There’s been a lot of talk about social media sites censoring so-called “fake news” sites in the wake of November’s historic election. Sites like Facebook and Twitter, for example, have gone “ban-happy” by removing accounts of those associated with the “alt-right” and bans instituted over images of the U.S. flag. Why do these bans take place?
Many have been conditioned to believe that sites like Facebook and Twitter are private companies and can therefore do whatever they wish. It’s true these are private companies but that has nothing to do with these bans.
There are two primary reasons these sites do what they do. The first is legal, the second is philosophical.
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In 1996, Congress passed the Communications Decency Act, a measure signed into law by the president. In 2014, a federal judge ruled that Section 230 of that law gives sites like Facebook the power to censor even Constitutionally-protected speech with no legal consequences. This is discussed in great detail in “Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad,” a book written by myself and Adina Kutnicki, an investigative journalist based in Israel.
What are the results of this law? Consider:
- One person was told her profile picture of a lilac tree was considered “pornographic.”
- Another user was told a photo of a 2012 Donald Trump campaign button violated Facebook’s rules on nudity. The photo only showed Trump’s face.
- Yours truly was given a 30-day ban after Facebook said a photo of an eagle superimposed on a U.S. flag violated their community standards.
- One page administrator was handed a 30-day ban over an anti-Hillary video.
- In 2015, yours truly was repeatedly banned over comments and posts that were forged to appear as though I made them.
- The popular 2 Million Bikers to DC page was torn down over an innocuous comment by a page administrator.
- Earlier in 2016, Facebook said a post supporting gender-specific restrooms violates their “community standards” and removed a page advocating safe and private locker rooms.
This is just a tiny sampling of incidents related to Facebook that we’ve covered. There are many, many more.
The second reason, as I mentioned above, is philosophical.
Many of these companies are run by leftists. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is well known for his support of liberal causes. As for Twitter, Breitbart noted:
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s political biases have been prevalent on the platform for years, constantly bending the social media services rules for those whose political views align with his own, while harshly punishing their political opponents.
A perfect example of this is Twitters open support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Jack Dorsey enjoys a remarkably close relationship with leading Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson. Dorsey and McKesson have been close friends for years now, with Twitter even directly donating to McKesson’s failed Baltimore mayoral campaign. More recently, the pair shared the stage at Recode’s annual tech conference, conducting a joint Q&A on Twitter.
As for Google, the Washington Times reported:
“The question is, ‘Is Google biased?’ And that’s not the answer Google provided — it’s that the system, the algorithm, is not biased,” Mr. Schneider said. “But we know that Google itself is in the tank for [President] Obama, has been in the tank for Obama and is now in the tank for Hillary Clinton, and there’s good reason for that. From their perspective, they want to pursue as liberal policies as possible across the spectrum.”
To reinforce the point, Bloomberg reported that Google is now looking for someone to serve as a “conservative outreach” manager:
The Alphabet Inc. unit posted a job listing for a manager of “conservative outreach” on its policy team 10 days after the election. The company is searching for a Washington veteran to “tell Google’s story in an elevator or from a podium,” according to the description on Google’s career website.
“As a member of Google’s Public Policy outreach team, you will act as Google’s liaison to conservative, libertarian and free market groups,” the listing reads. “You are part organizer, part advocate and part policy wonk as you understand the world of third-party non-governmental advocacy organizations.”
Of course, this is America, and these CEOs have the right to support whatever candidate or whatever ideology they want. The problem, however, is that these biases appear to seep into the way these companies operate.
The end result is that conservatives end up getting the short end of the stick.
So what’s the answer? Sure, users can cut and run, but that doesn’t really solve anything. At some point, you’re going to run out of places to hide.
The bottom line is that Congress needs to act. It can start by amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
- Facebook: U.S. flag violates community standards, earns user 30-day ban
- Breitbart: Facebook now ‘the world’s most dangerous censor’
- Facebook yanks popular conservative pro-Trump page, falsely claims content doesn’t follow ‘standards’
- Polish patriots burn Facebook flags to protest censorship — Video
- Facebook bans Allen West Republic page admin over anti-Hillary video
And if you’re as concerned about Facebook censorship as we are, go here and order this new book: