Prior to the 2018 midterm elections, conservatives and Republican lawmakers tried to sound the alarm that the social media behemoths were engaged in a concerted, systematic effort to drive them off their platforms and silence their points of view. Now, conservatives face a severe election credibility challenge heading in to 2020 that they cannot ignore.
The threat to our election integrity has only grown over the past two years. Study after study has shown that Republican voices and Right-leaning media sites have been downgraded, “shadow-banned,” and censored outright.
One of the earliest came in April 2018 when the conservative Media Research Center released a comprehensive 50-page report documenting the censorship.
The report, “Censored! How Online Media Companies Are Suppressing Conservative Speech,” looked at the four major social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google — and concluded that their handling of political speech is “far more troubling than most conservatives realize.”
“War is being declared on the conservative movement in this space and conservatives are losing — badly,” the report’s executive summary says. “If the right is silenced, billions of people will be cut off from conservative ideas and conservative media.”
By some measure, at least, one could argue that the campaign of censorship worked: While Republicans picked up a few seats in the Senate, they didn’t score as many as political analysts had forecast. And, of course, the GOP lost the House, and by a larger-than-expected margin.
Was it really planned, however? Do social media companies have an agenda to promote one political viewpoint over another? It would certainly seem so. (Related: How the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact might unleash a violent civil war following the 2020 election… which is exactly what Democrats want.)
Investigative news site The Intercept reported a year ago, months before the 2018 midterms, that Facebook not only realized it was massive enough to alter the outcomes of elections but decided to hide this fact as well:
When Mark Zuckerberg was asked if Facebook had influenced the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, the founder and CEO dismissed the notion that the site even had such power as “crazy.” It was a disingenuous remark. Facebook’s website had an entire section devoted to touting the “success stories” of political campaigns that used the social network to influence electoral outcomes. That page, however, is now gone, even as the 2018 congressional primaries get underway.
Studies have shown, too, that the social media behemoths have the capacity to change elections.
Way back in 2012, just a few months before President Obama’s reelection, The New York Times published the results of a study that found social media networks could affect voter turnout. And wouldn’t you know that Facebook researchers were involved in the study, along with colleagues from the University of California-San Diego?
Plus, there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest the out-sized power of social media — the fact that all major campaigns use it to reach voters and potential supporters. Notes Brad Parscale, POTUS Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, in a September column: “The biggest of the Big Tech companies are quickly positioning themselves as the internet’s thought police, threatening to stamp out one of America’s most cherished freedoms — the right to free speech.”
What’s more, he added, the political perspective is certainly one-sided: “Big Tech monsters like Google and Facebook have become nothing less than incubators for far-left liberal ideologies and are doing everything they can to eradicate conservative ideas and their proponents from the Internet.”
What should conservatives do if Republicans are resoundingly defeated at the ballot box in 2020, given the data we now have along with polling trends from several sources showing POTUS Trump with a commanding, comfortable lead? Reject those results until federal regulators like the FCC ensure that all voices are heard (and, importantly, seen) on their platforms.
Read more about social media censorship of conservatives at Censorship.news.