A Co-ordinated fightback against the continued censorship of conservative and libertarian thought on social media was long overdue and on Tuesday the Media Research Center (MRC) launched a coalition that aims to take up that fight. The largest social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube – along with Google, the world’s most-used search engine – have stifled right-wing opinion and news for years and the backlash against this practice was inevitable. The political right is, at long last, demanding that its voice is heard.
In partnership with 14 conservative organizations, the MRC announced a campaign dedicated to holding the tech giants accountable for their political bias. The new coalition is called Conservatives Against Online Censorship and its purpose is to push back against what MRC President Brent Bozell describes as “one of the largest threats to free speech we have ever seen.”
The Online Suppression of Ideology
Conservatives and Libertarians who use social media have, for some time, been aware of the efforts by Twitter and Facebook, particularly, to suppress voices and information sources that share their ideology. Content and information providers are more aware of the problem; it is not always obvious to end-user – the consumer of information – that content is being withheld from them but those who create the product are conscious of how their attempts to reach an audience are hindered.
Youtube – owned by Google – allows content creators to monetize their product through subscription and ad placement. In preventing conservative creators from monetizing their content and blocking the promotion of that content to their subscribers, Youtube is actively and deliberately affecting the ability of certain individuals and organizations to generate income.
Outspoken conservative duo Diamond and Silk have publicly battled efforts by Facebook and Youtube to prevent their content getting out to their fans and followers. Even conservative comedians like Steve ‘Mudflap’ McGrew have found themselves on the receiving end of this politically-motivated content filtering.
The real issue is far bigger than financial concerns, however; between them, these online services have enormous influence on society. They have become the main conduits through which news, information, entertainment and even commerce flow to almost 70% of Americans. By restricting news, data, and opinion from one end of the political spectrum, these companies are shaping – or attempting to shape – public opinion on a whole range of issues.
Exposing the Way Social Media Companies Filter Content
The MRC has produced a 58-page report on the subject of online censorship. In its executive summary, the report says “[Censorship is] the new battleground of media bias. But it’s worse. That bias is not a war of ideas. It’s a war against ideas. It’s a clear effort to censor the conservative worldview from the public conversation.”
One of the greatest challenges is ways companies like Facebook and Twitter have taken it upon themselves to police ‘hate speech’ and other ‘offensive’ or ‘unacceptable’ behavior. They have made themselves the judges of what does – and what does not – fit these definitions and use complex algorithms to filter certain information and opinions. This new coalition aims to put pressure on social media platforms to clarify how and why they do this and what parameters they are using. In addition, the group will petition the companies behind these platforms to give conservatives a more level playing field.
Enough is Enough
By stealth, the left has incrementally forced conservative voices to the fringes of popular debate and, in so doing, has framed right-wing ideology as an extreme world-view, subscribed to by only a fanatical minority. This was a miscalculation, however; as the hubris and arrogance of the left have driven it ever further towards a radical and, quite frankly, ridiculous interpretation of ‘normality,’ Americans – and many people in other western countries – have decided that enough is enough.
The left has, traditionally, been more vocal in promoting its agenda but, more and more, conservatives and libertarians are resolving to push back and ensure that their own voices will no longer be suppressed.