Things That Matter

Now That Cuba Has Allowed Social Media Access, Government Officials Are Blocking Those Who Criticize Them

While internet access is still relatively new in Cuba, there has already been some controversy when it comes to citizens criticizing public officials online. According to the Miami Herald, Twitter users have seen some of their profiles and comments regarding government officials blocked or removed altogether. Twitter users took to social media to voice their concern about having their voices and comments silenced by public officials.

Limited internet access in Cuba began in 2008 but it wasn’t until last December when mobile phones became readily available.

Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel promoted the idea of having a platform where Cuban officials and regular citizens could interact. With such a relatively new technology at the hands of public officials, they have swayed away from criticism. With internet access and Wi-Fi hotspots just becoming accessible to all on the island, many are getting their feet wet when it comes to social media. That includes government and public officials.

Jovann Silva Delgado, a Cuban lawyer who lives in the U.S, was recently blocked online by José Ramón Cabañas, the ambassador of Cuba in Washington. Silva says he was blocked by Cabañas because he criticized a protest last year initiated by the Cuban delegation at the United Nations.

“Beyond the political position of a public official, who holds a post presumably supported by voters, the social media networks of officials are to give an account of their management, which is paid with everyone’s money,” Silva told the Miami Herald.

This issue has been happening to multiple people trying to interact with public officials in Cuba.

Another user, Norges Rodríguez, founder of YucaByte, an online project on communication technology, said he was blocked. Rodríguez found out he was blocked by Jorge Luis Perdomo, minister of communications in Cuba, after trying to mention him in a tweet.

“Well, today I tried to mention the minister [of communications] in a tweet and I found out that I am blocked. I think I was respectful the last time I mentioned him,“ Rodríguez said in a tweet.

The Inventory project, a repository of open data for Cuba, is trying to list the names of Cuban officials who block citizens on social media.

The Inventory Project, invited users who have been blocked by public officials to give info on who blocked them to create a larger database. The Twitter profile asked users to provide a tweet with the the name of the user, the person who blocked, the date and a screenshot of the message that was blocked.

There has already been a long list of officials who have been reported for blocking citizens. Among them are National Assembly member Mariela Castro, daughter of former president Raúl Castro and Juan Antonio Fernández, ambassador of Cuba in Austria.

Just last May, a U.S. judge banned public officials from blocking those who criticize them online.

In the U.S., it’s a complete different story when it comes to citizens criticizing public officials. Last May, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said that officials like President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment when he blocked Twitter users who criticized him. The ruling was a victory for free speech and a harsh rebuke to Trump’s effort to prevent his critics from engaging with him on social media.

While there has been no law or ruling similar in Cuba, you can only expect some kind of action to be taken eventually. Social media interactions between citizens and public officials is still relatively new in Cuba but that gives no excuse to silence voices. Especially those trying to create public dialogue with leaders and government officials.

READ: Here’s A Brief Look At The History Of The Cuban People And The Island They Call Home

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An Old Video Of To TV Hosts Debating Whether The Moon Is A Planet Or A Star Has Twitter Twisted

Things That Matter

An Old Video Of To TV Hosts Debating Whether The Moon Is A Planet Or A Star Has Twitter Twisted

To be a star or a planet? That is the question.

Or at least, it was The Question that made heads roll a few years ago and has begun to do again thanks to a revival of an old video.

Six years ago, in 2015 a QVC segment went viral after designer Isaac Mizrahi and his co-host Shawn Killinger got into a heated debate about whether the moon was a star or a planet. Little did they know that the moon, well, it’s actually just a moon.

Now, six years later, the old segment is making waves again.

Mizrahi and Killinger started the strange debate in a clip that is surfacing again on Twitter.

The clip starts out with Killinger holding up a shirt made of green, white, and blue colors before declaring, “This is what we call emerald, but really it’s more of a seafoam.” She then goes onto point out that “it almost kinda looks like what the earth looks like when you’re a bazillion miles away from the planet moon.”

Then in the familiar way that we’ve all done after realizing we might have made a mistake, Shawn mutters the phrase again, contemplating. “The planet moon.”

Not picking up on her hesitations, Isaac agrees “The planet moon.” Copping to her mistake, Shawn asks “Isn’t the moon a star?”

“The moon is a planet, darling,” Isaac replies before pulling his co-host into a sixty-two-second-long debate in which Isaac insists the moon is a planet. “The moon is such a planet I can’t even stand it,” he even declares at one point. In reaction, Shawn attempts to support her argument by going through the planets in our solar system. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get very far and names Earth, Uranus, Saturn, and “the one with the rings.”

This is when Shawn then comes to the conclusion that the Sun is a star too but Isaac quickly replies that “We don’t know what the sun is” meaning that “us” as in the whole world doesn’t know.

The whole thing is only resolved once someone off-camera confirms what most of us all already know, the moon is not a star, a planet, but a natural satellite.

Much to Shawn and Isaac’s chagrin of course.

“A natural satellite? What’s that mean? I don’t like that at all,” Shawn asks suspiciously. “A natural satellite,” Isaac replies, adding. “But things live on it. That means it’s a planet.”

Fortunately, the hosts move on with the show to sell their shirts, but fans on Twitter have yet to forget.

Someone even animated the entire sequence.

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Ted Cruz and Seth Rogen Are Currently In the Twitter Feud to End All Twitter Feuds

Things That Matter

Ted Cruz and Seth Rogen Are Currently In the Twitter Feud to End All Twitter Feuds

Photos via Getty Images

You may be familiar with the actor Seth Rogen, the burly comedian who has starred in hit films like “Knocked Up” and “Neighbors”. Well, it appears that Rogen is about the only person in the world who is able to get under Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s skin.

Since last Wednesday, the two Canadians have been embattled in an expletive-filled, eyebrow-raising Twitter feud.

It all started when Ted Cruz tweeted a criticism of the brand new Biden administration, saying because President Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, he’s “more interested in the views of the citizens of Paris than in the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh”.

To which Seth Rogen eloquently responded: “F–k off you fascist.”

Normally, bigtime lawmakers ignore the public criticisms of celebrities, but this time, Senator Cruz couldn’t help but take the bait. He screenshotted Rogen’s response and commented about it on his Twitter account.

“Charming, civil, educated response,” Sen. Cruz said. “If you’re a rich, angry Hollywood celebrity, today’s Dems are the party for you. If you’re blue-collar, if you’re a union member, if you work in energy or manufacturing…not so much.”

At this point, Rogen took the time to respond: “If you’re a white supremacist fascist who doesn’t find it offensive when someone calls your wife ugly, Ted Cruz is the exact motherfucker for you.” He then added later: “Also I’m in four unions.”

And the debacle just got more intense from there. Cruz responded by calling Rogen a “moron” and saying that the Democratic party believes in the government power to “shut your business, to oppress your faith & to censor your speech.” And added: “Anyone who disagrees, they try to cancel.”

The plot got even thicker, with Rogen doubling down on his claims, this time calling Sen. Cruz a “fascist piece of s–t” with the topper: “Your lies got people killed. You have blood on your hands.”

And in the most bizarre turn of events, the so-called feud (a label that Rogen takes exception to) took an odd detour when the two men began to argue about…Disney’s “Fantasia”?

In an unrelated tweet, Cruz told his Twitter followers that the first film he saw in theatres was “Fantasia”, to which Rogen responded: “Everyone who made that film would hate you.” (Okay, you had to have laughed a little bit, right??)

Ever the one to get the last word in (and apparently having nothing better to do than argue with an actor on the internet?), Sen. Cruz tweeted out: “They’re all dead. So I think we’re good. And Walt Disney was a Republican. Even though you behave online like a Marxist with Tourette’s (screaming “F U! F U!” is really, really clever), your movies are typically pretty funny. I’m sure you hate that I enjoy them.”

To which Rogen revealed that he actually does, indeed, have a mild form of Tourette’s syndrome that just causes twitching, not swearing (plot twist?)

He also chastised Cruz for making light of the syndrome that afflicts many people–including people in Rogen’s family.

And of course, a public Twitter spat wouldn’t be a public Twitter spat without other bloodthirsty spectators jumping into the fray.

Like failed Pennsylvania congressional candidate Dean Browning, who tried to burn Rogen by asking why a “Canadian is so deeply obsessed with American men like @TedCruz”. The “obvious explanation” being that “#SethRogenLovesTedCruz”. Because homophobic jokes are so clever.

Seth Rogen took this as the perfect opportunity to educate Mr. Browning on the little-known birthplace of Senator Cruz. He tweeted: “Ted Cruz is Canadian you stupid f–k.” Well said.

To read the entire, sprawling Twitter exchange, head over to Seth Rogen’s Twitter account. You won’t be disappointed.

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