Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter Ramp Up Censorship of Conservatives
The major tech and social media sites, run by mostly left-wing management, have been increasingly targeting conservatives in recent weeks. Although some of the sites attacked, like Infowars, aren’t mainstream sites on the right that everyone may like, all conservatives should be concerned. Going after targets that aren’t as defensible is being done purposely, in order to establish precedent setting cases to be used to go after more mainstream sites on the right.
Facebook Changes Algorithm, Conservatives Go Down
In late January, Facebook changed its algorithms. This resulted in greatly decreased traffic for many Facebook pages on the right, as well as those websites which relied upon Facebook traffic.
Facebook claimed the algorithm change emphasized posts from “friends, family and groups” and reduced those from “businesses, brands and media.” But an analysis from The Outline observed that right-leaning sites were the hardest hit. The site found “engagement totals for February dropping as much as 55 percent for some, while the engagement numbers of most predominantly liberal publishers remained unaffected.”
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President Trump’s engagement on Facebook posts dropped 45 percent. In contrast, potential left-wing presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) did not see drops. Fox News had a drop of 26 percent in its Facebook engagement, whereas CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post saw virtually no change. The only left-leaning sites that appear to be affected were clickbait sites.
Right Wing News, which has over a million fans on its page, saw such a decrease in traffic that owner John Hawkins said it was no longer profitable to keep running. He shut down the page and site (it’s still online but is not updated). IJ Review, another popular site on the right that got much of its traffic from Facebook, was forced into layoffs last week. Three other sites heavily dependent on Facebook. Young Cons, Western Journalism and Sarah Palin, saw huge decreases in website traffic in January. Some sites had to switch domain names to survive. Western Journalism renamed its domain Western Journal. Even the most popular sites on the right were affected, like Breitbart.
First They Came For …
“First they came for Infowars, and I did not speak out — because I found them offensive,” Michael Brown has written. “Then they came for Geller and Spencer, and I did not speak out — because I found them obnoxious. They came for Prager U, and I did not speak out — because I found them opinionated. Then they came for a host of others, and I did not speak out — because I have my own life to live. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Gateway Pundit, a popular, controversial site on the right that posts breaking news, says Facebook has been flagging its articles and referring people to alternative sources like the Associated Press. An article featuring a letter written to Gateway Pundit by the father of a two Parkland students who are pro-Second Amendment was apparently flagged and blocked by Facebook. A message popped up directing people to an AP article, which Facebook described as “an independent fact-checking site.”
The Outline reported that Gateway Pundit’s Facebook engagement dropped 55 percent “from January to February despite the fact that the number of posts made had only decreased by approximately 20 percent.” The site described Gateway Pundit as “a fringe far-right site which often publishes stories that are plainly false with inflammatory headlines,”
Facebook banned Libertarian Missouri Senate candidate Austin Petersen for 30 days in the fall of 2017 for promoting an AR-15 giveaway on his campaign site. Facebook reversed the ban halfway through, stating that they could not find any violations of terms of service. But when Petersen launched the giveaway again last week, Facebook renewed the ban. He notes that other AR-15 giveaways have been conducted over Facebook. He suspects it may be related to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg donating $5,400 to his Democratic opponent Claire McCaskill.
The Great YouTube Purge
It’s not just Facebook that’s apparently been censoring conservatives. YouTube has taken down a rash of gun videos and videos addressing conspiracies in the past couple of weeks. Some right-leaning users found themselves locked out of their accounts. It’s being referred to as the “The Great YouTube Purge.” It comes after the first wave of censorship, demonetizing right-leaning YouTube channels, which takes away their ability to run ads.
YouTube is getting help from the Southern Poverty Law Center to identify “extremist” content. SPLC is known for labeling mainstream people and groups on the right as hate speech. YouTube also hires a large percentage of employees who are on the left.
The rightwing site Infowars, which covers conspiracies, is one strike away from being removed. When a YouTube account receives a community guidelines strike, they can no long livestream. This greatly hurts their traffic and advertising revenue. After three strikes, their account is terminated. Infowars has 2.2 million subscribers. YouTube recently took down some of their videos, but has relented and let them upload.
YouTube also censored Jerome Corsi, whose breaking journalism made him a well-known name on the right. The tech giant removed one of his videos and disabled his livestreaming for 90 days. YouTube claimed the video violated a “community standard” against “harassment and bullying.”
Tim Pool had a video taken down where he covered the speculation – which he clearly admitted was dubious – that the gun control activists who emerged after the Florida school shooting were crisis actors. It was later reinstated.
YouTube claims it was cracking down on conspiracy theory videos. But apparently only on the right. YouTube is sponsoring a left-winger who claims 911 was an inside government job.
YouTube claims it was cracking down on conspiracy theory videos. But apparently only on the right.
Pool notices that YouTube News promotes mainstream media videos by news outlets like CNN, even though they get far fewer views than popular right wing channels.
RightSide Broadcasting livestreamed an alternative to the Oscars on YouTube, but YouTube demonetized it. This meant it could make little or no money from ads. The ban said, “content identified as not suitable for most advertisers.”
Blogger Mike Cernovich reported on March 1 that YouTube banned a video he uploaded reporting on Antifa chanting death threats. YouTube assigned a strike to his account. It was only a 30-second video of protesters chanting in Washington, D.C. They were chanting about guns for a revolution. This censors citizen journalism.
Sargon of Akkad, a well-known right-leaning pundit on YouTube, had his Google account shut down over an incident that occurred a year ago. This cut off access to his YouTube account. He posted on Facebook on March 1, “My YouTube channels had zero strikes. The purge is here.” His access was restored a day later.
On February 20, YouTube removed three videos from the Military Arms Channel. They were “Sure Shot Exploding Targets,” “MAC Opens a Gun Shop – Copper Custom,” and “New Kel-Tec RDB Bullpup.” The channel has 700,000 subscribers. It receives over 100 million views per month. After The Outline contacted YouTube, two of the videos were restored.
YouTube claimed the censorship of the right was a mistake. The company admitted hiring left-wing employees led to the problem, “New moderators may have mistakenly removed or flagged right wing videos and channels.”
Twitter continues to censor those on the right. On March 3, Devin Sena tweeted a photo of an unborn baby with the hashtag #TriggerALiberalIn4Words. Twitter added a warning next to the image which said it may contain sensitive material. The company also emailed Sena notifying him that his future tweets could be permanently censored if he didn’t self-censor in the future. Twitter has a history of censoring pro-life ads. It also has been exposed for shadowbanning accounts on the right.
Dan Bongino, who has become a well-known black conservative due to his frequent appearances on Fox News lately, had his ability to run ads on Twitter deactivated with no explanation.
It’s known that the big tech companies won’t accept ads to sell guns, but now they’re taking it a step further. The company Zore makes a gun safety product called Zore-X. It locks a firearm from shooting. In order to load a round, a dial placed on the gun must be turned left and right a certain number of clicks. Yet Facebook, Twitter and YouTube refuse to accept ads for it.
What to do About it
Some of the sites affected by the censorship have filed lawsuits. Prager U, a mainstream educational site founded by talk show host and best-selling author Dennis Prager, is currently battling YouTube in court over censorship. YouTube has placed at least 21 of Prager U videos on restricted viewership mode. This makes them unavailable to viewers under 18. The site experienced a decline in traffic from Facebook’s changing algorithm in January as well.
Corsi has suggested a Bill of Rights for the internet, to apply U.S. constitutional rights to the internet that the big tech companies often ignore. A petition has been posted on the White House site calling for this.
Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC.