Instacart Attacked Georgia’s Voter ID Law But Requires Its Own Shoppers To Provide ID

Two hundred companies signed off on a letter last week to condemn the new Georgia election bill, which notably requires identification for voter absentee ballots. Among the signees was the founder and CEO of food-delivery service Instacart, Apoorva Mehta.

“We believe every American should have a voice in our democracy and that voting should be safe and accessible to all voters,” the statement said. “There are hundreds of bills threatening to make voting more difficult in dozens of states nationwide. We call on elected leaders in every state capitol and in Congress to work across the aisle and ensure that every eligible American has the freedom to easily cast their ballot and participate fully in our democracy.”

While Instacart joined the group of virtue-signaling executives, the company neglects that it mandates all shoppers who deliver groceries to demonstrate photo and facial identification to participate in the gig economy.

According to the company’s website, “the first thing you’ll need to have on-hand” to become an Instacart shopper is “the details of your driver’s license.” Furthermore, applicants must provide their social security number information to get to the next step of inputting their bank information. Additionally, a shopper must undergo a background check that will take up to 10 business days to be cleared to be a contractor. Even after providing this information, a shopper must center their face on the application and be confirmed to shop on a daily or weekly basis.

Nevertheless, Instacart has seemingly taken issue with a bill that both mandates voter ID for absentee ballots and institutes an 11-day deadline for requesting an absentee before election day. Instacart has placed itself on the side that prefers an “election season,” which Democrats have sought.

The hypocrisy here is only worsened by the fact that the company wishes to make shoppers wait up to 10 days to begin working, while implying in its condemnation of the bill that 11 days is far too short for a contractor to have to request an absentee ballot. Why should there be any window, any background check, or any mandate for its employees to prove ID if Instacart takes issue with a bill to do exactly what it is doing (for something far less consequential)?

In truth, one should need to demonstrate ID to both work at Instacart and vote in an election, but these companies are too beholden to left-wing activists, and thus have lost any shred of credibility to comment on the issues of the day.

Instacart did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Federalist.

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Rubio Rebukes ‘Woke Corporate Hypocrites’ At Delta For Ignoring Uyghur Genocide While Decrying Georgia Election Law

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio exposed Delta Air Lines as being full of “woke corporate hypocrites” after CEO Ed Bastian condemned Georgia’s newest election law while still doing business with communist China despite its genocide targeting the Uyghur Muslims.

“Dear @Delta: You are business partners with the Communist Party of #China. When can we expect your letter saying that their ongoing genocide in #Xinjiang is ‘unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values’??? #WokeCorporateHypocrites,” Rubio said on Twitter. 

The senator also posted a video reinforcing his point that Delta regularly does business with “the same Chinese Communist Party that is committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims inside of China” but has yet to send a letter saying that the Uyghur genocide is unacceptable and “does not reflect the values of Delta Airlines.”

“Of course, they’re not going to send that letter, nor is Coca-Cola, nor are any of these other corporations that are out there, proving to the world how woke they are because they are woke corporate hypocrites,” Rubio explained. “They make billions of dollars in a country that doesn’t even have elections. They make billions of dollars working with a country that has no respect for anyone or anything, and they don’t say a word about it. But in America, they’re prepared to boycott a state and condemn them publicly to show and prove how woke they are.”

Rubio’s rant follows the release of a memo from Bastian to Delta employees condemning the Georgia law as “unacceptable” and “based on a lie” that “does not match Delta’s values.” Bastian’s claims sparked a response from Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who said the statement “stands in stark contrast” to what was said in previous discussions.

“Today’s statement by Delta CEO Ed Bastian stands in stark contrast to our conversations with the company, ignores the content of the new law, and unfortunately continues to spread the same false attacks being repeated by partisan activists,” Kemp said.

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It’s Time For Conservatives To Take On Big Tech Tyrants. Here’s How

In a passage in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, a character named Mike is asked how he went bankrupt. “Gradually,” he replies. “Then all at once.”

Such a framing could also describe the raw power of Big Tech, which has been evolving over the last two decades into what can accurately be described as an oligopoly (when a market is dominated entirely by a handful of firms). That power was fully unleashed last month. After playing footsie for the last decade with their massive market and narrative control over America, Big Tech finally shed any pretext of restraint or deference to the norms of speech, diversity of viewpoints, or pluralism.

First, they first banned the president of the United States from every conceivable platform. Then they came for everyone else – even their conservative competitors.

While the platforms hide behind the excuse of Trump, it’s clear these bans are not solely about him. After all, Trump has left office. Rather, it is a sincere effort by Big Tech and woke corporations to punish, de-platform, delegitimize, marginalize, and silence the millions of Americans who hold viewpoints and beliefs that differ from the alliance of corporate media, the establishment Democratic party, and the lords of Silicon Valley.

The stated pretext of banning content and actors who “incite violence” is a laughable and transparently fake excuse from platforms where violent threats and content circulate daily. Facebook can ban #stopthesteal from trending, but somehow cannot prevent ISIS from disseminating its recruitment propaganda, or the government of Myanmar from using its services to incite a genocide (following a successful military coup there earlier this week, state-run MRTV was posting propaganda to its Facebook page). Images of child sexual abuse circulate daily, but the platforms fight efforts to make them more responsible for it, laying the blame on law enforcement.

Moreover, the definition of what incites violence is left helpfully vague enough to cover whatever these companies happen disagree with. Various bans in the last few weeks have extended to outlets selling patriotic clothing and the Facebook page of former Rep. Ron Paul, largely without explanation. (Facebook later claimed they banned Paul’s page “in error.”)

Big Tech Is Destroying the Public Square

This is hegemonic, corporate power, exercised at a scale that renders it capable of de-platforming ordinary Americans from consequential avenues of public life and commerce. Facebook, Twitter, and Google are speech platforms with outsized control over our discourse, deciding who gets to speak and what information deserves to be heard.

They’re also retail platforms. Together with Amazon, these companies influence what businesses can access mainstream markets, and by any reasonable definition constitute a digital oligopoly.

This market muscle was on display recently when Apple, Google, and Amazon acted in concert to take out Parler, the mainstream alternative to Twitter. Within hours of one another, Apple and Google removed Parler from their app stores, and Amazon’s cloud hosting arm, Amazon Web Service, booted the company, rendering its web component useless as well.

The excuse used was the violent threats proliferating on Parler, and allegations that the platform was used to “plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal activities in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.” However, reporting from the Washington Post and other outlets finds that Facebook, its photo sharing app Instagram, and Twitter also played a role in organizing protest activities that day.

Given that those platforms have a much larger and influential reach than Parler, it follows that those apps should also be banned. But they haven’t, because this isn’t really about preventing purportedly violent content or illegal activities online. It’s a pretext for silencing entire groups of people for wrongthink – and conveniently eliminating a market competitor in the process.

This isn’t just an effort by the Big Tech platforms, although they have the most muscle to implement it. In a dramatic example of the power corporate America has to cut people off from the day-to-day infrastructure of society, former President Trump has been cut off from two of his banks. Stripe, the credit card processing app, will no longer transact with his campaign. Shopify will no longer sell the campaign’s wares. Salesforce will no longer send emails for the Trump campaign or the Republican National Committee.

The email service MailChimp is already banning certain users, while Mozilla, the nonprofit behind the Firefox browser, has said “bad actors” need “more than de-platforming.” As conservatives flock to encrypted chat apps like Signal and Telegram, left-wing nonprofits are already chomping at the bit to ban them, too.

When Big Tech’s narrative control colludes with corporate market control, it is almost unstoppable. The Federalist got a taste of it last year when NBC News worked with Google to try and take down the site for minor violations of Google’s ad policies in the site’s comments section.

The Federalist is a major website with millions of views and thus wields power to engage such an attack. Plenty of outlets are not. And if these companies are bold enough to collectively go after major publications and the president of the United States, they won’t even blink before going after you, your business, and your access to the marketplace.

They’ll also have help from Democrats, who very much realize that Big Tech is on their side. Michelle Obama decided to raise her concerns about Trump’s rhetoric not by going to Congress, not by making an appeal to the president or to the public, but by asking Big Tech to ban him. Same with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.).

Staff for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. publicly appealed to Twitter to stop circulation of a tweet Ocasio-Cortez had sent in December, saying “the whole point of protesting is to make ppl uncomfortable.” The tweet was naturally coming back to bite her during the riots at the Capitol, and her staff clearly believed Twitter would memory-hole it for them

At one time, the left would have been concerned about the government and business acting in concern to silence dissent. Now, because it favors them, they cheer it.

A Time for Choosing on the Right

In some respects, the Big Tech crackdown is a good thing for the right because it is remarkably clarifying. No more do we need to speculate about the extent of Big Tech’s market power and what they can and will do with it. It is clear that they are corporate hegemons who no longer feel restraint or accountability.

No longer do we need to suffer the libertarian retort of “build your own” to every concern raised about Big Tech. That argument evaporated as soon as Apple, Amazon, and Google joined forces to knee-cap Parler, cutting it off from the oxygen supply a growing small business needs to access a mainstream audience.

You can still build your own – but the minute you become competitive, they will come for you. And you will be crushed, relegated to a dusty, marginalized corner of the internet (but only if you’ve managed to build your own cloud hosting service first.)

The pressing question for the right is where we go from here. There is legitimate frustration in the GOP base that their lawmakers – in the Senate, in particular – wasted four years chest-thumping and peacocking at hearings while taking no substantive action on the Senate floor. GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the last remaining avenue for action off the table when he ignored President Trump’s pleas for the Senate to deal meaningfully with Section 230, Big Tech’s industry subsidy.

Part of the reason there was a lack of action is that the right has not coalesced around an approach. Elements of the right’s coalition believe the status quo is acceptable; that Parler brought the wrath of Apple, Amazon, and Google on itself due to its content moderation policies; that the social media platforms – as well as banks, online merchants, credit cards, and book publishers — have a right to de-platform Trump and anyone they choose, and that right should never be questioned.

Those arguments have merit as a factual matter (although the argument that Parler brought the ban on itself ignores the obviously hypocritical treatment of Parler in relation to Facebook and Twitter). But they are myopic and selective, ignoring the larger consequences to a free society that follow from the scale and ideological bent with which this is all being done.

Content moderation choices by Google and Facebook, in particular, change information flows for billions of users around the world. Companies, particularly those in the financial and retail sector, are the sinews of capitalism. Corporations lining up to form an ideological test for usership is a counterintuitive way to run a free market.

Yet this argument still holds sway among much of the right, who feign helplessness in the face of market action that their policies continue to prioritize and privilege with tax credits, legal carveouts, government contracts, trade deal benefits, and lax antitrust enforcement.

Matt Yglesias recently criticized conservatives for being excellent at whining about social media bias but having very little in the way of solutions. He is right, although he misunderstands the work some of us on the right have been doing. Forcing the right to rethink their reflexive alliance with business is a paradigm shift that cannot happen overnight – although the recent corporate crackdown should speed this along.

Much of the work I and others have engaged in is designed to persuade; to meet conservatives where they are while making the case that liberty can be threatened by corporate tyranny as well as government tyranny. This is a fundamental premise that must first be acknowledged if policy solutions are to receive broad support among conservatives.

But Yglesias is correct that the time for persuasion has ended, and the time to align around concrete policy solutions is here. The threat of ideological corporate monopoly or oligopoly power is a real and present danger, and left unaddressed it will relegate conservatives, libertarians, and anyone with a right-leaning persuasion to a second-class citizenry unable to access the infrastructure of commerce, speech, and community engagement.

Breaking Up the Big Tech Oligopoly

We’re talking about digital-era monopolies that, in their market power and influence, rival the Gilded Age trusts and cartels that once exercised exclusive control over vast swaths of American industry. Instead of dithering over whether to tweak Section 230, we need to ask ourselves whether Amazon should be allowed to own AWS?

Should Facebook be allowed to own Instagram and WhatsApp and scores of other digital companies? Should Google be allowed to own YouTube and Android and DoubleClick? At what point do we say that these companies simply have too much power and that they represent combinations and trusts that must, like their 19th-century forebears, be broken up?

On antitrust, in particular, the right must shed what has become a reflexive corporate deference that has led to a marked lack of curiosity about what is happening in the marketplace. For the last forty years, the Chicago School approach to antitrust enforcement, pioneered by Robert Bork and Richard Posner, among others, has grounded enforcement in the rational construct of consumer harm.

But over time, the bounds of the “consumer welfare standard,” as it is known, have narrowed substantially to an almost exclusive focus on price. This has effectively granted antitrust immunity to the giant tech companies, who operate in many price-less markets. Their core services are “free,” insomuch as you don’t transact in dollars for them (you pay, of course, with your data).

But prices, for the most part, do not drive tech markets – innovation does. So a reductive framing of consumer welfare, where the only harm that could be constituted is with higher prices, conveniently renders antitrust inapplicable to tech companies.

While enforcers give lip service to innovation, enforcement is largely limited to when a price effect can be demonstrated through sophisticated and expensive econometric modeling. In digital markets, this often means they take a pass, as illustrated by the hundreds of acquisitions entered by the platforms over the past decade, most of which were cleared by federal antitrust agencies with little scrutiny.

This approach must change. As Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a member of the Senate’s Antitrust Subcommittee and a brilliant attorney, tweeted recently, “the consumer welfare standard is . . . not a narrow concern with prices. As Judge Bork wrote, it encompasses ‘innovation, choice among differing products’ and quality.” Markets, he noted, must “work for consumers, not just monopolists.”

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., has gone further, advocating for more resources and clear congressional direction for enforcement agencies, reforming the burden of proof in merger cases, and removing hurdles to enforcement when market power is clearly present.

Antitrust is not the only remedy available. Much of this corporate power exists because of government benefits for which the right has long advocated. If we are truly serious about tackling corporate tyranny, then it’s time for the right to tackle the policies that prioritize tech companies over everyone else.

It’s time to de-prioritize and end the billions in state, local, and federal subsidies fed to Big Tech companies. Both Google and Amazon enjoy substantial federal contracts with the government – AWS provides cloud computing for the CIA, for example. Those should be leveraged for better behavior.

Section 230, Big Tech’s congressionally granted legal immunity, should be reformed so tech companies are incentivized to address the exploitative and harassing content that proliferates on their platforms, and more accommodating of diverse political speech. Or, absent that, repeal it altogether.

The most compelling defense of preserving Sec. 230’s protections was that it protected free speech online. For conservatives, more and more of whom are barred from even participating in online speech forums, this is hardly a convincing argument for protecting what is effectively an industry subsidy.

The right can do more. Stop handing out taxpayer-funded, billion-dollar bailouts to corporations who should receive culpability instead. Push forward ideas that benefit small businesses and scrappy competitors over the lobbying power of entrenched interests. Our speech and communications in the public square have been fundamentally altered by the digital era, so perhaps a common carrier statutory framework should apply.

In short, stop privileging the companies who threaten pluralism and a free society, and restore the proper hierarchy of America, where the people rule — not the mob, not the corporate barons, not the bureaucrats, and not the tech titans.

This is the right’s time for choosing. The way we move forward will determine if we are a people beholden to the true ideals of republican government and free commerce, or if we have so corrupted the idea of freedom that we are happily willing to sacrifice the full expression of our liberties to a fundamentally undemocratic state of corporatism.

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Target Swiftly Bans Book On Behalf Of Anonymous Twitter User Crying ‘Transphobia’

An official Target company Twitter account announced Thursday they had removed author Abigail Shrier’s book, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” from the retailer’s “assortment” after an unverified Twitter user complained the book questions transgender ideology, especially the concept of irreversible hormonal and surgical experimentation on minors.

“I think the trans community deserves a response from @AskTarget @Target as to why they are selling this book about the ‘transgender epidemic sweeping the country.’ Trigger warning: Transphobia,” wrote the user.

Target thanked the user for bringing Shrier’s book to their attention.

Friday afternoon, a Target spokesman told The Federalist they would be adding the book back to their online catalog, but refused to specify why the book had been pulled in the first place.

“We removed a book from Target.com based on feedback we received,” the statement said. “We want to offer a broad assortment for our guests and are adding this book back to Target.com. We apologize for any confusion.”

The company’s lack of transparency raises questions about whether it has any set standards at all beyond arbitrarily bowing to anonymous social media mobbing.

Shrier’s book is not about sexual orientation or transgender adults. It examines the growing social phenomenon of transgender identification among teen girls and how underage medical “transitions” can be a form of self-harm.

“Girls who might have encouraged each other in bulimia, anorexia or cutting are today deciding they have ‘gender dysphoria,’ pushing for hormones and surgeries—and easily obtaining them,” writes Shrier.

Target is not the first corporate entity to censor Shirer’s book. When the book was released in June, Amazon barred Shrier’s publisher from running ads for the book because it contained copy and content that “infers or claims to diagnose, treat, or question sexual orientation.”

After Target’s announcement, Shrier noted the retailer’s eagerness to make books disappear on behalf of woke activists.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a feminist and human rights activist, tweeted that she was horrified by Target’s actions.

Watch Abigail Shrier discuss her book on The Federalist Radio Hour here:

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Yelp To Amplify All Unsubstantiated Claims Of Racism Against Businesses

Yelp, a California-based company that offers users a platform to review businesses online, announced that they are debuting a new policy that allows customers to report and flag businesses that they believe are racist without evidence.

“Now, when a business gains public attention for reports of racist conduct, such as using racist language or symbols, Yelp will place a new Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert on their Yelp page to inform users, along with a link to a news article where they can learn more about the incident,” the company said in a statement.

While Yelp claims that the reviews will be backed up by a new article, the statement released by the company says that the personal experiences described by users will be the guiding force for issuing these alerts.

“We advocate for personal expression and provide a platform that encourages people to share their experience online, but at the same time it’s always been Yelp’s policy that all reviews must be based on actual first-hand consumer experiences with the business.  This policy is critical to mitigating fake reviews and maintaining the integrity of content on our platform” the statement read.

Yelp did not immediately respond for comment, so it is unclear how the company defines “racist behavior” and what the company will do to filter out false or responses targeting someone for illegitimate or other reasons such as their faith.

The company has an existing policy for flagging businesses accused of being racist based on news reports or social media posts. According to internal research, Yelp says it had a “133% increase in the number of media-fueled incidences on Yelp compared to the same time last year.” The company also announced that it already placed “450 alerts on business pages that were either accused of, or the target of, racist behavior related to the Black Lives Matter movement.”

“If someone associated with a business is accused of, or the target of, racist behavior, we will place a Public Attention Alert on the business page to warn consumers that the business may be receiving an influx of reviews as a result of increased attention. For businesses accused of overtly racist actions, where we can link to a news article, we will escalate our warning with the Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert,” the company explained.

Users on Twitter pointed out the vulnerabilities of Yelp’s new policy, saying that people could easily falsely accuse a business of being “racist.”

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Finally One Tech Company Tells Social Justice Warriors To Take A Hike

Coinbase’s CEO Brian Armstrong is taking a strong stance against woke corporatism by refusing to participate in certain social and political movements such as Black Lives Matter. Armstrong’s address comes in response to a recent employee walkout at the cryptocurrency company.

“Everyone is asking the question about how companies should engage in broader societal issues during these difficult times while keeping their teams united and focused on the mission,” Armstrong said.

“It has become common for Silicon Valley companies to engage in a wide variety of social activism, even those unrelated to what the company does, and there are certainly employees who really want this in the company they work for. So why have we decided to take a different approach?” he wrote in a blog post clarifying the company’s policies.

Armstrong explained Coinbase prioritizes its mission, “playing as a championship team, focus on building, and being transparent” and that taking a stance one way or another would violate their inclusive work environment.

“While I think these efforts are well-intentioned, they have the potential to destroy a lot of value at most companies, both by being a distraction and by creating internal division,” Armstrong stated.

Armstrong wrote that for the company to focus on activism unrelated to their business would go against the principle of inclusion.  “We have people with many different backgrounds and viewpoints at Coinbase, and even if we all agree that something is a problem, we may not agree on how to actually go solve it.”

Armstrong also clarified that while the company does not want to focus on debate surrounding political or social justice matters, they do encourage it as “core to a healthy team where it is safe to disagree.”

“Of course, there are exceptions here around internal employment matters, whistleblowing, etc. And we want all employees to feel safe disagreeing on the work itself,” he explained. “Candor and debate are core to a healthy team, where it is safe to disagree. We consider these to be related to our mission.”

According to Armstrong, Coinbase employee duties should be used to the “service of the company or our own interests as employees and shareholders” and that leaving “policy decisions, non-profit work, broader societal issues, and political causes” out of their business strategies as much as possible is the best way to do so.

“We focus minimally on causes not directly related to the mission,” he said.

While Armstrong previously expressed his support for Black Lives Matter, engineers at Coinbase staged a walkout in June “after Armstrong declined to issue a public statement affirming that Black lives matter.”

Armstrong also received backlash from some for his decision such as former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo who offered to provide “video commentary” for the “me-first capitalists” who “are going to be the first people lined up against the wall and shot in the revolution.”

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