At first, it was only a few media reports and a couple of voices here and there complaining about how the social media behemoths Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Twitter were banning and censoring conservative, pro-Trump voices in the independent and alternative press.
Then, as more conservative voices were “shadow banned” and otherwise down-rated, the complaints began to grow in frequency and in volume.
Finally, last week the issue came to a head as the president of the United States, always quick to side against injustice, stepped into the fray.
“Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints,” POTUS Donald Trump tweeted.
Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
The president is, as usual, spot-on. There have been very credible reports and studies done over the past few months indicating clearly that conservative, pro-Trump content is being censored and banned based on nothing more than Left-wing political bias on the part of the social media companies.
One of the most recent was actually done by a Left-wing news site, Vice, which found definitive proof that Twitter was shadow-banning conservative content:
Twitter is limiting the visibility of prominent Republicans in search results — a technique known as “shadow banning” — in what it says is a side effect of its attempts to improve the quality of discourse on the platform.
Vice has since updated its original reporting to claim that Twitter has “fixed” its issue regarding the shadow banning, but for many elected Republicans, it’s too little too late.
On Saturday during an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said Congress is looking into “legal” remedies regarding social media censorship.
“I don’t know what Twitter’s up to. It sure looks to me like they are censoring people. And they ought to stop it. And we are looking at any legal remedies that we can go through,” he said, as reported by The Gateway Pundit. (Related: Legislative and regulatory solutions for halting the censorship of independent media.)
Nunes said initially he had “no idea” what shadow banning was, but eventually learned about it after he said several people mentioned they had tried to find him via the site’s search function but couldn’t. He also noted that there were four members of Congress – including him – who had been similarly blocked.
Whatever Twitter or GOP critics want to call it, Nunes said, the result was the same: Their accounts were being blocked from users who were trying to make contact with them.
Facebook is doing pretty much the same thing – blocking users’ content even from their own followers. That’s especially true for conservative, pro-Trump media, many of whom have seen their referral traffic from the platform drop by as much as 90 percent or more in the past few months after “algorithm” changes designed, ostensibly, to combat ‘fake news.’ Meanwhile, the real traffickers in fake news – CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, among others, have seen their traffic increase.
According to a just-completed study by the Western Journal — whose own right-leaning content traffic has been greatly diminished via Facebook despite its 5.32 million “likes” and 4.58 million followers — traffic to liberal websites has increased two percent in the month since Facebook implemented its new algorithm, while traffic to conservative sites has tanked 14 percent.
“This algorithm change, intentional or not, has in effect censored conservative viewpoints on the largest social media platform in the world,” George Upper, Western Journal’s editor, added.
While the social media giants are multi-billion-dollar companies, they don’t have Uncle Sam’s deep pockets or an army of prosecutors like the Justice Department. So that’s a threat the platform should take seriously, especially after the platform’s most high-profile user, POTUS Donald Trump, has threatened the same thing.
But will they?
Read more about social media censorship at Censorship.news.
J.D. Heyes is also editor-in-chief of The National Sentinel.