The Coming Storm: Big Tech Bias & Social Media Censorship of Conservatives
The internet has changed humanity forever. Our world looks almost indistinguishable from our parents’ or grandparents’ world. Politics, relationships, religion and work are all fundamentally changed. To have a public voice, you must be online.
America’s 2020 Presidential election will be one of the most contentious and divisive events in modern American political history. Turnout will be high on both sides of the aisle. The political partisanship of “Republican” vs. “Democrat” will be the established routine, but this election will be deeper than old parties and caucuses. It will be a national decision between two opposing visions for America’s future.
The first view in a nutshell: America is a generally good place with immense opportunity. If you work hard, you can achieve more than your parents – regardless of ethnicity, race or religion. We should have respect for the flag, our military and law enforcement. Capitalism is good for Americans and has lifted humanity out of poverty. America has the right to secure its borders. Deregulation of industry is good for the economy and development of technological innovation. America has been great and we want to return it to the inspiration and ideals of our founding. AKA “Make America Great Again.”
The second view: America is generally a bad place in need of reform. Americans are racist and have been implicit in evil. Our country is the cause for everything bad in the world. Success is predicated on your skin color: if you are white you benefit from “white privilege” – guaranteeing you success in endeavors that are not available to people of color. The wealthy do not deserve their money and we need to raise taxes on the rich to fix “income inequality.” We need to regulate business because they exploit the environment and workers. America was never great. We need to fundamentally change the nation.
The story that best captures the imagination of the American public will take power one year from November.
But what if one side of the story is hidden, banned and censored? I believe there is a massive effort right now trying to prevent President Trump from winning re-election. One method they are trying to use is the censorship of influential conservative voices. 2020 could bring banning and censorship on a scale we have not yet seen.
I am NOT a conspiracy theorist. I am simply looking and the trends, data and personal reports to guess what will happen. Read this article, look at the evidence, and decide for yourself.
This article is organized into three main sections:
- Internal bias in Big Tech exposed by Project Veritas
- Social Media Censorship of right-wing voices
- Solutions going forward in 2020
Big Tech Bias: Project Veritas
The story of censorship begins with a nonprofit organization trying to expose bias in tech & media. Project Veritas was founded by James O’Keefe, a journalist. His company uses undercover investigation and whistleblowers in tech to expose the inner workings of giant tech companies.
Veritas has done many stories over the course of its existence. There are many that would suffice as examples, but I will only touch on a few.
In June of 2019, a software engineer from Pinterest came forward to Veritas to expose internal censorship of pro-life and Christian content on its platform. He leaked documents, Slack messages and internal policies. One particular ban was on a pro-life, non-profit organization called Live Action. Pinterest labeled Live Action’s links and content as “pornography” in order to keep it from being posted. A screen capture of the internal command to place Live Action on the blocked list was provided to Veritas.
The search term “Christian” is being blocked from auto-complete on the site. A list of “Sensitive Safe Terms” was provided to Veritas by the insider. Terms related to “Christian Easter” and “Bible verses” were marked as “unsafe.”
Also placed on the list were prominent conservative commentators such as Ben Shapiro and Candace Owens. They are considered by Pinterest to have “white supremacist” views, and thus need to be censored and monitored.
After this information came to light, Live Action was permanently suspended on Pinterest. The video of O’Keefe’s interview with the whistleblower was taken down by YouTube and banned.
Project Veritas released an undercover video featuring Google executive Jen Gennai. She was filmed in a conversation, stating her team was working on ways to avoid the “next Trump situation.” She said, “We all got screwed over in 2016, again it wasn’t just us, it was, the people got screwed over, the news media got screwed over, like, everybody got screwed over so we’re rapidly been like, what happened there and how do we prevent it from happening again.” She added, “We’re also training our algorithms, like, if 2016 happened again, would we have, would the outcome be different?”
After this video was released, YouTube banned the video and Reddit banned Veritas’s account.
Veritas has also published a variety of leaked internal documents and whistleblowers on the inner workings of Google.
Below are short excerpts of leaks from Google:
- Over 1,000 Google employees co-signed a letter to target conservative news source Breitbart as “prohibited content.” The letter calls for the removal of Breitbart from AdSense (which allows Breitbart to advertise on third party sites).
- A document coordinating left-wing political protest was passed through an internal group. Signs that were suggested including “Resist,” “No Ban No Wall,” “#NoMuslimBan” and “#NoWall.” Suggested chants included “From Palestine to Mexico, All the walls have got to go.” Google executive Jen Gennai stated in response that Google is a “trustworthy source of information, without regard to political viewpoint . . . Google has no notion of political ideology in its rankings.”
Veritas published an internal Google memo containing a list of blocked terms in the YouTube search box. This came ahead of Irish elections, which had a referendum on Ireland’s 8th Amendment. This amendment recognized the right to life of unborn children. It was successfully repealed.
Search terms that were blocked included “abortion is barbaric,” “abortion is wrong,” “abortion increases the risk of miscarriage” and dozens more.
Veritas published documents obtained from an insider containing computer code designed to “deboost” a page’s content. Facebook’s content moderators have the ability to throttle a video’s visibility from news feeds, remove sharing features, and mute notifications. This can all be done at an individual employee level.
Also released were proposed tactics outlined by Facebook engineers of how to deal with “troll operations.” Facebook would enact these “special features” “leading up to important elections.” Accounts deemed “troll accounts” can have their internet bandwidth limited and experience glitches like forced “auto-logouts” and failed upload of comments.
What constitutes a troll you may ask? They are identified by vocabulary, who they are friends with and the behavior in which they engage. The issue is that there is no accountability or recourse for being labeled a “troll.” This system could easily be abused to target conservatives ahead of the 2020 elections.
Social Media Censoring Right-wing Voices
Reddit is a social media platform based around communities (called subreddits) based on a specific subject. For example, if you enjoy everything about baseball, there is a subreddit called r/baseball. If you work in accounting, there is a community called r/accounting. Each topic is moderated by volunteer mods who have an interest in the subject and likely founded the subreddit.
“The_Donald” is the largest conservative, pro-Trump subreddit on the website. Boasting over 750,000 subscribers, it was known to be influential in the election of President Trump. Campaign staff interact on the account, including now campaign manager Brad Parscale. A range of topics are discussed, from policy prescriptions, political memes and shared social media content.
In late June of 2019, Reddit “quarantined” The_Donald. A “quarantine” is where Reddit admins make the subreddit invisible to non-subscribers (therefore removing it from Google searches). Certain key features are disabled. Historically, a quarantine is the first step to a full ban.
Reddit admins claimed the quarantine was in reaction to a single “threat of violence” on the subreddit that was quickly removed and condemned by moderators. Admins still chose to quarantine and the moderators are currently lobbying the admins to reinstate the subreddit.
The hypocrisy of the situation lies in the content of other subreddits. Left-wing subreddits are consistently calling for violence against conservatives and Republicans. The admins do not take action against these accounts.
Members of The_Donald created a thirty page document containing instances of left wing calls to violence on Reddit, with no moderation or admin action taken. The link can be found here.
Twitter is not even handed when it comes to suspending individuals on their platform – even though publicly, they state political neutrality. Joe Rogan, a huge YouTube star and interviewer, spoke with twice with Jack Dorsey on his podcast. Each time, Jack expressed his interest in maintaining a platform that “gives as many people as possible the opportunity to freely express themselves”. I personally don’t think Jack is ill-intentioned against conservatives, but operates in an environment that discriminates against right-wing thought.
Three things about Jack:
a) he is not unfamiliar with conservative viewpoints. He mentioned in the podcast he grew up in the Midwest with his dad listening to Rush Limbaugh.
b) his company is located in a massively progressive area. This means his staff & employees are uniformly progressive – which has an effect on the direction of guidelines and content.
c) he listens to his staff and employees . . . a lot.
An excellent case study was done by Richard Hanania over at Quillette on Twitter’s treatment of conservatives.
He found there were very few suspensions of prominent political voices prior to 2015, either conservative or liberal. However, after 2016 the number of prominent suspensions spiked. Of the 22 politically active individuals who have been suspended, 21 supported Donald Trump.
Some of the suspensions may have been justified based on Twitters rules. People break rules on a social media platform, both left and right. But this is the point. How is it possible people like Milo Yiannopoulos and James Woods are banned for tweeting jokes – when leftists like Kathy Griffin are allowed to stay. Griffin has posted photos of herself holding a mock, bloodied head of President Trump on Twitter – no suspension. She has called for the doxing of Covington high school kids on Twitter for supporting Trump. No suspension. Both Yiannopoulos and Woods never came close to this level of rhetoric.
Oh and by the way, the terrorist organization Hamas allowed to have an active, official Twitter page.
Facebook and Instagram
In early May of 2019, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer and Paul Joseph Watson were banned from Facebook & Instagram. Any groups or links posting content related to Alex Jones or Infowars (the website he runs) will be forcibly removed according to Facebook.
I personally don’t agree with all the viewpoints of Jones, Yinnopoulos, Loomer or Watson, but don’t they deserve a voice? Why is having a certain viewpoint on politics grounds for lifetime censorship?
Solutions Going Forward
I believe we will see an increase in the number of influential conservatives voices censored as we near election day 2020. Big tech, social media companies and the Democrats have demonstrated their distain for conservative opinions. They do not debate opposing ideas – they silence opposing ideas.
What is the solution going forward? Conservatives all agree censorship is a problem, but have different ideas as to what will fix the problem.
Debate on Government Intervention
Commentators like Ben Shapiro are wary of government intervention into social media companies. He is worried once we give the too much government power over private companies. Republicans will not always hold the Presidency and Congress, so when Democrats take control, they would likely abuse the process.
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MI) has a different take. He believes social media is today’s version of the “public square” and these companies need to be fair in their treatment of viewpoints. Hawley has introduced the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act that would crack down on social media censorship. The legislation would periodically audit large social media companies. If regulators found bias in content moderation or programmed algorithms, they would lose Section 230 immunity (which classifies platforms as platforms rather than publishers, allowing companies to avoid being sued for content).
Support Independent Platforms and Websites
Funding conservatives and pro-free speech companies. There are many independent conservative platforms we can fund and participate in.
Here are a couple great businesses and platforms to support:
- Louder with Crowder Mug Club: a daily conservative comedy & political commentary late night show. YouTube has banned and demonetized much of their content, so the way they make money is through listeners subscribing to Mug Club. Their podcast is also available on iTunes. Check them out here. Only $69/year for students, Vets and military.
- Daily Wire: great site for podcasts, news and events. Run by the great Ben Shapiro. Subscription to support is $9.99/month or $99/year. Check it out here.
- Parler: a social media app dedicated to free speech. Available for free on iTunes.
- Thinkspot: Jordan Peterson is in the process of developing a content creation & monetization platform also dedicated to free, open speech. It’s in beta development right now, but will become available to the public in the future.
There are more platforms, but these are a few I would suggest supporting.
If you follow a conservative voice on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram – take time to visit their website and bookmark it. Suspensions and bans happen quickly. If they are a smaller voice, they can disappear without anyone noticing.
Stay Up to Date on Censorship Developments
Social media and Big Tech companies do not want this narrative being talked about. Independent news sources & voices that have been covering censorship include:
- The Daily Caller
- The Daily Wire
- Tim Pool
- Steven Crowder
- David French
By staying informed, it prevents the outcome these companies want: to sweep the issue under the rug.
Stay involved in what is going on. The most powerful voice conservatives will have in 2020 is individual, de-centralized voices. Speak out. Your voice matters.
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