Legacy media organizations can be counted on to squawk when their voices aren’t heard in Republican-controlled forums – such as White House press conferences.
But when it’s conservatives who are censored on powerful, widely read platforms, it’s hard to find any journalists who care.
Such was the case last week when Project Veritas exposed, in an undercover investigation, how Twitter systematically diminishes – and even bans – access to posts published by those on the Right. One Twitter manager in charge of gatekeeping called their censorship victims “shi**y people.”
Then there was the revelation by The Daily Caller that Google’s “fact check” feature seems to exclusively target conservative web sites in its results. In other words, no suspect or controversial claims by liberal web site publishers are scrutinized for accuracy – only those on the right.
While mainstream media outlets are obsessed about President Trump’s remarks about “sh**hole” third-world countries, the “shi**y” treatment of conservatives by the world’s best-known social media organization and Internet search engine – which nearly all journalists use extensively, especially to broaden their reach – does not interest them. Searches on Google’s news engine through the weekend returned zero articles or blog posts about the censorship of conservatives, except a few by right-leaning web sites.
Thus far Project Veritas, led by undercover investigative specialist James O’Keefe, has produced two videos (he says more are coming) that exposed Twitter employees who admitted they censor or “shadow ban” conservatives’ tweets. Shadow banning is the practice of cloaking the tweets of users so their followers cannot see them, even though they have intentionally chosen to follow their accounts. The effect of such banning is to send your messages into a cyberspace black hole.
In the first Project Veritas video released last week, Senior Network Security Engineer Clay Haynes said Twitter is “more than happy to help the Department of Justice with their little [President Donald Trump] investigation” by providing the agency his private messages and deleted tweets. In the second video posted by Veritas, eight employees are recorded in various ways discussing how Twitter censors or bans the tweets of people they don’t agree with.
For example, former Twitter content review agent Mo Norai said on camera, “There was, I would say… Twitter was probably about 90 percent Anti-Trump, maybe 99 percent Anti-Trump.” And engineer Pranay Singh, explaining how conservatives are screened out, said, “Yeah you look for Trump, or America, and you have like five thousand keywords to describe a redneck. Then you look and parse all the messages, all the pictures, and then you look for stuff that matches that stuff….“I would say majority of it are for Republicans.”
When Haynes’s remarks were revealed, Twitter’s explanation was that “the individual depicted in this video was speaking in a personal capacity.” After that was proven as a lie by Veritas’s second video, the company said bluntly, “Twitter does not shadow ban.”
Immediately afterward the hashtag “#shadowban” began trending (in other words, heavily used, with tens of thousands of tweets), but did not show up on Twitter’s list of most popular hashtags, as O’Keefe showed in a Facebook video.
“It’s trending behind things with only a couple thousand tweets,” O’Keefe said, “so Twitter is literally shadow banning, ‘#shadowbanning.’”
While the admissions by former and current Twitter employees are new, the bias and censorship against conservatives has been known for years. NLPC reported during the 2016 election season that while radical, terror-supporting Muslim Brotherhood received Twitter’s stamp of legitimacy (the “blue check-mark”) on its account, it purged those managed by what the company identified as “alt-right.”
And cartoonist and author Scott Adams, creator of the popular daily comic strip “Dilbert,” slammed Twitter in late 2016 for intentionally diminishing the amount of traffic his tweets received due to shadow banning. Adams had blogged prolifically about the presidential race in support of Trump. He reported in mid-October that many of his more than 110,000 followers (he’s now up to 207,000) told him that Twitter was shadow banning him. He also noticed in October that the number of followers on a live stream he conducted on Periscope (Twitter’s then-streaming app) inexplicably fell from over a thousand to nothing, even though plenty were still engaged with him online.
“If one political party can use the machinery of social networks to reduce free speech,” Adams wrote, “that is an attack on American values at the deepest level.”
Breitbart reported that the Project Veritas investigative findings confirmed what it has reported about Twitter’s censorship practices:
According to [a Twitter] source, Twitter maintains a ‘whitelist’ of favored Twitter accounts and a ‘blacklist’ of unfavored accounts. Accounts on the whitelist are prioritized in search results, even if they’re not the most popular among users. Meanwhile, accounts on the blacklist have their posts hidden from both search results and other users’ timelines.
And Twitter’s censorship isn’t always in the “shadows’ either – in October the company prevented Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee from paying to expand her audience to a tweet about her work fighting Planned Parenthood and how “we stopped the sale of baby body parts, thank God.” told her the reference to fetal tissue was “deemed an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.” She was told she could promote her ad if she removed the “offending” remark, which she resisted. Ultimately Twitter relented and allowed her to boost the tweet.
As for Google and its “fact-check” bias against conservatives, The Daily Caller reported:
When searching for a media outlet that leans right, like The Daily Caller (TheDC), Google gives users details on the sidebar, including what topics the site typically writes about, as well as a section titled “Reviewed Claims.”
Vox, and other left-wing outlets and blogs like Gizmodo, are not given the same fact-check treatment. When searching their names, a “Topics they write about” section appears, but there are no “Reviewed Claims.”
In fact, a review of mainstream outlets, as well as other outlets associated with liberal and conservative audiences, shows that only conservative sites feature the highly misleading, subjective analysis. Several conservative-leaning outlets like The Daily Caller are “vetted,” while equally partisan sites like Vox, ThinkProgress, Slate, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Salon, Vice and Mother Jones are spared.
Worse, as both Daily Caller and conservative Web site The Federalist pointed out in lengthy explanations, often what Google’s “fact-checkers” (like liberal Snopes and PolitiFact) examine are claims that the conservative-leaning news sites never even made. So the effect is to give readers an impression that there are voluminous “fact” problems in the conservative sites’ reporting, since most people probably aren’t going to bother reading details behind the phony “checks.”
So when Twitter shadow bans, they deny it then shadow ban “#shadowbanning.” And when legacy media organizations lie in their “fact checks” of conservative organizations, Google amplifies them in its search services. Meanwhile when social media employees call conservatives “shi**y” and treat them as such, journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Politico and others can’t be bothered to report it.
Social and “mainstream” media have quite a collaborative effort going on to mute their political opposition, rather than be brave enough to hear their voices and promote debate.