New initiative exposes censorship of Christians, conservatives by Facebook, Twitter

On Thursday, the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) launched an initiative to expose censorship of Christian and conservative speech online by tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Apple, WND reported.

According to WND:

The initiative has established a website, InternetFreedomWatch.org, to document cases, including Twitter’s removal of an ad by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., in October and Facebook’s removal of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s post supporting Chick-fil-A in 2012.

NRB, which has published a chart with more than 30 instances of Internet censorship, said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and a former Federal Communications Commission commissioner have endorsed the effort.

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Jerry A. Johnson, NRB’s president and CEO, pointed out at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington that NRB was founded in 1944 in response to corporate censorship of evangelical radio ministries.

He said the group now wants to address “those who desire to expunge opposing viewpoints from the marketplace of ideas by recklessly using nebulous terms like ‘hate speech.’”

“As critical a communication platform as radio was in 1944, in today’s public square, the internet is a dominant — perhaps the most dominant — platform for the exchange of ideas. Chillingly, a growing censorship of Christian and politically conservative viewpoints on the internet is happening in America and across the globe. Major players in Silicon Valley with enormous influence over what is seen on the internet and on social media platforms are suppressing viewpoints that run counter to their preferred ideologies,” the site’s “About” page says.

“In response to this new threat of censorship of ideas, National Religious Broadcasters has launched Internet Freedom Watch, a new initiative to bring greater attention to these threats, challenge Silicon Valley to uniformly practice its professed commitment to free speech, and explore possible public policy options that may exist to address the loss of internet freedom. Internet Freedom Watch is an expansion of NRB’s pioneering work in establishing the John Milton Project for Free Speech in 2011, which first raised concerns about internet censorship and urged Silicon Valley to adopt the Free Speech Charter for the Internet, a model to serve the interests of both free speech and free enterprise,” the site adds.

Tech giants received a letter from NRB urging dialogue and a resolution to the threats against religious freedom, WND reported.

The organization also wants Congress to hold hearings on the “severe problem of viewpoint censorship on the Internet.”

“It is unacceptable for these titans to discriminate against users just because their viewpoints are not congruent with ideas popular in Silicon Valley,” Johnson said.

WND added:

The NRB chief emphasized his organization is not yet calling for new laws or regulations but insists the issue must be addressed.

Cruz was part of a panel discussion led by Johnson, along with former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell; Craig Strazzeri, chief marketing officer for PragerU, a victim of internet censorship; and evangelical leader Ralph Reed, chairman and CEO of Century Strategies.

In a recent case noted by Internet Freedom Watch, PJ Media D.C. editor Bridget Johnson was suspended from Twitter with no warning or explanation. PM Media reported Monday it had been nearly a week since the suspension and Twitter had offered no reason for the move.

The site also includes a timeline showing incidents of viewpoint discrimination on the Internet dating back to 2010, noting that the list is “not exhaustive.”

Indeed.  Yours truly has documented literally hundreds of incidents since 2011, first at the now-defunct Examiner.com, and now here at the Conservative Firing Line.

In 2015, Facebook targeted this writer multiple times with forged posts, falsely claiming I had posted them.  Others were also slapped for the exact same posts, formatted to appear as though they had posted them.  That seven-month trip into Facebook hell inspired “Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad,” co-authored with Adina Kutnicki.

What makes the situation worse is that sites like Facebook and Twitter have no problem with leftists advocating murder on their sites while censoring conservative and anti-terrorist content.

In August, for example, Facebook said it had absolutely no problem with a black nationalist post advocating the mass murder of Trump supporters.  Meanwhile, the social media giant punished a user for complaining about a death threat from an Islamist.

Now, in an alleged effort to combat so-called “fake news,” tech giants are censoring and demonetizing conservative content.

Earlier this month, WND’s Joseph Farah said all independent media are “facing an existential threat at the hands of the Google-Facebook cartel.”

He explained:

…Google and Facebook are truly monopolies under the spell of left-wing sensibilities. There’s no other way to say it. They penalize those entities producing content they don’t like – no matter how large their audiences might be. They even shortchange those independent publishers on referral traffic.

One could argue these monster corporations have a “right” to do that, but only if you support monopoly capitalism, ironically an idea so-called “progressives” find theoretically repulsive.

One of the highest ideals both Google and Facebook say they uphold is “diversity.” But the diversity genie seems to take a backseat when it comes to the most important kind of diversity in a free society – diverse viewpoints.

Clearly, something needs to be done.  As Adina and I explained in Banned, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 needs to be amended to give content creators some level of protection from social media censorship.

There’s more.  Perhaps it’s time Congress start regulating Big Social Media like public utilities.

Public pressure also works — at least to a point.

Social media users who have been unfairly targeted by sites like Facebook and Twitter can share their experiences with the Initiative by submitting their stories here.

They can also help by electing representatives who actually support free speech and the First Amendment.

Let’s face it — we live in a dream world if we think our rights are protected simply because they’re engraved on a parchment somewhere in Washington, D.C.


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Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad
Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad – Source: Author (used with permission)


Joe Newby

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe ran for a city council position in Riverside, Calif., in 1991 and managed successful campaigns for the Idaho state legislature. Co-author of "Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad," Joe wrote for Examiner.com from 2010 until it closed in 2016 and his work has been published at Newsbusters, Spokane Faith and Values and other sites. He now runs the Conservative Firing Line.

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