“Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices,” and “the Trump Administration ... won’t let that happen.” So wrote President Trump on Twitter Saturday, in a shot across the bow of increasingly Orwellian social-media companies. This comes on the heels of a Friday discrimination complaint the administration filed against Facebook alleging that “the way the company targets ads can be used to screen out people based on race, sex or other protected categories,” reports the Washington Times.
While the latter complaint doesn’t relate to the censorship issue, it perhaps does signal the Trump administration’s determination to deal with social-media sleight-of-hand. As for its substance, the Times explains:
The complaint goes to the heart of Facebook’s business model, which depends on being able to offer advertisers micro-targeting.
“Facebook mines extensive user data and classifies its users based on protected characteristics. Facebook’s ad targeting tools then invite advertisers to express unlawful preferences by suggesting discriminatory options,” the Housing and Urban Development Department said in the complaint.
Among those options are physical disabilities, parents with children and even religious practices — advertisers are allowed to show their ads only to people Facebook deems interested in “Jesus” or the “Christian Church,” for example.
I‘ve often inveighed against anti-discrimination law, which is unconstitutional on the federal level and violates the freedom-of-association principle on any level. Having said this, “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly,” goes a quotation attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Leftist-spawned legislation will be eternal if it’s only used by leftists, for leftists, in the name of advancing leftism.
Speaking of which brings us to the censorship issue. While President Trump didn’t say what steps he might take to remedy the squelching of conservatives, and while conservatives understandably are wary of big-government action, no valid prescription can be proffered without a proper diagnosis — and the reality is that most people don’t grasp the problem’s seriousness.
But it was outlined very well recently by Robert Spencer, proprietor of Jihad Watch and author of The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS. As he said in a Friday interview with Breitbart News:
The social media giants, now, have more control over the means of communication than the Soviet Union did in its heyday, or Nazi Germany, and they are pursuing a genuinely totalitarian initiative, and it’s based largely on the work of Southern Poverty Law Center, which is a far-left group trying to demonize all dissent from the leftist agenda by lumping in legitimate conservative voices with groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis. If you end up on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate-group list, then the tech media giants will deplatform you on that basis with no recourse, no appeal, discussion; nothing.
Spencer’s first line is no exaggeration. Facebook alone had 2.23 billion active monthly users as of 2018’s second quarter, amounting to almost 30 percent of the world’s population; moreover, a full 68 percent of Americans use the service.
Combine this reach with Twitter, the other social media companies and Google — arguably history’s most powerful corporation (in December, 77 percent of worldwide search-engine users conducted a Google search) — and you have what I’ve dubbed GoogTwitFace: an entity that basically controls the flow of information to the people.
This is everything. “Knowledge is power,” the saying goes. You can literally shape public opinion by controlling what (mis)information is fed to the citizenry. As with a computer, it’s garbage in, garbage out.
To further illustrate these corporations’ power, consider that most of The New American’s total traffic is indirect traffic coming from search engines (such as Google) and referring websites (such as Facebook). And our overall readership is lower than it should be because, as I reported here, here, and here, The New American and other conservative sites already are censored.
This action can be devastating. For example, conservative non-profit PragerU recently was, apparently, shadow-banned by Facebook, dropping its reach on that platform by 99.9999 percent.
The point? If other social media and Google join in the censorship, they can choke off traffic and thus advertising revenue — they can literally put you out of business.
To cement the point, consider two questions: Why do we have a First Amendment? Why do we fear Soviet-style censorship? Because it can completely suppress that disinfectant called Truth, with which would-be tyrants’ lies can be exposed and eviscerated. So evildoers want to ensure that the Truth never leaves the starting block.
Now, what’s the difference between effecting this suppression of Truth via public and private institutions? Of course, the legal difference is that governmental censorship violates the First Amendment. But is there a difference in effect? Either way, lies are elevated and hold sway. And, in fact, the private censorship is more insidious because people have the illusion of the free flow of information.
(Note also that these corporations work hand-in-glove with governments, anyway. They were close to the Obama administration and increasingly do the bidding of the Chinese and EU statists.)
The bottom line is that, today, social media have to a large degree become the public square. Banish someone from the public square and he’s that tree that falls in a lonely forest: Yes, he makes a sound — but nobody hears him.
I’m not here and now proposing a complete solution, but a step in the right direction is to send your traffic to non-establishment entities such as news aggregator Whatfinger.com, search engine DuckDuckGo.com, and social media site Oneway.com. I’ll also tell you what won’t work: Dismissing this problem with, “Just cancel your Facebook account. I have.” This is like saying that if everyone just stopped paying taxes, we’d bring big government to heel; after all it can’t throw us all in jail. This may sound good, but (in addition to the fact that such an action would target all government, not just unconstitutional government) people never thus act in unison.
But the big information-flow corporations can; they can collude. And with the Soviet mentality living and thriving in GoogTwitFace, it threatens our very republic itself.
Photo: gmutlu/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images