Reported by Joy Pullmann | 29, 2020
Leftist media has skewed U.S. politics for decades, but Big Tech’s amplified influence over global discourse and governments is new. While Congress passed no legislation related to this political and national security emergency, we the people were held captive in lockdowns during a major election while crucial public information was filtered, hidden, and surveilled by unaccountable companies with no allegiance to the United States and obvious disdain for hundreds of millions of its inhabitants.
This is a huge social problem. Regaining our freedom to speak and to share and compare information may be the first task towards redressing our grievances against those who claim to govern us. For how can consent of the governed be truly granted when the people’s ability to inform their consent is manipulated? It cannot.
To regain our self-governance, then, we all need to develop new habits of information-gathering and -sharing. As a tiny part of and precursor to more of that effort, here is an accounting of Federalist work that Google, Facebook, and Twitter tried to keep people from seeing in 2020.
You will notice it fits the pattern of big tech censorship that big tech claims isn’t censorship: it all goes one way politically. All of it also comprises election-meddling by effectively promoting misinformation and disinformation on key voting issues.
Just Plain Hiding the News They Can’t Use
In June, a foreign think tank, NBC, and Google colluded in an attempt to demonetize The Federalist in retaliation for our coverage of Black Lives Matter rioting. The tech giant demanded we end our commenting section, and continues to refuse to allow it back. Google-owned YouTube also continues to shadowban Federalist content and choke our engagement.
In July, Google claimed it had “mistakenly” made it impossible for people to find a slew of conservative news sites, including CNSNews.com, The Washington Free Beacon, Breitbart, Twitchy, RedState, PJ Media, The Blaze, Townhall, LifeNews, PragerU, and The Daily Wire.
After the election, Instagram slapped a warning label on a post in which President Trump honored Pearl Harbor Day. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, put an automatic “fact check” on Trump’s post that claimed Joe Biden won the election, although Trump’s post included nothing about the election results. Instagram later removed the “warning.”
In October, “Twitter suspended U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan for a post celebrating the success of the U.S. southern border wall keeping violent criminals from reaching American communities,” reported The Federalist’s Tristan Justice.
The online publisher banned Morgan, a public official, from communicating the elected president’s publicly stated priorities, telling him in an automated message the post violated the publisher’s “hateful conduct” policies. Morgan had written: “@CBP & @USACEHQ continue to build new wall every day. Every mile helps us stop gang members, murderers, sexual predators, and drugs from entering our country. It’s a fact, walls work.” If this is hate speech, all conservatives are criminals.
Evidence of Biden Family Corruption
Infamously, Twitter and Facebook tampered with the 2020 election in October by immediately and actively suppressing public knowledge of a federal corruption investigation into Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, related to information found on a Delaware laptop.
Yesterday, the computer store owner who turned the laptop over to federal investigators sued Twitter for defamation. Twitter’s ban was predicated on alleging the laptop containing “hacked” material, even though, as The Federalist documented, Twitter regularly allows the circulation of hacked and hoax information. The laptop owner says he did not hack it, he owns it, and that Twitter claiming otherwise has significantly damaged his reputation and employment.
In October, Twitter openly admitted it was pre-emptively choking the story on their platform even before deploying their Chinese- and Democrat-funded “fact-checking” organizations to explain away what are obviously politically motivated, selectively enforced, anti-truth information operations designed to help Democrats control the United States.
Twitter also pre-emptively blocked The New York Post’s subsequent reporting on its Hunter Biden laptop scoop, despite those containing additional corroborating details, and although witnesses and additional evidence also surfaced to independently corroborate the story. Twitter banned members of Congress and the president’s campaign from posting information about the story. It kept the Post locked out of its Twitter account for weeks following the breaking story in the run-up to the election.
Lest we all become too dulled to this successful attempt to control the nation without the people’s consent because we’re all used to leftists refusing fair play and equal treatment, we all need to remember that enough Biden voters to swing the election decisively to Trump said they would have changed their votes if they knew about this corruption story. Big tech bias is not a trivial issue. It is the difference between a fair election and a corrupted one, between self-rule and a corrupted oligarchy.
Evidence of Election Tampering and Errors
From May 2018 to October 2020, Twitter and Facebook restricted posts from President Trump at least 65 times, according to a media study. They did this precisely zero times to Joe Biden (or Hillary Clinton), and it’s not because he’s the most accurate politician alive.
In June, the anti-Trump bias ridiculously caused Twitter to put a warning label on an obvious parody video about a “racist baby.” More seriously, at the same time Twitter repeatedly throttled as “false” President Trump’s claims that mail-in ballots are an insecure voting method. That is absolutely true and it made the 2020 election ripe for fraud, abuse, and contested results.
On election night, Twitter flagged a post from President Trump that said: “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!” Twitter claimed this was “disputed and might be misleading” and banned users from sharing the tweet. Later it was shown that Pennsylvania indeed counted post-election ballots against its own law forbidding that.
On Nov. 4, Twitter slapped a “warning label” about “disputed information” in a tweet from Federalist Cofounder Sean Davis, whose “offending” tweet accurately summarized the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling that ballots brought in after election day would be counted.
On Nov. 9, Twitter put a warning label on a quote from and link to an affidavit of sworn testimony alleging election fraud tweeted by Federalist Senior Contributor Ben Weingarten. “This claim about election fraud is disputed,” Twitter claimed, preventing people from retweeting it without adding their own comments. It later removed the choke without explanation.
In December, Federalist Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway explored the disqualifying errors in a “fact-check” done by one of Facebook’s partners of allegations of election fraud in Georgia. Facebook used the same fact-check she fisked to pre-emptively ban her article from its platform.
Big communications companies rabidly policed discussions about COVID-19 in 2020. Big tech seemed especially pouncy about information related to face masks. This included Amazon’s Nov. 24 ban of a book by former New York Times reporter Alex Berenstein’s book discussing the scientific evidence that mask mandates are ineffective.
It extended to repeated bans and chokes on Federalist content about masks, many by a supposed Facebook “fact check” that didn’t fact check any Federalist articles. It was just a generic fact check applied against anyone questioning the efficacy of cloth masks and generic mask mandates, even when such individuals cited scientific evidence from reputable sources.
Former White House Coronavirus Task Force advisor Dr. Scott Atlas was banned from publishing references to scientific studies on masks. CNN anchor Jake Tapper and CNN commentator Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a professor of neurosurgery, cheered Twitter on. Google-owned YouTube infamously pulled down a June interview of Atlas.
Weirdly, in April Facebook had blocked DIY cloth mask-making sites while banning the sale of medical-grade masks and sanitizer. Yet just a few months later Facebook’s blocking activities supported the use of makeshift masks made out of any material and blocked information, including from The Federalist, pointing out that all masks are not equally effective at virus and other particle filtering. Perhaps pointing out that research has found that gaiter-style or scarf masks actually may increase virus transmission may get this article banned too.
Social media bans on mask information from The Federalist included the well-read Oct. 29 article that quoted and linked to high-quality studies from reputable sources, “These 12 Graphs Show Mask Mandates Do Nothing To Stop COVID,” which was also throttled on LinkedIn.
YOU ALL MIGHT WANT TO TRY TWO NEWER SOCIAL MEDIA SITES. https://mewe.com/ and https://parler.com/
In October, Twitter began publicly testing stronger information controls, which resulted in it warning users who tried to tweet a Federalist article breaking new information about the Spygate scandal. Spygate, of course, is the Obama administration’s documented and so far unpunished use of federal surveillance and policing powers to baselessly persecute, prosecute, and hamstring their political opponents.
The article Twitter impeded reported handwritten notes from Obama CIA Director John Brennan that showed President Obama was made aware months before the 2016 election that the Russian government may have been influencing Hillary Clinton’s false collusion smear against Donald Trump. Sean Davis reported more in that piece for The Federalist:
There is no evidence the FBI ever took any action to ensure that Russian knowledge of Clinton’s plans did not lead to infiltration of that campaign’s operation by Russian intelligence agents. The CIA referral, specifically its reference to a ‘CROSSFIRE HURRICANE fusion cell,’ suggests that the Obama administration’s anti-Trump investigation may not have been limited to the FBI, but may have included the use of CIA assets and surveillance capabilities, raising troubling questions about whether the nation’s top spy service was weaponized against a U.S. political campaign.
Seemingly Random Acts of Censorship
In September, Facebook employed abortionists to “fact-check” two videos from Live Action explaining why abortion is never medically necessary. Numerous obstetrics professionals and a national OB-GYN organization supported Live Action’s statement as accurate, but that didn’t matter to Facebook, which choked Live Action’s page.
In November, Instagram and Facebook’s sweeps caught up an innocent and completely apolitical local charity that used Facebook to coordinate donors and volunteers. Oathkeepers Causeplay may sound like it’s a conservative group, but it’s not (and even if it were, there’s nothing wrong with being conservative). It’s a group of people who dress up like TV and movie superheroes and other characters to cheer up disabled and sick children.
The act of random censorship hurt sick kids by depriving the charity of funds and volunteers. It also scared people away from associating with the charity — which, again, not only did nothing “wrong” but actively does good — out of fears they’d also lose their Facebook-mediated access to friendships and social activity. Good job, Facebook.
Also in October — see a pattern here? — Facebook users who searched for the Christian group Let Us Worship were given a warning message falsely claiming the group was affiliated with QAnon. “This is a peaceful movement from across the political spectrum and they are suppressing it by linking us to Q,” the group’s founder, Sean Feucht, told The Federalist. Facebook claimed the mislabeling was a glitch. Yet nobody shut down their traffic over their inaccurate statements despite the harm they caused others.
Again in October, Facebook demonetized the satire website Babylon Bee for making a Monty Python joke in a headline. Facebook claimed the Bee’s silly headline “Senator Hirono Demands ACB Be Weighed Against A Duck To See If She Is A Witch” “incited violence,” and refused to alter its decision after a review. In a self-parody that is impossible to top, Snopes and Twitter also frequently “fact-check” and throttle the clean satire site. I guess humor is now too conservative to allow.
It wasn’t just 2020, either. This has been going on for years. In fact, you might say Twitter, Google, Facebook, and others have been perfecting their ability to shut down non-leftist discourse and project public opinion cascades. In retrospect, earlier tech bans on speech look like dress rehearsals for the 2020 election bleep show.
In 2018, for example, The Federalist published a theologian’s story about how Facebook banned him from expressing Christian views about teaching young children about LGBT sex and gender identities. Earlier that year, Project Veritas released undercover video of a former Twitter employee verifying the company’s practice of “shadowbanning,” called that at the time because the practice was covert. In 2019, Google banned a conservative think tank from buying online advertising because a scholar affiliated with the think tank had critiqued multiculturalism.
Punishing the Conservative Base While Monetizing Them
Once a website’s content has begun to be flagged as “false” even if it is not, search engines and social media increasingly throttle traffic to the entire site, not just the flagged content. This further serves leftist information control by making publications reluctant to challenge what the unelected tech arbiters of reality have decided we must see and say. This means Google, Facebook, and Twitter ultimately don’t want you to see anything from The Federalist. They also hope you don’t notice.
“[S]tories from right-wing media outlets with false and misleading claims about discarded ballots, miscounted votes and skewed tallies were among the most popular news stories on” Facebook directly after the election, reported The New York Times. Facebook responded with deeper cuts into the reach of information from right-leaning outlets and greater amplification for articles from leftist media:
employees proposed an emergency change to the site’s news feed algorithm, which helps determine what more than two billion people see every day. It involved emphasizing the importance of what Facebook calls ‘news ecosystem quality’ scores, or N.E.Q., a secret internal ranking it assigns to news publishers based on signals about the quality of their journalism.
…The change was part of the ‘break glass’ plans Facebook had spent months developing for the aftermath of a contested election.
Unnamed sources told the New York Times Facebook is working on ways to control information while still keeping users, and that the tools it has developed for this mostly affect right-leaning content. The company may also make permanent some information control mechanisms developed specifically for the 2020 election. But they have to be careful about this, the NYT reported, because when people notice the information control they stop using Facebook so much.
Right-leaning information is consistently among the most popular content on Facebook and YouTube. This means people who consume right-leaning information provide Facebook and Twitter millions of dollars because their time spent on site lures advertising. This allows Facebook to put competing information outlets out of business by siphoning away all advertising revenue while not paying for the content creation that draws the eyeballs, reinforcing their information monopolies.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Her newest ebook is “The Family Read-Aloud Advent Calendar,” and her bestselling ebook is “Classic Books for Young Children.” A Hillsdale College honors graduate, @JoyPullmann is also the author of “The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids,” from Encounter Books.Photo Timothy Krause / Flickr