For more than a year, the social media behemoths have been testing POTUS Donald Trump’s patience with their shadow banning, censorship, and outright deplatforming of one conservative figure and voice after another.
In August, for instance, the president publicly blasted what he deemed “illegal” censorship by the social media behemoths.
“Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media,” he wrote on Twitter. “In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out.”
Then in March, the president warned Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg after the social media behemoth blocked Trump’s social media manager, Dan Scavino.
“I will be looking into this! #StopTheBias” the president wrote.
Well, POTUS Trump — as much as he has on his mind given the Russian collusion hoax, the border crisis, and global hot spots — did, in fact, ‘look into it.’ And now the White House is taking what is surely just a first step in addressing the blatant anti-Trump, anti-conservative bias of the Left-wing social media platforms.
The Trump Administration is fighting for free speech online.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 15, 2019
On Thursday, the Trump administration launched a new website that allows users of social media to report incidents of bias.
“The Trump Administration is fighting for free speech online,” said a tweet from the White House. “No matter your views, if you suspect political bias has caused you to be censored or silenced online, we want to hear about it!”
Visitors to the website are greeted with this message:
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Yet too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear “violations” of user policies. No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump.”
Twitter alternative Gab approved of the administration’s new initiative, tweeting, “Excellent, we will email our ~1m users and get you a very large set of data.”
Are antitrust violations occurring?
The initiative has been a long time coming.
Not only has the president himself called out the tech giants after repeated complaints from conservatives, they have either been banned outright or had their content “shadow banned” — downgraded without their knowledge so that even their own followers could not see their posts — but some leading lawmakers have also addressed the issue.
In April, for instance, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) threatened legislation that would regulate social media companies after the president repeatedly accused them of anti-conservative bias.
“What makes the threat of political censorship so problematic is the lack of transparency, the invisibility, the ability for a handful of giant tech companies to decide if a particular speaker is disfavored,” he said during published remarks last month.
Also, freshman GOP Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who, as attorney general of the Show-Me State sued the tech companies over alleged privacy violations, has grilled social media representatives in committee over similar issues.
Of course, representatives from the tech giants have all denied that their platforms are inherently biased, but significant studies — and some good old-fashioned investigative journalism — have proven otherwise.
In March, James O’Keefe and his journalism outfit Project Veritas caught a pair of Twitter engineers on video discussing shadow banning, banning “a way of talking,” specifically targeting conservatives, and classifying any user who talked about “guns” and “God” as Russian bots, thereby suppressing their speech.
The new website will gather information about social media censorship; let’s hope it leads to some sort of antitrust action by federal agencies responsible for ensuring all Americans are treated fairly.