Testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill this week, executives from Twitter and Facebook did little to assuage conservatives’ legitimate concern that they’re being unfairly censored on social media while liberal voices are given unfiltered access on the powerful platforms.
These are digital town squares reaching millions, places where politicians have the ability to connect with voters while influential voices in journalism, punditry and beyond shape public opinion, affecting the outcomes of U.S. elections.
Here’s the problem: The deck is stacked against conservatives who support President Donald Trump, as well as those who possess right-leaning political viewpoints contrasting with liberal groupthink. This includes pro-life groups and those who support the Second Amendment or even the U.S. Constitution in general — especially when it comes to such hot-button topics as illegal immigration.
It’s no secret that during the 2016 presidential election, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said she wanted Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton “to win badly.” Perhaps that would explain why former Facebook news “curators” told Gizmodo that they routinely prevented conservative topics — such as Mitt Romney, CPAC, Rand Paul and other items of interest — from appearing in the social network’s highly influential “Trending” section during the campaign and artificially inserted other topics that weren’t organically trending. Twitter has admitted to censoring at least 600,000 conservative accounts — including those of high-ranking Republican lawmakers and Republican National Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel — this year, blaming glitches in its algorithms.
Funny how these “mistakes” never seem to impact Democrats.
Knowing what we know, are voters to believe that these powerful media executives are not putting their thumbs on the scale by using algorithms and other means (unbeknownst to the public) that give preference to like-minded Democratic voices on their platforms — voices and opinions that, en masse, could influence an American election?
Unelected workers at Twitter and Facebook are arbitrarily deciding whose free speech is being protected and who is being silenced based on opaque criteria that neither Sandberg nor Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, could adequately explain during the hearing.
Nor could an explanation be given by Dorsey as to why Twitter users receive emails encouraging them to follow dozens of liberal accounts, such as reporters at The New York Times, CNN and other left-leaning outlets, as well as pundits and Democratic politicians, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Kamala Harris — without a single suggested conservative account.
When pressed on this by Rep. Jeff Duncan, Dorsey whiffed, saying, “Yeah, well, we do have a lot more work to do in terms of our on-boarding, and obviously, you’re pointing out some weaknesses in our signals that we use to craft those selections.”
Translation: Twitter is biased, and maybe, just maybe, it will get around to fixing its rigged system someday.
Until then, conservatives would be wise to keep pressure on lawmakers to pass legislation and/or take other swift measures to stop the discrimination once and for all.
Adriana Cohen is a syndicated columnist with the Boston Herald. Follow her on Twitter @AdrianaCohen16. To find out more about Adriana Cohen and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.