduction of the bill raises concerns about government's intrusion into the freedom of speech online
In December, a bill was presented in the New York State Senate that would attempt to hold social media companies responsible for their role in circulating incitements to violence, incitements to self-harm, and misinformation.  Introduced by Democratic/Working Families Party Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, the legislation would empower the state’s Attorney General to bring an action against any social media company that allows for the circulation of content that incites violence or that “includes a false statement of fact or fraudulent medical theory…”. No person, by conduct either unlawful in itself or unreasonable under all the circumstances, shall knowingly or recklessly create, maintain or contribute to a condition in New York state that