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By Michael W. Chapman, CNSNews, April 16, 2018
(CNSNews.com) — A new report by the Media Research Center (MRC) documents how the major social media sites — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube — and the Google search engine suppress conservative speech in a “clear effort to censor the conservative worldview from the public conversation.”
When asked about this censorship by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on April 10, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified that his company “and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place,” and added that he did not know whether content from liberal groups, such as Planned Parenthood and MoveOn.org, had ever been restricted on Facebook.
These multi-billion dollar online media companies, which reach more than 1.8 billion people worldwide, have declared war on the conservative movement, states the MRC report, and “conservatives are losing — badly.” If “the right doesn’t fight,” states the report, “it is doomed — online and off. This is more than just a free speech battle. It is a struggle for the future of our nation and our world.”
In the detailed, 50-page report, CENSORED! How Online Media Companies Are Suppressing Conservative Speech, authors Ashley Rae Goldenberg and Dan Gainor examine how Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google suppress conservative content online, provide numerous examples of the suppression (and censorship), and then provide recommendations for the tech companies.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (YouTube)
Twitter “leads in censorship,” according to the report. It “regularly suppresses conservative points-of-view.”
The $21.60 billion company manages about 6,000 tweets every second from people all over the world, and it is the go-to site for journalists. Twitter’s CEO is Jack Dorsey. He is extremely left-wing politically and he recently promoted an article from Medium to his 4.2 million Twitter followers that said America is in a “new civil war,” liberal vs. conservative, and there is no compromise, only one side must win.
The CENSORED! report documents how Twitter staffers admitted on hidden camera that they censor conservatives through “shadow banning.” With this technique, Twitter users “think their content is getting seen widely, but it’s not,” reads the report. “The site also restricts pro-life ads from Live Action and even Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), but allows Planned Parenthood advertisements.”
Twitter hid some conservative-related hashtags during the 2016 election, such as #PodestaEmails and #DNCLeak, said the MRC. Twitter has also marked some tweets from the Drudge Report as “sensitive.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. (YouTube)
Twitter uses a “Trust and Safety Council” to provide policy input to the company. This council is comprised of 25 U.S.-based organizations, 12 of which are liberal and only one of which is conservative, according to the report. “[S]ome of its most liberal members include the Anti-Defamation League, GLAAD, and other organizations that have attacked conservatives and their opinions or values,” said authors Goldenberg and Gainor.
“Voices are being silenced, opinions are being censored and conservative media are being suppressed,” said MRC President Brent Bozell in a statement. “These tech companies claim they provide platforms to connect people and share ideas. However, when the only ideas permitted are from one side, any prospect of intellectual discourse dies.”
“If these platforms merely serve as an echo chamber of liberal talking points, everyone loses,” he said. “Our country is divided and limiting free speech only makes matters worse.”
Facebook has 1.4 billion daily users and has a corporate worth of $477.93 billion. It is the third most popular social media site in the United States and in the world. Facebook’s CEO, Zuckerberg, is also politically left-wing. According to the report, Zuckerberg supports DACA, defended Black Lives Matter, and advocated for homosexual marriage.
Facebook employees “donated overwhelmingly to support Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign over Donald Trump’s,” reads the report. “Facebook employees even lobbied to remove Trump’s posts for violating the site’s ‘hate speech’ standards.”
According to the report., former Facebook employees told Gizmodo that “topics such as the Conservative Political Action Conference, Mitt Romney and Ted Cruz were reportedly suppressed, along with links to sites including the Washington Examiner and Breitbart.” The company also banned the private sale of guns on its site and reportedly has sought to “censor discussion of firearms.” Former employees also stated that Facebook hid conservative content from its “trending” section.
Facebook removed a comical post by conservative Todd Starnes and only later restored it, apologizing for the alleged error.
Facebook, along with Twitter, YouTube, and Google, utilizes the work of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to identify “hate” groups and then suppress or remove them from its platform. According to the report, “Over time, Facebook deleted the pages of at least 57 groups at the behest of the SPLC.”
The SPLC frequently targets conservative and Christian individuals or groups because they oppose, for instance, gay marriage or radical Islam. The Family Research Council, for instance, has been labeled a “hate” group by the SPLC because it defends the Biblical definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
Testifying before the Senate on April 10, Zuckerberg was asked by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) to explain his company’s definition of “hate speech,” which Facebook uses to monitor and suppress certain content. Zuckerberg did not answer the question directly but said it was a “really hard question” and that “we struggle with it.”
YouTube, the most popular video-sharing platform in the world, “censors conservatives and conservative content,” according to the report. YouTube apparently is always on the watch for “hate speech” and relies on the anti-conservative SPLC as a “Trusted Flagger” to tag videos that violate content standards. YouTube moderators, for instance, took down conservative gun channels, reported Bloomberg, and the site has banned “videos that provide links to sites where people can purchase guns and gun accessories,” said the MRC’s Goldenberg and Gainor.
CENSORED! report co-author
Dan Gainor. (MRC)
PragerU, which posts myriad videos on conservative topics, saw its videos restricted by YouTube. PragerU is now suing YouTube. Back in 2006, YouTube removed a video of conservative Michelle Malkin criticizing radical Islam but then reposted it after the New York Times criticized the censorship.
In YouTube is a $75 billion company and it is owned by Google, which has a corporate worth of $715.65 billion.
The Google website, with its popular search engine, is ranked as the No. 1 website in the world. Millions of people use its search engine every day. They may assume that the search engine is non-partisan, says the MRC report, but “Google has suppressed conservative points-of-view within the company and in its own search results.”
For instance, three separate studies have confirmed that search engine results on Google “favored liberal sites or liberal candidates during the 2016 presidential election,” said the report. For awhile (since discontinued), Google “posted fact-checks of conservative sites but not their liberal counterparts,” according to the MRC report, “making the conservative sites appear less reliable.”
After Google engineer James Damore wrote an internal memo criticizing the company’s “Ideological Echo Chamber,” he was fired.
Numerous other examples of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google suppressing (and censoring) content posted by conservatives are detailed in 35 pages of appendices in the CENSORED! report.
CENSORED! report project lead Ashley Rae
In its recommendations for these tech firms, the report calls on the companies to be truly diverse in their hiring and bring in conservatives and also “eliminate policies and biases that discriminate against conservatives.” The companies also need to provide transparency when it comes to restrictions on content — let people see what was removed and why. The companies should stop partnering with anti-conservative groups, such as the SPLC and ADL because they are not neutral. In addition, the tech giants need to steer clear of left-leaning “fact checkers” such as Snopes.com and PolitiFact.com.
At the same time, the tech firms need to publish clear guidelines in support of free speech online. “Algorithms, content guidelines and ad policies must be designed that don’t target political speech,” reads the report. “Firms must stop pretending disagreement is equivalent to hate speech. Fairness and transparency are equally essential.”
“Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the social media giants must allow political expression from both conservative and liberal voices,” said the MRC’s Bozell. “Just last week, Mark Zuckerberg told Congress that he is working to ensure Facebook is ‘a platform for all ideas.’ This report is evidence that what little effort they have made is not nearly enough.”
“Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube must make real, concrete changes to guarantee conservative voices receive a fair shake,” he said. “We cannot allow our thoughts and ideas to be barred from the global public conversation.”
Ashley Rae Goldenberg was the project lead for the report. Dan Gainor is the vice president of Business and Culture at the MRC. To learn more about the report, click here.