White House petition calls for Internet Bill of Rights as report shows conservative sites hit hardest by censorship

A petition posted to the White House “We the People” website on Sunday calls for government action to end the censorship many conservatives have experienced on large social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  The petition was published one day prior to a report at The Outline which seems to prove that conservative sites are hit much harder than so-called “mainstream media” outlets.

The petition, which can be seen here, reads:

Internet forums and social networks which provide free access to the public are a digital place of assembly, and individuals using such methods for public communication should not be subjected to censorship due to political beliefs or differing ideas. Conservative voices on many large public website platforms are being censored, based solely on a differing opinion. Some of these platforms further employ tracking mechanisms for monitoring an individual’s digital history, which can be used to censor the individual’s public communication through various censorship practices, sometimes without knowledge or awareness. These actions directly violate personal liberty and stand at contrast with the bill of rights.

“We the people demand action to bring our digital future into the light,” the petition concludes.

Is there really something to this?

There’s lots of anecdotal evidence, like this post at the Activist Mommy, which would certainly suggest it’s a much bigger problem than we’ve been led to believe.

According to the Activist Mommy:

Here at Activist Mommy, we are no strangers to censorship. Elizabeth has had her posts flagged and taken down from Facebook and Twitter on multiple occasions, been temporarily suspended from both of these social networks, and she’s had her YouTube videos censored.

She is also hardly alone. Conservative influencers across all the major social media networks have been experiencing biased discrimination and had their content blocked, banned, and censored more and more frequently, while leftist sites go untouched.

The tech giants who control the mediums that independent journalists and commentators use to reach their audience are well-known to be far-left progressives, and their policies towards voices that they don’t agree with are clear.

And there’s more, like this from the Gateway Pundit, which provided a list of popular conservative sites hit hard by social media outlets.

Jim Hoft further noted:

In February Facebook launched a new algorithm to ensure that conservative news would not spread on the social media platform. The algorithm change caused President Donald Trump’s engagement on Facebook posts toplummet a whopping 45%.

In contrast, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) do not appear to have suffered a comparable decline in Facebook engagement.

Top conservative Facebook pages with daily traffic in the millions have seen 75% to 95% drop in traffic.
Young Cons, Western Journalism, SarahPalin.comIndependent Journal Review, Right Wing News, and several others have seen dramatic loss in traffic.

And, Hoft added, Facebook shut down his site’s traffic stream even after taking his advertising money.

We’ve also reported on Facebook’s shenanigans many times over the years — from individual bans that appear to be highly questionable and possibly politically-motivated to pages being pulled over false charges of nudity.  Yours truly was repeatedly banned over forged posts in 2015 and was slapped with a 30-day ban over a picture of an eagle superimposed on a U.S. flag.  The months-long foray into Facebook hell was part of the inspiration behind “Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad (World Ahead Press 2016), a book by yours truly and American-Israeli Adina Kutnicki.

There’s a lot more examples of Facebook censorship, here, most, if not all, of which you simply will not see anywhere else, not even Fox News.  We’ve also addressed censorship on Twitter and YouTube.

But now we have empirical data that seems to back up the claims.

According to The Outline:

Facebook’s January 12 announcement that it would begin to de-prioritize news publishers and their posts in users’ News Feeds has had a surprisingly profound and partisan impact. According to The Outline’s analysis of Facebook engagement data obtained from research tool BuzzSumo, conservative and right-wing publishers (such as Breitbart, Fox News, and Gateway Pundit) were hit the hardest in the weeks following the announcement, with Facebook engagement totals for February dropping as much as 55 percent for some, while the engagement numbers of most predominantly liberal publishers remained unaffected.

Both liberal and conservative publishers of clickbait and highly polarizing content also experienced a significant drop in engagement following Facebook’s News Feed de-prioritization announcement.

The Outline said it came to its conclusion after analyzing Facebook engagement data of 20 publishers from March 5, 2017 to February 28, 2018.

According to the analysis, “popular conservative news publishers like Fox News experienced a serious dip in total Facebook engagement following the company’s January announcement, while popular liberal ones, such as CNN, did not.”

On the other hand, the New York Times and the Washington Post — hardly bastions of conservative thought — actually saw an increase in engagement even though their overall post counts dropped.

Ater taking a gratuitous slap at Hoft’s site, The Outline further noted that the Gateway Pundit “experienced a 55 percent drop in Facebook engagement from January to February despite the fact that the number of posts made had only decreased by approximately 20 percent. Similarly, though Steve Bannon’s Breitbart was only posting roughly 9 percent less content, Breitbart’s engagement dropped by nearly 28 percent, and interactions with the wildly popular Prager U decreased by nearly 32 percent despite the fact that the site was publishing approximately 18 percent more content than in January.”

In fairness, The Outline added: “Liberal-leaning sites that either publish a significant amount of clickbait-type content or tend to use polarizing partisan language also experienced a noticeable drop in Facebook engagement.”

Facebook, The Outline said, did not respond to their request for comment.

“Where the hell is the GOP?” Hoft asked.

Good question.

On a final note, we’ve put together an outline of measures Republicans can and, in our opinion, should, make to deal with the issue.  But will they?  We’re not holding our breath, but we will remember in November…


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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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