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June 19, 2024 28 mins

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
There is a new warning out for children in this country,
and if you're a parent or a grandparent, you need
to understand what is happening to so many kids right now,
and it is really being underreported on. It is kids
that are taking their own lives because they are being
bullied online with content that many times is explicit in

nature and actually is not even the child that is
being targeted by their peers. It is AI and deep
fake technology. There are people now and the air programs
and their websites, and there are places that you can
go for free and take the face of someone you
know and put it on the body of someone else

that is doing explicit content or activity. There is also
something else that's called revenge pornography, and that is where
maybe you had something that was supposed to stay private
between you and someone else, and then someone gets angry
or gets broken up with or the relationship goes sideways,

and people will then post it online to get revenge
on that person. This is also causing a significant amount
of harm to so many kids that are in this
country now having to deal with what happens online and
on social media. There is new legislation that I want

to tell you about, and it is important legislation that
I need you to get behind and call your congressman
and your center now Center. Ted Cruz is going to
join me to talk about that in a few minutes,
but I wanted to lay that out there for you.
There's also something else politically that's happening, and that is
we are seeing some new data here. And I mentioned

on the show before that Barack Obama coming in to
try to save Joe Biden actually may have made things
worse because of how senile Joe Biden looked on stage.
Now we're going to talk about that, but there's something
else it's happening. When they brought in Barack Obama, they
were hoping specifically that he would be able to stop

the bleeding with the African American vote that is leaving
Joe Biden at record numbers, and where they're going they
are actually going to Donald Trump. The support among minorities
right now is at a historic high for a Republican
presidential candidate in the Hispanic community as well as the
African American community. We're going to get into that also

now before we get into the deep fake aspect of this,
I want to lay some groundwork, and just so you
understand how bad it's gotten online for so many kids
in this country. Los Angeles, Okay, not exactly, like a
conservative bastion of elected officials has now come out in

their unified school district and they have just banned cell
phones and they have also just and social media in
the classroom. The Los Angeles School District voted five to
two in favor of banning cell phones and social media
use during the day, amid a massive outcry from educators

about the harm that is doing to kids, specifically when
it comes to bullying, but also when it comes to
their education. Now, this ban in Los Angeles, again, this
is a liberal city with a liberal, liberal, liberal ideology
and school board. What they have now said is this

is going to go into effect in the spring of
twenty twenty five and goes beyond the previous district policy
of only banning cell phones during class instruction while limited
social media, while limiting social media to quote educational purposes. Now,
the ban comes following a Pew Research Center Institute research

paper showing that seventy two percent of high school teachers
in the United States believe cell phone use has become
a quote major problem inside of their classrooms because kids
now have the ability with their phones and with their
iPods and are their earbuds, i should say, and their

watches to constantly be on social media while they're supposed
to be learning. How would you like to know that
every time you make a phone call, you're actually giving
back and standing up for the conservative values that you
stand for. Now that is pretty fun because when you're
with Patriot Mobile, every time you pay your bill, they

take about five percent of your bill at no extra
cost to you, and they give it back to organizations
that support free speech, religious freedom, the sanctity of life,
as well as our Second Amendment. And then they do
something else. They stand and help our veterans, whether it
is with mental health issues or it is our wounded
warrior that were wounded in battle. They also stand with

our police or fire or eemts, our first responder heroes.
That's one reason why I love Patriot Mobile. But the
real thing you need to know is this. You if
you're with Big Mobile, you may not understand this or
even realize it, but now you do because I'm telling
you they're taking your money and they give massive donations
to Democratic Party Democratic candidate and democratic and liberal causes,

including planned parenthood. Now, if you don't want your money
going there, you need to make the switch. And switching
now has never been easier when it comes to your
cell phone and you're and the number one reason why
people don't switch is because they're afraid of coverage and
issues when they switch. That doesn't happen anymore. Either. You're
on the same exact towers you're on right now when

you switch to Patriot Mobile. But you're getting rid of
the woke agenda of the radical left. So call them
save money on your bill, and not only will you
be doing that, but you'd be standing up for the
values you Even every time you make a call nine
seven to two Patriot, it's nine to seven two Patriot.
Nine seven to two Patriot, get free activation when you

use the offer code Ben. Or you can call them
nine seven to two Patriot or online at Patriotmobile dot
com slash ben. That's Patriot Mobile dot com slash ben. Now,
the previous policy that I just mentioned took effect in
twenty eleven and became relatively toothless in the face of

smartphones used exploited over the past decade, where many are
claiming well, hey, it's for educational purposes, so I need
my phone. Quote. Our students are glued to their cell phones,
not unlike adult said board member Nick Melvaughn, who supports
the band, saying quote, they're scrolling in school in class time,

they have their head in their hands, walking down the hallways.
They're not talking to each other or playing at lunch
or reys because they have their air pods in district
members supporting the band wrote that research shows quote excessive
cell phone use impacts adolescents mental health and well being
and is associated with increased stress, anxiety, depression, sleep issues,

feelings of aggression, and suicidal thoughts. Let me say that again,
because if you're a parent or grandparent, you really need
to understand what you are up against. Right now. The
use of a cell phone and excessive cell phone use
has now become the norm among kids. It impacts mental
health and the well being of your child or grandchild,

and it is directly now associated with increased stress, anxiety, depression,
sleep issues, feelings of aggression, and the worst one, suicidal thoughts.
Research indicates the limiting cell phone usage and social media
access during the school day increases academic performance and has

positive effects on student mental health. Parents express concerns, of course,
that the blanket band could put their children at risk
in the case of an emergency. By the way, we
survived and had fewer emergencies when we didn't have cell phones,
And if a kid needs to get in touch with
a parent, it's not hard. You can go to the
office and make that phone call. Quote. I think in

emergencies and with parent communication, this is definitely where a
lot of parents have expressed their concerns to me that
one school board member said, I think it's such a
tragic sign of the times that is that what we
initially think of, and we all need to do better
in this country when it comes to he says, gun
violence prevention and keeping our students safe. Now, I'm not

going to go in on the gun violence issue right now.
We can save that for another show. But what this
fools down to is they're telling you and warning you
that you're the kid's cell phone is not only used
to exploit your child, to attack your child. Your kids
dealing with anxiety and depression and suicidal thoughts from having

these phones twenty four to seven and the bullying that
comes along with it. But they're also, and this is
extremely important, not getting a education. They're not receiving a
quality education because they're all on their phones. Twenty four
to seven. I was sitting at the pool recently with

my kids. My kids are younger seven to five, and
there was a birthday party and it was a birthday
party for I'm guessing the kid was thirteen or fourteen.
It was a large birthday party. It was probably ten
to fifteen kids that were of each sex, boys and girls.
And what was shocking in the moment that I witnessed

this birthday party was none of the kids were swimming.
They were all quote eating dinner at that point, at
part in the point, at that point in the party,
not a single one of the boys was speaking to
any of the other boys. And they were completely isolated
from the girls whose party. It was. So the boys
showed up and they were all sitting on their cell phones.

None of them were talking to one another, none of them.
You think about, you go to a birthday party and
all of these kids, thirteen, fourteen, whatever, they were, all
of them on their phones. Not a single one of
the men boys were conversing with one another. They weren't

even showing each other things on their phones. They literally
were all sitting there eating the food at the party,
not talking to anyone else. This is just how bad
it's gotten. And it's not just that it is making
it where these kids do not know how to have conversations.
They don't know how to have eye contact, they don't

know how to converse with one another, they don't know
how to communicate in basic I guess you could say
terms that is the biggest problem here that I see
with all of this. Now, let me just say this.
You look at what's happening in our schools and you
can can directly tie it to this other issue and

this legislation that is incredibly important legislation that we desperately need,
that is bipartisan now to protect people online and when
someone is putting out information about them that is horrific
or embarrassing, you need a way to take it down online.

And right now, if you're the victim of this exploitation,
it is virtually impossible to get it taken down online.
Take a listen to what Senata Cruz had to say
about this legislation that all of you need to get behind.
I want to start with painting a picture here, especially

so people understand just how important this bipartisan legislation is.
You're working with Amy Klobuchar introducing the tools to address
known exploitation of innocent people. This has become a moneymaker online,
by the way, for people that want to do this
to celebrities. We saw that recently happened with Taylor Swift

and it really brought to light just how damaging these
deep fakes can be. And and these and this this
kind of revenge that some people will take on on
X's and others or people they just want to harm
or or even just make money off of. But there's
also I know people personally who have been affected by
this that are not famous, that are not a celebrity,

and it has ruined the reputation. We have seen warnings
from parents on the issue of suicide with young girls,
young teens, young boys who have had been exploited in
this way with things that aren't real, that are fake,
and they can't get them taken down. They are then
bullied and it's been tragic and cost many young people
their lives. And that's why you guys are doing this.

Speaker 2 (13:21):
Well, that's exactly right, and I'll tell you one of
the major things that brought this issue to my attention.
What was actually a call we got from a constituent,
a mom, a family that live in North Texas and
Alito and her daughter. A fourteen year old girl was targeted,
targeted by a classmate, a classmate that took her face

and her image from social media, from Snapchat and other
social media and used AI use deep fake technology to
graft her face onto explicit nude images that were not
her and publicized those to all of her classmates. She's
fourteen years old. This poor girl goes into school with

all of her classmates but believing that they've seen explicit
sexual images of her and it was a total lie.
But obviously it traumatized this this this teenage girl significantly
as any as any young person what er for that matter,
most adults would that that that is a horrific experience
to go through and and listen, there's always been the

ability for someone to photoshop and you know, put put
Ben Ferguson's head on Arnold Schwarzenegger's body. And by the way,
that was you and Connan the Barbarian. I was really impressed. Ben.
You should not punch the camel. I'm gonna sick pete on.
You punch you a camel is a bad move. But look,
if you graft your head onto a different body, it

was fairly obvious to someone someone watching. What's changed is
with the deep fake technology, it can now look completely
real that people can look at it and go do food.
I didn't know Ferguson was so ripped and that here's
an amazing stat. Up to ninety five percent of all

Internet deep fake videos depict non consensual intimate images, up
to ninety five percent, and the vast majority of them
target women and girls. And so this is becoming a tool,
a tool for cyber bullying, a tool for attacking, maybe
attacking an ex girlfriend or an ex wife or an
ex partner that you're mad at and using it just

to smear them and attack them. And so this bill,
I've introduced it along with Amy klobachar Amy Clobchard as
a Democrat, as you know, from Minnesota. It's also co
sponsored by Cynthia Lummis, who's a Republican from Wyoming, Richard Blumenthal,
who's a Democrat from Connecticut. Shelley Moore Capito is a
Republican from West Virginia and Jackie Rosen who's a Democrat

from Nevada. So we brought together both Republicans and Democrats.
And the two elements of this are number one, making
it a crime, making it a felony to publish non
consensual intimate images without without consent, again against someone's wishes.
But number two, as I mentioned, and I think this
is the piece. So there's other bills people have introduced

that make it a crime to do so, and so
there are multiple bills and I'm a co sponsor of
other bills to do that. That's a good idea. The
piece that is not reflected in any other legislation I
know of that's been filed is the take it down component,
which is the obligation on the social media company or

the big tech company to take the content down.

Speaker 1 (16:41):
And so well, and victims have said this to me,
and say this to you, is it's one thing that
someone does it. It's another thing when there's no mechanism
to take it down when you see it, when it's
being used against you. We saw this recently with a
doctor and nurses and they were used and they tried
to get it taken down, and they could get it
taken down. Like you just said, there's no incentive in

essence for these big tech comings to even care or
notice or respond to you.

Speaker 2 (17:11):
Well, look, that's exactly right. And as we all know,
this happened to Taylor Swift. So Taylor Swift, you had
people who took her image and made deep fake, false,
explicit images. And because Taylor Swift is a global superstar,
she spoke out and big tech took it all down.
So if you happen to be a global superstar, you

can get it taken down. But if you're just an
ordinary kid, you're powerless. And let me tell you a
story that really illustrates this. At the press conference we
did this week, we had victims and we had the
moms of victims who have been targeted by this who
came and joined us. And one of the victims was

this fourteen year old girl. And I mentioned that her
mom initially reached out to my office and she's a Texan.
When I sat down with the mom last week, she
expressed to me frustration. Last week she said, the images
are still up. Snapchat has left them up, and she said,

I've called repeatedly, I've emailed. I've tried to say, take
down these false images of my daughter. They're horrific, they're wrong,
and Snapchat basically said, go jump in a lake. She
got to run around, she couldn't talk to a human being.
She got referred over and over and over, and they're
still up. And I'm sitting there in my office and
I turned to my team and I said, that is garbage.
And I told my team, I said, I want us

to get on the phone with Snapchat today. And I
told my team, if need be, put me on the
phone with the CEO of Snapchat, and I told the
mom we are going to get this taken down within
twenty four hours. They took the images down now.

Speaker 1 (18:49):
But it took and this is the scary part. It
took someone getting a hold of you, yes, and then
having a United States from Texas to then call and
basically say I want to talk to the CEO to
get them to respond. The reality is the majority of

Americans are not going to be able to pull that off.

Speaker 2 (19:12):
And that's exactly important, and it shows its effortless. They
could do it instantaneously. They know how to pull it
down that they're just they're so unaccountable. There's such a
hubris and arrogance that they don't feel the need to respond.
So if you're a global superstar, you can get it
taken down. If you're able to get a member of

Congress to intervene on your behalf, maybe you can get
it taken down. But if you're just an ordinary teenager
in Texas who wakes up one day to the friggin'
nightmare of walking into eighth grade and every kid there
is looking at an image on their phone that appears
to be you doing explicit sexual activity, that is an

absolute nightmare. And right now, big tech acts within pure
unity this legislation. I think we're going to get this
legislation passed. It needs to be passed because you should
have a right to say, take this damn thing down,
and take it down now.

Speaker 1 (20:10):
So let's talk about what the big tech world is
going to respond with. And we've already seen this play.
They've said, well, look, this is a state issue. The
states should deal with this, and there's some states that
have there's i think over twenty states that have dealt
with this. But you guys are doing it differently from
a federal perspective, and that is where there's going to

be real teeth in the repercussions for those that don't
abide by this federal law that you guys.

Speaker 2 (20:36):
Are working to pass. Correct, Correct, and listen. We've talked
before about that. That's one of the benefits of my
role as the ranking member on the Senate Committee of Commerce, Science,
and Transportation. The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over about forty
percent of the US economy, and it is as the

ranking members the senior Republican, I may to drive legislation
like this, as you know. You know, the FA Reauthorization
Bill that was just signed a law a few weeks
ago was the one hundredth piece of legislation that I've
authored and passed into law. And from the Commerce Committee,
we have jurisdiction over big tech and so few things
focused the mind of an industry more than the government

with jurisdiction over that industry. And so states are acting
and I'm glad in the state of Texas has acted,
and that's important. But what we're not seeing is the
mechanism to require that the content being taken down and
actually we modeled it after existing federal legislation. When you're
dealing with a violation of trademarks or copyrights that you

have a right, you know, if you are Jimmy Hendrix.
And by the way, if you're Jimmy Hendrix, you're dead.
So I hope you're not Jimmy Hendrix. But if you're
Jimmy Hendrix or the estate of Jimmy Hendrix and someone
puts your content online, you have a right to say,
go take it down, because that's my content and I
own it. And so that's an existing legal mechanism in

the world of intellectual property, and we borrowed that model
for taking down non consensual intimate images. Now, I'll say
earlier or earlier this week, I was talking with an
editorial board of a major paper in Texas and they
were asking I think Devil's Advocate questions. But one of
the things they said is they said, well, what about

the First Amendment. Isn't there a First Amendment right to
do this? And I said, no, no, there's not. And
I said a couple of things. I said, Number One,
from the very beginning of the First Amendment, it has
never covered defamation. It's never covered libel or slander. And
so when you have false content that depicts someone in
a way that is defamatory, and intimate and sexual images

that are not you are by definition defamatory. That has
always been understood from from the very first days the
First Adment was adopted as not being within the protection
of the First Amendment. But secondly, the First Amendment free
speech protections have never covered the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

And so so if you engage and this is this
is connected to uh, connected to defamation. But but the
First Amendment does does not empower you to harass and
and and and exploit and abuse other people. And you
can be sued and liable for doing so. And it's
no defense to say, well, gosh, under the First Amendment,

I can say anything I want. That's not how how
our legal system works. And and and it's wise I said,
I think we are going to get this done. I
think we are likely to to get this legislation passed.
And when we do, it is going to be a
major protection for for for kids, UH and and and

and for Americans across the country, in Texas and across
the country.

Speaker 1 (23:58):
And that brings me, and that brings me this questues
and there are a lot of people, especially parents, grandparents,
are going to be listening and this is something they say, Hey,
this isn't Republican Democrat. And this is why I think
you guys are working so together with you and am
Kobachar on the others. You mentioned this is just an
issue of right and wrong. So what do they need
to do to make sure that their voice is heard,

especially if they're in favor of this.

Speaker 2 (24:21):
Yeah, look, speak out and make clear that this is
the right thing to do. Look, you and I are
both parents, if you could imagine the frustration and so
many parents listen dealing with big tech generally, and as
you know, this has been a passion of mine for
a long time. I've authored and supported multiple bills designed
to protect kids online. So a different bill that I

have is a bill called Cosma, where I've joined with
with Brian Shotts, who's a Democrat from Hawaii, and Cosma
would prohibit children under thirteen from being on social media
at all, so it would ban that across the board,
and then children under seventeen. It would prohibit big tech

from engaging in algorithmic boosting, which is the process that
they push content at teenagers. And as you know, big
tech in the pursuit of the dollar, pushes all sorts
of horrible content at our kids. They push substance abuse
and alcohol abuse, They push self harm, they push suicidal

ideation that they push body image, particularly for young girls,
all sorts of body image issues. We're seeing dramatically increasing
instances of depression, of anxiety. You know, the Surgeon General
under Joe Biden just wrote an op ed in the
New York Times decrying the risk to mental health from

social media of young people. The solution, or at least
part of the solution, I think, is the legislation I
have with Brian Shotts. It also includes another bill that
I've authored with John Fetterman, obviously other Democrat, called the
Eyes on the Board Bill, which says that any school
that receives federal funds, which is pretty much all of them,

is required to ban social media from their Wi Fi
on campus because kids on campus ought to be paying
attention to school and not on snapchat, Chat or Instagram
or something else. And what I will say on all
of these ben is, I literally don't know a parent

who is not scared, who is not frustrated about how
do you protect your kids online?

Speaker 1 (26:39):
It's shocking now it's scary. It's a wild West, and
there seems to be no real protections for children.

Speaker 2 (26:46):
And look, when you and I were kids, we didn't
deal with this. Now that this was not a world.
You know, when I was a teenager, my parents would
would have me. I'd like, you know, lay on the
floor on like the landline phone talking to my girlfriend
to one in the morning, and that was like as
much as you dealt with You now have these phones

that are these portals to just about everything evil in
the world, sexual predators, to bullies, to people just targeting
our kids. And you know what's interesting, Ben So in
the Senate, as you know, look, there are a lot
of people who are really damn old. I mean a
lot of my colleagues are their seventies or eighties or
even nineties, and I got to admit that my colleagues

that are of that generation are kind of a little
bit befuddled by this issue. They look at it and frankly,
you know, their kids weren't dealing with it when their
kids were children, and their grandkids are now, but they're
often less connected to it than they would be. And
what's interesting is the people that I'm joining with the

senators that are teaming up with me on this, both
Democrats and Republicans. Almost all of them are either in
their forties and fifties. They're younger senators, and almost all
of us have kids that are either teenagers or adolescents.
And almost to a person, if you're a parent and
you've got kids who are younger, so you're just starting
to face this, but I'm sure you're worried about it now,

and I promise you in five or ten years, you're
going to be terrified about it because every parent I
know is makes you.

Speaker 1 (28:21):
Share this podcast with your family and your friends. Please
write the five sorry of you. It helps us reach
new people, and I'll see you back here tomorrow
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