Feb 3 • 40M

Listen: The Holler on The Appodlachia Podcast

Misinformation battles, left media, TikTok censorship choices, and social media regulation... plus announcements in the foreword.

John Russell
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Politics for rednecks and hippies. Based in the Upper Ohio Valley. By @heyjohnrussell
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Hello Holler Nation.

This is the third and last installment of The Holler talking about content moderation on social platforms. For this particular story, we appeared on The Hill with Ryan Grim, Tell Me Everything on Sirius XM with John Fuselang, and now Appodlachia with Chuck Corra and John Isner. See previous shows in The Holler archives.

Stay tuned on Sunday for another Holler with regularly scheduled content. And stay *even more tuned* for a possible mid-week edition of The Holler for paid subscribers with interesting tales about life in the Ohio Valley - the kind of place where a rainbow-colored co-exist sticker can share real estate on the back of a rusted-out Dodge Durango with a collage of Insane Clown Posse stickers and a blue lives matter flag. The politics here are… complicated.

I think this column will be called Rat Tales. Like River Rats… because that’s what people who live on our slice of the river are called. But also like rat tails… because it’s a funny play on words and I had a massive rat tail when I was probably too old for that. Good name? Let me know in the comments.

Ok here’s the pod.

Full Podcast Transcript With Highlights

Chuck Corra (Appodlachia Host)

Our first interview of 2022. What a way to kick it off. We have another John first time that's ever happened. John Russell, who y'all may know of as The Holler, Ohio Valley, John's a progressive organizer, farmer, former candidate for Congress from Wellsville, Ohio, who previously worked for the Elizabeth Warren campaign, and as a Campaign Director for RuralVote.org. He's currently founder of The Holler Ohio Valley newsletter has a great TikTok following as well talking about wealth inequality and taxing the rich. We talked to him today about TikTok in fact, and censorship, and particularly of people on the left, progressive creators, even some of which are Appalachians. And what he's been doing with that he pitched a story to The Hill, it got picked up. It was a really great story. I'll put a link to it. But he talked to us about that, the kind of the stories he's been gathering, the people he's been talking to, and it's a really interesting conversation. John (Isner), I know that you joined us a little late, but look, looking forward to your thoughts on it as well.

John Isner (Appodlachia Host)

Look, I thought it was great. I mean, we luckily knock on wood. We haven't we've dealt with some weird shadow banning stuff. But we haven't really worried had to, like, see censorship as much as maybe some of these other people, which honestly is kind of surprising. But it's crazy to hear how much this is ramping up. And you'll hear from John's perspective, how he thinks that should be handled and where they can go from here.

Chuck Corra 

We get into a good conversation about censorship in general. And you know, how it relates to people on the left and the right and you know, what, what can actually be done about or what should be done about it. So, yeah, it was a good conversation. Hope you'll enjoy it.

First of all, you mentioned you're from... are you from Bridgeport, Ohio, or is that where you are right now?

John Russell (JR)

I am from Wellsville, Ohio. It is 45 minutes up the river from Bridgeport, Ohio. Wellsville, a town of 3500 people, is nobody knows where it is. But I always put it on the map with this. You know, Fiesta ware? Oh, yeah, okay. Yep. Fiesta Ware is made right across the river in West Virginia. Newell, West Virginia, but that is right across the river from where I grew up, which is Wellsville / East Liverpool.

Chuck Corra

Okay. Oh, East. Okay. East Liverpool, I believe. I know, East Liverpool because it always showed up on my TV for two-hour delays or for school closures when we got snow.

JR 

Yeah, exactly. That's kind of how you find out every other town in Ohio Valley but East Liverpool. 10, 15,000 people. Wellsville 3,500 folks. I left there 10 years ago. Came back. And I'm outside of Wheeling now but barely in Ohio.

Chuck Corra

Got it. Got it. Well, I know we have a lot to talk about. You have some really interesting reporting that you've been doing. But I did want to ask you a little bit about your background. Mostly for our audience's benefit. But also mine cuz I'm curious. What uh, you are a farmer. At one point you ran for office. Tell me a little bit about yourself first. Then we can jump into what you're working on now.

JR 

Yeah, longtime listener first-time caller to the Appodlachia show. So hi, listeners. I am John Russell. I grew up on a farm in Wellsville. That's where kind of where the farming comes in. Both my grandparents were dairy farmers. I did an ag degree and came back to Ohio but it was central Ohio. My brother bought some land there right outside of Columbus. And for about seven years, I did production agriculture on that I grew everything you can find in the grocery store produce aisle. I sold to farmers' markets, wholesale markets. Pro tip for listening public out there. If you're going to try to sell at an Amish produce auction, you will not beat them on price. So I learned that the hard way. 

Agriculture and politics have always kind of been a through-line in my life. And there's not a lot of agriculture, agriculturally based Democrats out there. And that's kind of what I fell into. So you mentioned a run for office there. I've always lived in rural areas. Nobody was gonna run for a State House seat in central Ohio that was very rural in 2016. So I bought an old Schwinn bike from the 70s and road it down dirt roads in Knox County and ended up knocking on 16,000 doors personally, and still getting crushed!

Chuck Corra

You hate it but I admire the dedication, the grit that's 16,000 doors is not an easy thing to do for anybody.

JR 

Yeah, yeah, you know, I, I'm an old soul at heart, I have always had a pair of made in America New Balances. I wore out a couple of those. But in you know, we should talk about at some point you running for those local offices, you know cuz that's even if people are doing that kind of really good work and getting crushed, I think it's really under-examined to make a good effort in those rural districts where it seems pretty hopeless, like if you're bringing out one, two, three thousand new voters that still and you know, everybody does that across the state and that's still really impactful. One of the reasons why I wanted to do that. So that was 2016, and then I kind of ended up accidentally running for Congress, if you can wrap your head around that. 

Chuck Corra

Yeah, why not just throw the hat in the ring? 

JR 

Well, what happened here was, I got a good name from working really hard for that district. Then me, and a lot of other people who really took this organization beyond what it was at the start, we started an Indivisible group after 2016. And pro trivia for any of the listening audience that remembers this. The Republicans at that time were going to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And they delegated Schlub in Chief Pat Tiberi, a Republican from Central Ohio, to do that. We started the Indivisible group, were a real pain in the ass there, we had "Flat Pat", a cardboard cutout of Pat, to take to his town halls since he wouldn't show up. But we did a number of these town halls, one of them got 1000 people out and ended up on MSNBC, and we really put pressure on this guy. And then out of nowhere, Pat stepped down. And that made one of five special elections across the country in 2018 that were going to be the first elections after the Trump years. And so at that point, I had a farm in the district, I put a lot of work for state rep, I, you know, had a role in starting and growing that Indivisible group, threw my hat in the ring into the primary, and was the was kind of the rural progressive candidate there, was endorsed by Justice Democrats, but same fate still got crushed! But you know, it's worth it to try sometimes.

Chuck Corra

You know, it's important to run in those areas, if for nothing else, and start building some infrastructure for progressives there. I only say that, because it's hard. It's hard work, and nobody wants to do it. Because the likelihood of winning is so low, but it's so important.

JR 

It is and you know, we gotta rebuild this infrastructure, these parties, and our infrastructure that's died off over the years. It really starts with that. You know, so if you're interested in that, do it. 

Chuck Corra

Yeah, let's have you back on some time when John's here because his insight on running is also really helpful. I helped run his campaign from afar, but he did all the, you know, the shoe leather leg work on that. But so I think transitioning because I know, you know, one of the reasons why you're here is because of a wonderful app that nobody seems to understand TikTok, except you understand it pretty well, you've, you've garnered a pretty good following on there. And one thing that you and I talked about offline was a recent story, I think that you pitched to a couple of outlets about censorship, particularly progressive voices. So I want to give the mic over to you to kind of explain a little bit about that. And what's happening there.

JR 

Yeah, you know, TikTok. We all love it. It's fun. It sucks up a lot of hours of your day. But it's, you know, we have progressives have this problem, we write about it, we hand wring about it all the time. We don't have a media network that's really to scale to counter what the right has been working on and investing billions on, for literally half a century. I mean, 50 years, they really recognized the power and built it. And that's what we're up against, you know, a point I want to make here is

for our part of the country, Appalachia, and for, you know, even more specific to where I am, Ohio's sixth congressional district, which is eastern Ohio, the sixth congressional was as blue 15 years ago, as it is red today. And today, it is the congressional district that has had the biggest swing to conservatives of anyone in the country. That happened over 15 years. And it happened because of the media landscape.

So what tools do we have to fight back against this? Well, what the point I made in this pitch, is, you know,

the left doesn't really have a media network. But what we do have is all these little creators that have the credibility of their own. There are people in the recovery community. There are Black Lives Matter activists, creators of color. There are straight-up rednecks like you and me out there putting out a progressive message that's much needed. There are all these little islands all over the country that are getting progressive messaging out, and a lot of that is happening on Tik Tok.

What's interesting is, the right is on TikTok as well. And you will have videos that have straight-up misinformation. You'll have videos from the far right, that are either explicitly violent or have allusions to violence. You'll have, you know, cops in official uniform wearing three percenters gear, stuff like that garnering millions of views. And then on the other side, you'll have creators of color being taken down for really light things. You'll have people laying out very factual accounts of the CIA intervening in South American countries, you'll have that taken down. You'll have people who either, whether it's just kind of funnily embarrassing a brand account of a large corporation, you know, you'll have folks doing that and they're getting taken down. You'll have critiques of our system, whether that's like, people can't afford health care without going broke, or the Sacklers are paying a fine that amounts to the cost of doing business and avoiding jail time, despite mocking everybody who they got addicted to opioids and you make content on that, and that gets taken down. So what I did was line up those examples and pitch a news outlet on it, and they took the story that ran on The Hill. That was Ryan Grim that participated.

Chuck Corra

Yeah, and I watched that it was a really good I think rundown of all these examples, which I personally like I didn't even know about I don't get on Tik Tok a lot. I mean, I post occasionally for our account. That's pretty much it. And I didn't realize that there was like, but I do get on there occasionally and I get way more right-wing stuff that I do progressive. What's been sort of the official company line reason for why some of these posts have been taken down. Has it just been like you're formulaic? You violated x terms of agreements, or what is it?

JR 

This is one of the biggest points. When you get taken down. You really don't get a good answer. TikTok, fun fact about it. It's the world's most popular web domain. It's passed Google and Facebook. 

Chuck Corra

Really? 

JR 

Yeah.

Chuck Corra 

That's wild. 

JR 

People are on Tik Tok that you wouldn't think are on TikTok. I mean, I work at a bar and live above a bar in Bridgeport that I work at. A couple of the customers are not your typical resistance liberal crowd, and I mentioned I was on TikTok and they were like, "oh, yeah, let me follow you." You know, everybody is on TikTok.

Chuck Corra

That'll be interesting. Yeah. Should be interesting.

JR 

Yeah. If I go missing, you'll know. But the point is, TikTok doesn't give you a good reason when they decide to take your videos down. And it's not really clear. The reasons why they're taken down in the first place. And an important thing that leads to is, you know, some of the creators we brought together for this piece, they have a couple 100,000 followers on Tik Tok, do political education. It leads to self-censorship. If you're trying to educate folks, on, you know, American interventionism, and your video's taken down, then you're kind of left to wonder, okay, what word was it that I said, that I can scrub out of there and repost this and have it still fly? And that leads people to do all kinds of crazy things. You know, there's, there's people misspelling words in the captions and replacing words that you don't think you can say with other silly stuff. So, but that's kind of a double whammy if Tik Tok doesn't take it down initially, then you have a lot of creators especially when they get larger and this becomes something that they can actually do and make money on. Not wanting to touch subjects that we really all could benefit from learning about.

Chuck Corra

Yeah, yeah, cuz it's when it's your sole source of livelihood is one of your biggest sources of livelihood which it is for many people that it becomes a financial and well-being liability to do that. And if you're I guess if you don't know why they're taking it down, then that that's even scarier. To me, that's very strange because Tik Tok as a platform is clouded in so much mystery from everything from the algorithm to how the for you page functions, which nobody knows, nobody except, I guess, the developers. To something like this which is very bizarre and look, I everybody I think makes jokes about, conservatives being censored on like Twitter and stuff like that which they're not really and they say this from a different platform that they're not being censored from everything. But for something like this, I mean, like, there's a lot of creators on Tik Tok that aren't present or don't have a big following on other platforms because it's so, I don't want to say easy, but there's such a great potential for somebody to really gain a following on Tik Tok versus other platforms. I mean, Daniel Kirk, who had on our show last year is a great example, which I think you had mentioned, also kind of fell victim to this sort of censorship.

JR 

Yeah, you know, I'll let Danielle talk about it. But we did reach out to her for the story. And it's kind of the same deal. You know, once you pass a certain level of followers on Tik Tok, you have a little bit of influence, and then your videos start getting taken down, you start to think, well, you know, all the good that I can do with these followers might be jeopardized if I say something that TikTok, which, by the way, is owned by a hostile foreign government…

Chuck Corra

Yeah, right. There you go. There's, there's that little thing. Yeah.

JR 

Yeah. Not to mention that. But you know, you start to ask yourself, I can educate with this platform, I can do a lot of good things with it. But am I going to jeopardize that by touching something that might run afoul of the community guidelines, which we don't even know what those are, and seem to be applied differently? You know there's all these examples, we lined up of creators kind of on the left, who are having things taken down pretty consistently. So you know, you have a population of people who could be learning about the kinds of things they're educating on, not learning about those things, because they're taken down. Yet on the other side of TikTok, far-right extremism is allowed to go very, very viral. Are there examples of the right being censored? Yes. But those fall into the larger question of how much influence do we want the world's most popular web platform to have over public debate and education? Because right now, it doesn't seem like that's a fair or good thing.

Chuck Corra

Yeah, it's, it's kind of scary to think about because at least with Google, you have to do some sort of navigating yourself in order to reach different ideas or different types of content, whereas on Tik Tok, which is equally as popular, more popular than Google now, in some instances, you're served that up through the algorithm. And so it is really troubling, especially when you think about progressive voices being minimized. And especially Appalachian ones because I think, especially with Daniel Kirk, yourself so many others, you know, like the entire Well Read trio, so much of I think, a new perception about Appalachia and about the South and about just, quote-unquote, red parts of the country in general, are now being sort of reshaped or more nuanced attitude because of voices like yours, like Danielle's, like Trae Crowder, you know, who have you. And so that, to me, is what stuck out about this story. Because so much of that, like hinges on that you mentioned earlier, that progressives, don't really, there's not really a media ecosystem infrastructure that supports that kind of voice now, it reminded me, I think you mentioned this the other day about Air America which most people listening to this probably have no idea what that was, which is telling about its success. But it was like a left-leaning radio network that you know, shit the bed, bit the dust, however you want to put it. But there isn't that and I think that this is another threat to what little voice progressives in our region have.

JR 

It's a great point. And I would say it's not even a little voice. I mean, you know, my account is just shy of 70,000 followers on there. You know Trae's is much, much bigger. Daniels's bigger.

So, Air America. I don't even know what the audience is. But you have this collection of Appalachian creators out there. There are upper other Appalachian yallidarity, yallternative crowds that have bigger platforms than mine.

But just with the 70,000 followers, that'll get between 100,000 and 150,000 views on the page every week of the kind of message that progressives need to put out there and not to mention the fact that when you, or my account, or Danielle's, or anybody else sticks their hand up and says, "Hey, you're not alone out here in the vast sea of what appears to be red." There are many of us and we are willing to educate and organize and do the things necessary to make the kind of to make Appalachia what we know it can be. There are lots of folks out there. And there is a potential, you know, I think they should all be organized and funded. I mean, certainly progressive organizations spend a lot of money on things that don't really pan out. I think they should sustain these creators who are kind of making a left media network without anybody's help. 

Chuck Corra

Yeah, it'd be nice to get some money, especially like political money diverted towards that, you know, rather than going into like Nancy Pelosi administered super PAC or some shit like that. 

JR 

Yeah, I mean, here's a great point,

we spent a billion dollars on five senate candidates in the Midwest, all of them lost. And, you know, their organizations go away when that happens, or they spawn these little PACs that that are hard to measure what they actually do. So, we should put a lot more money to the people who are actually carrying the message from Appalachia right now. 

Chuck Corra

I agree. And I think that that, that part of this problem is, you know, we're all beholden to big tech at some point. And to some extent, I'm wondering, though, like, what has been, what is there any effort to try to get a response from TikTok? Or to try to figure this out or do something about this censorship issue? I mean, because, and I guess, like, part of the problem is, it's a Chinese-owned and operated company, which means the US laws, I think, seldom touch it. So there are problems there. But I mean, is there anything people are trying to do to figure this out to try to combat this to try to solve this problem?

JR 

I'm sure there are. I don't know every instance of it. But I think putting it on the record was an important part of adding it to this discussion because it doesn't just apply to TikTok. I mean, back to our region of the country, you know, West Virginia was a union Democrat state for a long, long time. The Ohio River Valley was as blue fifteen years ago, as it is red today. All those things are influenced by what happens in the media, and how, you know, new social media is regulated is going to influence the voting behavior of those regions in the future so I think doing something about it starts with putting it on the record.

Chuck Corra

Yeah, I completely agree. I think that's a really smart strategy. Because of, you know, there's limited things that people can really do about TikTok and how they run their operations there. Because something like this is happening. And look, this is happening with conservatives. It's usually about things that they're saying that are racist and should probably get them de-platformed. Let's but let's set that aside for it. Now. You mentioned something of like bringing more awareness to this and putting people on different platforms. I think that that's a good, a good idea. And I think that more progressive voices, particularly from Appalachia would be benefited from that. Has that been kind of like your goal with this? Like, what's your goal in general with what you're doing, because I know that we can kind of move into like your type of work now. With The Holler and everything that you're doing on TikTok and with your newsletter and that type of thing.

JR 

Yeah, The Holler is what I call my newsletter. And you know, that comes out weekly, it's probably gonna move to bi-weekly, but we do politics for rednecks and hippies. It's from Appalachia, it's for every part of the country that's like Appalachia, that has our kind of problems. I think that media in general has been a little too cautious. And wed to objectivity, quote, unquote, I'm doing air quotes. And when we have a political situation right now, you know, where one party kind of wants to nix the whole democracy thing? Yeah, that whole thing? Yeah, that whole thing. And the other party is having trouble tying its shoes, there need to be very pro-working-class media. And that's non-partisan. To me, if you have to work for a living, you are working-class. And that puts a lot of people with all kinds of different politics in the same boat. But one of the things that The Holler does, you know, we'll do a lot of political education about the wealth gap. We had a video that got 10 million views and was written up in the international press, weirdly. That was simply taking graph paper. Right here, I always have my tools close at hand. Graph paper, like you remember from your Appalachia math class, love graph paper, but one of our biggest videos was we just made each of those little squares on there $5 billion, and we said down here is $0. And up here is Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man. And what it showed was the 1% was not even detectable. There was no difference between where the 1% started and zero on the scale of the wealth of billionaires today. So we'll do political education like that. And then the other thing the holler does also will travel out and cover strikes, union organizing, especially in Appalachia, Special Metals, is still on strike. And your listeners have been really great, you guys have been really great about lifting that up. And, you know, we'll go out there and cover things that the working class is doing for itself, to try and elevate those and get more folks to do it. Because ultimately, to solve these problems, it's going to require a lot of people with different politics, but the same class coming together, realizing they're in the same boat organizing and doing something about it. That's the whole goal of my newsletter and The Holler. 

John Isner 

People are going to, let's say people on the right are going to kind of laugh at the idea that the left is being stopped, you know, they're being censored. What is, I guess the easy way to say it is, what's the proof behind it? What's happening in terms of, you know, what are you seeing over a lot of creators, not just yourself?

JR 

Yeah, we were able to line up a couple big accounts. One of them was a public defender, he was talking about a person that was held 10 years beyond their sentence. And that was taken down by TikTok for talking about dangerous individuals. We have, you know, with black and BIPOC creators, there are many, many examples. But if you do, if you're talking about any kind of organizing around Black Lives Matter, that is automatic ground, you're stepping close to the line, and plenty of BIPOC creators will cite the number of times they've been taken down for talking about Black Lives Matter. We had another creator this was these are just three examples that we brought forward to talk about this on the show, but they're innumerable. A lot of people reached out. We had another creator who does a series called Economics For The People. That's Jessica Burbank and also I should say, shout these creators out to Alex Claverling who posts at @loloverruled, public defender, great guy. Jessica Burbank @KaBurbank, and Erynn Chambers @Rynnstar. Jessica Burbank does Economics For The People and also talks about American intervention in South American countries. All of these things were taken down along those lines, that's just scratched the surface. And you know, to close out that point, it is true that creators on the right are being censored. Now, is there a difference between something that gets censored for far-right violence versus factual education about American intervention in South America? I think there is a difference. But the thing that unites the left and right here who are being taken down, is this question, how much power do we want the world's largest web platform to have over public debate in our country, especially with politics as they are today? And that seems like a big one.

John Isner 

That's understandable. Yeah. I mean, I think it's ridiculous that it's happening. But I always kind of go back to my thought, and this is just my personal thought. When this was happening to conservatives, the first thing I said was, you know, Twitter is a private company that can do these things. So I'm, I'm still torn. Like, it sucks. But technically, you know, are we really into a constitutional issue? Or are we just more kind of a morality issue when it comes to the overall theme of what the internet is now? So that's why I still struggle with it. Because what you're saying is true. There is a huge difference between fear-mongering and trying to educate people, right? The weird part is, you know, are we gonna be on a slippery slope, if we start to say they can't do it on the left, and then they start just bringing everybody back on the right. That sucks!

JR  

I think it's a true thought.

But I think the larger point behind that is just regulation of internet companies in general, if you know, violence that starts on Facebook or these platforms has spilled out into the real world. You know, every local up here in the Ohio Valley, every local paper has died off and it's been replaced by a Facebook group, where I watch sweet little old ladies who cut the crust off of my peanut butter and jelly is growing up being radicalized in a Facebook group of 5000 people in a town that nobody could name. That's happening all across the country. And I think more than just how many times are creators on the left being taken down versus creators on the right, I think we all have to ask, what is the regulatory burden that these companies should operate in? And since these companies have such influence over our government, I think they've been allowed to get a free pass on that. Even when we know that the YouTube algorithm is radicalizing people and putting them into a pipeline. Facebook is doing the same thing. And it ends in things like the insurrection. The regulation has to it seems like it's could be better than right now.

Chuck Corra

It's nonexistent. I would agree, I think, um, something that doesn't get talked about enough, and I think that many people are afraid to touch in some respects, is just how necessary it is to regulate tech companies in general, because they govern so much of our lives, even if we don't want to admit it, or realize that we're using their products constantly every day. They're not like other companies. And our regulatory regime is like, I want to say regime that's our regulatory framework doesn't even address that. I mean, the last time that laws and regulations were updated for the internet, my God, like how long ago was that in a comprehensive fashion? 

JR 

That's probably when AOL was coming to you in the mail on CDs. 

Chuck Corra

Yep. Dude... 

JR 

You remember that?

Chuck Corra

I saved so many of them. Yeah, absolutely.

JR

They're my coasters, now. My coffee coasters.

Chuck Corra

Those are I mean, those are a relic you could probably such a good bit of money for those.

JR 

Is that want an NFT is?  

Chuck Corra

Yes, absolutely. It but in the shape of a gorilla.

John Isner

Don't sell it though, that Microsoft case still killing the guy who sold all those CDs. 

JR 

My retirement plan is actually a closet full of Beanie Babies and AOL CDs.

Chuck Corra

Mine is just a picture of my closet of Beanie Babies because I'm going to make it into an NFT.

John Isner

As an NFT. That's pretty good. Something that you said right there, John to it kind of not calling you John number two, I just meant John. Exactly sound like a big old douche thing to say. So you mentioned there too it's interesting.

Because when you're talking about these things shutting down like newspapers, even small local news channels, you're starting to now get into the constitutionality of the freedom of the press on these types of things on TikTok on Twitter, you know, how much are we going to allow that to be stopped? I mean, it's interesting, because we already say like their private companies, you know, they technically don't have to always abide 100% by the First Amendment. But I'd be interested because, I mean, we've always held in the country that one of the most cherished things is the press. And you're right, these things are closing down. So is this going to now constitute essentially them publishing work? I think that's a great, great point.

JR 

I also think that's a great point. I mean, that's not one that I've heard made a lot, but absolutely belongs in this discussion. And, you know, kind of fits under the larger thing of the world has changed a lot. The internet's been around for what, 30 years? I don't know if I'm going to be off base here. But it's not a long time. And it's completely reshaped this landscape in ways that we haven't been able to respond to, through elected government. And part of that is because of the stranglehold that these large companies have over elected representatives. And, you know, Chuck, you were talking about a point that fits into this being a private company. One of the videos I had taken down and that still has not been restored, was a message that I made for conservative voters. And the point I was making is private companies and private wealth has become everything that they were taught to fear about government. You in your pocket right now you have a tracking device that knows everybody that you know, it knows where you go, it knows what you write it. You know, your phone is tracking you constantly if you have an Alexa sorry to say that on the podcast, and now it's going to order diapers or whatever you have your Alexa programmed to do. If you have an Alexa in your house. That's a listening device. You can see anytime you mentioned Google, this is a record that you can look up. Google listens to what you're talking about, we've all had the experience of looking at an Instagram ad. And all of a sudden, you know, I'm getting ads for incredibly manly leather wallets that are, you know, my kind of spending.

The point is like these private companies, they are everything that we've kind of feared government would be and they're unaccountable to the public, despite having the most power over our lives right now.

Chuck Corra

Yeah, it's, it is a bigger problem than I think people A. realize and B. are willing to admit.

JR 

Yes, I said all that and then got taken down. I'm surprised I haven't had a bag put over my head just saying it now.

Chuck Corra

Listen, if, if this episode ends up just disappearing out of nowhere, you'll know why. And it's not because we... look like several of our episodes have disappeared out of nowhere. But those were when we had old microphones and weren't very good at this, so a little bit different. Yeah, I mean, it's a complicated thing, and TikTok being owned by China is a whole different animal in and of itself, in addition to that, which I think complicates a lot of things. But I do think that no matter what, there has to be some sort of policy solution towards tech in general, even if it's a foreign-based company that's operating in the United States because this is, I can't stress it enough, like how much these companies control our lives and how little the government fingerprint, or footprint, or claws, or whatever the fuck you wanna call it is, is on them. And it's, it is just unbelievable. And I have a feeling that there's a lot of irreparable harm has probably been done. I don't want to go into this doom and gloom loop so I won't, but I do think it's a problem. I think what you're doing is really important, really smart.

JR 

I mean, I think when you say these things, you know, people can hear them and be like, "Okay, well then stop using TikTok, or Amazon or whatever." I don't think we have to do that. I mean, I love the convenience of Amazon. I wish they would unionize. I love cat videos on TikTok. But it shouldn't be you know, we can have our cake and eat it too here if we just act through our representatives and have some sensible regulation on it. But to date, that's kind of been avoided.

John Isner 

Also, when people say that my first thought is, "Okay, I'll stop doing it. It changes nothing." But if you hold the other side accountable, it changes everything. So the whole idea of like, just quit, you know, quit doing X literally means nothing. It's just a thing one person stops. It does nothing. It makes you feel good. It makes you morally feel good. But it doesn't do anything. But when you're out there using those platforms to essentially educate people about them. That's a bit different.

JR 

Yeah. That's also kind of a part of what these companies do. You know, they, they make it seem like... that happens with climate change all the time. You know, oil companies are like, "alright, well use less single-use plastic or single straws. Now it's on you to stop doing that", meanwhile, you know, they're accountable for nearly all the emissions. That's just the same story different tune with these tech companies. They shape the landscape we all operate in, and it needs to be a better one that's a little bit more fair and transparent.

Chuck Corra

Yeah, yeah, I think the best thing you can do is to trigger a little bit of a Streisand effect with any of these censored things where you know, you make a big enough deal about it that censoring it only causes more of that to reach more people, which hopefully is what would end up happening. Well, this has been a really interesting discussion. I really appreciate you coming on and talking with us about this. I really appreciate the work you're doing The Holler. We should definitely have you back on some time to talk about local races, local elections, running, and local races. We touched on that before John got here. But yeah, appreciate what you're doing and keep it up. And you're welcome back anytime.

JR 

Thanks, guys. Huge fan of the show. Great listeners. I know there's a lot of other Hollers out there. So shout out to them. It was kind of a naming thing. We're all doing our good work. But check it out at TheHoller.co that's in the Ohio Valley. And I'm posting @HeyJohnRussell on TikTok and I really appreciate you guys having me on. 

Chuck Corra

Hell yeah, man. Thanks so much.