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Regulators Want to Know: Are Social Media Companies 'Intentionally Stifling' Conservatives?

The Department of Justice plans to look into whether social media platforms are "hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas."

AJ SISCO/UPI/NewscomAJ SISCO/UPI/Newscom

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today that it will look into whether social media platforms are "hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas."

DOJ spokesperson Devin O'Malley said in a statement Wednesday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will meet later this month with various state attorneys general to examine the issue. According to Reuters, the meeting will be held on September 25.

The DOJ's announcement came the same day that Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Both executives answered questions about the steps they're taking to prevent foreign actors from using social media to disrupt the American democratic process.

It seems the Trump administration is more concerned about Silicon Valley's alleged censorship of conservative viewpoints than foreign election meddling. In an interview yesterday with The Daily Caller, President Donald Trump claimed the "true interference" in the 2016 election was the fact that "virtually all of those [social media] companies are super liberal companies in favor of Hillary Clinton."

Conservatives have long accused Twitter and Facebook of censoring their viewpoints. Google has caught some ire, too. Late last month, Trump railed against the internet giant, claiming its liberal bias was evident in the results of a "Trump News" search. Trump even suggested the federal government could regulate Google and other companies accused of censoring conservatives.

So are internet companies really biased against conservatives?

Facebook, Google, and Twitter have all insisted the answer is no. Following his testimony before the Senate, Dorsey faced more questions from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, this time about Twitter's alleged anti-conservative bias. He again denied it, while also claiming Twitter is trying "to be as transparent as possible."

It's impossible to say for certain whether or not internet platforms are censoring conservatives. Regardless, that's not necessarily a bad thing. As I argued in July, privately run companies have every right to promote viewpoints they like and censor the ones they don't. But many conservatives can't seem to grasp this idea:

Conservatives say they're proponents of free speech and free markets, and while that doesn't mean they have to like the political biases of the people who run Twitter and Facebook, they should at least respect a private company's right to promote some views over others. There is nothing stopping right-leaning programmers from creating social media networks that amplify conservative voices at the expense of liberal ones. Some conservatives have done just that, though for many more, it's much easier to complain about bias and argue the law should force private companies to accommodate them.

Social media companies may indeed be "hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas." But that's their right.

Photo Credit: AJ SISCO/UPI/Newscom

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  • John||

    Social media companies may indeed be "hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas." But that's their right.

    In the abstract sure. It is not their right, however, to tell their customers that they are a content-neutral platform in the terms of service and then be anything but in practice. That is fraud. It is also not their right to form cartels and monopolies to crush competitors or views they don't like. The antitrust laws do apply to them.

    There is a little bit more to this than "its their company".

  • SimonP||

    "It is not their right, however, to tell their customers that they are a content-neutral platform..."

    Hold up, moron. Have you read any of the ToS you claim to be citing? Did you even think to fucking check?

    Straight-up, from Google's ToS:

    OTHER THAN AS EXPRESSLY SET OUT IN THESE TERMS OR ADDITIONAL TERMS, NEITHER GOOGLE NOR ITS SUPPLIERS OR DISTRIBUTORS MAKE ANY SPECIFIC PROMISES ABOUT THE SERVICES. FOR EXAMPLE, WE DON'T MAKE ANY COMMITMENTS ABOUT THE CONTENT WITHIN THE SERVICES, THE SPECIFIC FUNCTIONS OF THE SERVICES, OR THEIR RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, OR ABILITY TO MEET YOUR NEEDS. WE PROVIDE THE SERVICES "AS IS".

    I'm not doing the work, but I'm guessing you'll find comparable disclaimers in Facebook and Twitter's ToS.

    The antitrust laws do apply to them.

    Sure, but the First Amendment constrains the application of the antitrust laws to them. Google, et al., are prohibited from taking anticompetitive steps to try to maintain a monopoly on the marketplace for the services they provide. That has absolutely nothing to do with whether they provide a "competitive" marketplace of ideas within their services.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    WE DON'T MAKE ANY COMMITMENTS ABOUT THE CONTENT WITHIN THE SERVICES

    Hey, moron, that's sort of undermined when the company technicians admit to deliberately suppressing conservative viewpoints on those platforms.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Think it through again. They're explicitly telling you that the content is 'up for grabs' with no commitment. So some techs take advantage by grabbing at the distribution point, regardless of whether Google directed them to or not, and choke it off. I would think 'no commitments about the content' covers Google's "and we don't care, we don't have to" response.
    What other interpretation of the clause would any competent business lawyer insist on before letting their client put it out as binding?

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    They're explicitly telling you that the content is 'up for grabs' with no commitment.

    Except you have their CEOs bending over backwards to affirm their dedication to free speech.

  • SimonP||

    Hey, moron, that's sort of undermined when the company technicians admit to deliberately suppressing conservative viewpoints on those platforms.

    Fake news from disgruntled employees who want to make those companies look bad.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Fake news Accurate news from disgruntled acting employees who want to make those companies look bad. are discussing existing company policy.

    Fixed that for you.

  • John||

    OTHER THAN AS EXPRESSLY SET OUT IN THESE TERMS OR ADDITIONAL TERMS, NEITHER GOOGLE NOR ITS SUPPLIERS OR DISTRIBUTORS MAKE ANY SPECIFIC PROMISES ABOUT THE SERVICES. FOR EXAMPLE, WE DON'T MAKE ANY COMMITMENTS ABOUT THE CONTENT WITHIN THE SERVICES, THE SPECIFIC FUNCTIONS OF THE SERVICES, OR THEIR RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, OR ABILITY TO MEET YOUR NEEDS. WE PROVIDE THE SERVICES "AS IS".

    Since I can read and you apparently can't, let me try and explain to you what that means. That is saying they are making no promises about the reliability of the service or the nature of the content found in it. They are saying that you can't sue them for any loses you incur if the system breaks down. That is not the relevant part of the TOS. There is nothing in the TOS that says they can kick you off for having bad political views. They say that they will kick you off for putting up illegal content.

    Learn how to read before you come on here and waste everyone's time.

  • SimonP||

    You were the one, recall, who claimed that the ToS purported to provide a "content-neutral platform." The bit I've cited sufficiently rebuts that assertion.

    Do try to keep up.

  • John||

    Yes it does. It says that will only kick you off if you put up illegal content or graphic violence or such. That is content neutral you fucking half wit. "Having bad political views" is not listed as a violation of the TOS.

    Are you really this stupid?

  • SimonP||

    It says that will only kick you off if you put up illegal content or graphic violence or such. That is content neutral you fucking half wit.

    That is literally a "content-based" policy.

    "Having bad political views" is not listed as a violation of the TOS.

    No one is being kicked off of the services for having "bad political views." Of course, it is sometimes difficult to know what they've been kicked off for doing, since most of the reports you've bothered to cite are strategically and self-servingly silent on that point. But it is probably safe to surmise that "deplatformed" conservatives are removed more because they engage in speech that runs directly against their platform's ToS - "hate speech," "cruel and insensitive," "violent," etc., just to cite a few categories prohibited by Facebook.

  • Magnitogorsk||

    Their company, their rules. Don't like it? Don't use it!

  • Number 2||

    Interesting point you make.

    Then it is also true that users of Google, Facebook, etc., have no right to expect to be protected from mean, ugly, racist, sexist, vulgar or insulting speech, and have no complaint if Google, Facebook, etc., "fail" to enforce their TOS's, because these services all disclaimed having made any specific promises about their services.

    And it also means that when the federal government (as it did during the Obama Administration) complained to these services that ISIS decapitation videos "violated" the services' TOS's and that the feds "expected" them to enforce their TOS's by deleting those videos, the services should have responded that they have no obligation to enforce the TOS's because they disclaimed having made any specific promises about their services.

    Finally, it means that if Google, Facebook, etc., claim that their TOS's "required" them to boot out someone like Alex Jones, they are lying, because their TOS's don't "require" them to do anything.

    They cannot have it both ways.

  • SimonP||

    I mean, do take a moment to research the issues on which you care to comment.

    Google's ToS is pretty open and makes no effort to prohibit offensive speech. Just about the only things they "ban" are illegal content.

    Facebook is very different. They have "community standards" that could range quite broadly. Not politically-oriented, though I'm sure we both know which political camp is more likely to engage in "cruel" speech.

    Funny enough, Reason itself doesn't have a robust content-based ToS policy. They just reserve the right to remove comments for any reason whatsoever. They don't purport to provide a fair or free forum for us to play in. Is that better?

  • Number 2||

    Pray tell, which side is more likely to use cruel language? Would it be, for example, the Indiana schoolteacher who invited people to join her in burning down a pizzeria owned by people who did not support same-sex marriage?

  • Azathoth!!||

    Funny enough, Reason itself doesn't have a robust content-based ToS policy. They just reserve the right to remove comments for any reason whatsoever. They don't purport to provide a fair or free forum for us to play in. Is that better?

    Yes. Infinitely better.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Sure, but the First Amendment constrains the application of the antitrust laws to them.

    And minimum wage laws were initially viewed as unconstitutional.

    If the Tech Trust keeps acting like a quasi-government entity, then all it takes is a hostile Presidential administration to decide that it's going to enforce those laws, and a session of Congress to add even more teeth to them.

  • SimonP||

    And minimum wage laws were initially viewed as unconstitutional.

    For an entirely different reason, yes...?

    If the Tech Trust keeps acting like a quasi-government entity, then all it takes is a hostile Presidential administration to decide that it's going to enforce those laws, and a session of Congress to add even more teeth to them.

    By all means, if Google is engaged in anticompetitive practices in order to maintain a monopoly in online search, e-mail, or some other of the services they provide, I don't see any reason why we should object to enforcement of the antitrust laws against them. After all, that's what's happening in Europe.

    But the idea that "deplatforming" is in some sense a violation of antitrust law is... preposterous. There's no legal theory there. It's just a blatant First Amendment violation looking for a legal rationale, like so much of what Trump says and does.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    For an entirely different reason, yes...?

    Irrelevant. Definitions change, and all it takes is for these guys to piss off the government enough to the point that their employee practices are classed as criminal.

    But the idea that "deplatforming" is in some sense a violation of antitrust law is... preposterous.

    Not if it's interpreted as such when the Tech Trust colludes to do so.

    It's just a blatant First Amendment violation looking for a legal rationale, like so much of what Trump says and does.

    Glad to see you admit that what they're doing is a First Amendment violation.

  • SimonP||

    Irrelevant. Definitions change, and all it takes is for these guys to piss off the government enough to the point that their employee practices are classed as criminal.

    Ah. I see you don't actually understand why minimum wage/maximum hour laws were deemed unconstitutional.

    Not if it's interpreted as such when the Tech Trust colludes to do so.

    Antitrust is also not something you've bothered to study.

    Glad to see you admit that what they're doing is a First Amendment violation.

    Threatening antitrust actions against Google because they don't like their search results? Yeah, seems pretty clear to me.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    It is not their right, however, to tell their customers that they are a content-neutral platform in the terms of service and then be anything but in practice. That is fraud.

    Fair and balanced -- Fox News.

    Whimpering right-wing goobers are among my favorite faux libertarians -- Rev. Kirkland.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Actually, if you look at studies of media bias during the 2016 campaign, Fox did actually come closest of all the major networks to being even handed, in the sense of giving both major party candidates about equally bad coverage. Look at figures 9 and 13: News Coverage of the 2016 General Election: How the Press Failed the Voters

    All the other outlets had much bigger disparities between their coverage of Trump and Clinton.

  • ShotgunJimbo||

    That's a pretty specific window of time and category. There's lots of other stuff in the news; and Fox viewers tend to be the most misinformed on said stuff. Pretty much all of the MSM is garbage, but Fox is by far the stinkiest part of that trash pile.

  • ||

    Pretty much all of the MSM is garbage, but Fox is by far the stinkiest part of that trash pile.

    How many questions did Fox leak to just one candidate prior to a debate (and proudly so)?

    'Most misinformed' is repeatedly shown in these 'studies' to be a bit arbitrary and even counterproductive or counterfactual. That some viewers will be considered more informed because they can name more leaders of more foreign countries while other viewers will be considered more informed because they can name more native leaders. Neither is actually more informed and few can definitively say they know what they know because of their specific media source, associatively or causally.

    Fox may be the stinkiest but when it comes to a hot, wet, stinky pile of garbage, there are plenty of characteristics to available to make several 'worst' lists.

  • Azathoth!!||

    There's lots of other stuff in the news; and Fox viewers tend to be the most misinformed on said stuff.

    Weirdly, that's only true when it comes to things like entertainment news. The left is way more in tune with who's fucking who, and who has an album/film in the works, and who's up for which awards.

    But when it comes to news about who's fucking around with people's lives Fox viewers win, hands down--even lefty Fox viewers are more knowledgeable than their peers

    It's one of those things that pops up from time to time when one of the FNM stations is trying to tell the world that being Republican is the same as being retarded--unless you're John McCain.

  • Tom Dial||

    "There is a little bit more to this than 'its their company'".

    No, actually there is not.

  • SimonP||

    "It's impossible to say for certain [whether some crackpot rightwing conspiracy theory is or isn't the case]..."

    No, look, esteemed Reason contributor, there is in fact a way to evaluate claims like these. And that begins with assessing available evidence supporting these so-called "deplatforming" claims.

    What wingnuts can't seem to grasp is that the very fact that their views are under-represented on sites and platforms helps to demonstrate how outside the mainstream and fringe their views, in fact, are. If you have to construct a very specific Google search string to come up with a story that demonstrates what you believe to be true about the world - then maybe, just maybe, you're actually wrong about the world.

    These sites have no particular reason why they should want to suppress the views of right-wing ethno-nationalists. They don't do that in any other country. Gullible idiots prone to availability bias are a great ad base. They have every reason to show you the content you so desire, you miserable fascists, just because they know you'll click the hell out of ads for Bill O'Reilly's latest screed.

  • John||

    You really don't understand how tautologies work do you? Rarely do you see a piece of dumbassery as well executed as your post.

  • SimonP||

    I'm guessing you don't even understand what a tautology is.

  • John||

    I don't have to guess that you don't know what one is. Your point is that since you can't find these views on these platforms, they must be unpopular. That is a tautology you fucking halfwit. The entire question is whether they are not available because they are unpopular or because they are being suppressed.

    We get a lot of stupid people on here but damn, once in a while we get a real doozy.

  • SimonP||

    The entire question is whether they are not available because they are unpopular or because they are being suppressed.

    So my reasoning is circular because it doesn't account for the possibility that your lunatic conspiracy theory might be correct?

    What's your evidence that conservative views are being suppressed?

  • John||

    So my reasoning is circular because it doesn't account for the possibility that your lunatic conspiracy theory might be correct?

    The reason is circular because it is circular. Repeating the same unsupported assertion doesn't make it less circular.

    RS McCain was kicked off twitter for no reason other than he objects to radical feminism

    http://pjmedia.com/video/blogg.....every-day/

    Leftwing newspapers are honest in their desire to see it happen

    http://www.sfweekly.com/topsto.....the-right/

  • SimonP||

    RS McCain was kicked off twitter for no reason other than he objects to radical feminism

    Says, uh... (checks)... RS McCain. Well, that clinches it, then!

    Leftwing newspapers are honest in their desire to see it happen

    Not relevant evidence, even if it were an accurate representation of the editorial you cited. Did you bother to read it, or did you just link it because it had a convenient headline?

  • John||

    You asked for evidence, you have it. Now show me evidence it is not happening. You have none.

  • SimonP||

    You asked for evidence, you have it. Now show me evidence it is not happening. You have none.

    You've cited absolutely no competent evidence. You've cited individuals whose accounts were shut down for ToS violations (the fact that they are vague about what it is that got them actually banned is telling...) and who are trying to capitalize on their "victimhood" by linking it up to this conspiracy theory you are all too eager to believe.

    There is plenty of evidence that Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc., aren't "deplatforming" conservative voices. They are still all over the place.

  • damikesc||

    Simon, explain the treatment of PragerU, as moderate a conservative group as exists that is almost comically polite.

  • SimonP||

    Simon, explain the treatment of PragerU, as moderate a conservative group as exists that is almost comically polite.

    Seems their videos were flagged by community users as inappropriate, and a Facebook employee reviewing those reports mistakenly removed them as violating Facebook's ToS, a move that Facebook quickly reversed and apologized for. Their Twitter, YouTube, Facebook pages all seem to be up and active currently.

    Is that the best you can do?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Now, show us where that sort of thing is happening to similar figures on the left.

  • John||

    Deplatforming works and should be tried more

    http://motherboard.vice.com/en.....-bans-work

    Then there is this guy

    http://www.theamericanconserva.....m-twitter/

    The examples are legion. Leftists threaten the lives and children of rightwing media figures on twitter every day. Go look at Dana Lousch's feed sometime and look at the unbelievable garbage and abuse that she is subjected to. And never once are they so much as suspended.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    They have every reason to show you the content you so desire, you miserable fascists, just because they know you'll click the hell out of ads for Bill O'Reilly's latest screed.

    Jesus fuck, you people really are stuck in 2006.

  • SimonP||

    The man is still writing books, so.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    And you're still a waste of carbon molecules, so.

  • SIV||

    Affixing his name to ghostwritten popular history books last I checked.

  • Nardz||

    Only one candidate ran on an explicitly fascist slogan, faggot (stronger together!)

  • damikesc||

    Why, John, I bet in the 1920's, nobody heard much about how badly blacks were treated.

    Using his logic, it probably didn't happen because nobody mentioned it.

  • Just Say'n||

    "What wingnuts can't seem to grasp is that the very fact that their views are under-represented on sites and platforms helps to demonstrate how outside the mainstream and fringe their views, in fact, are."

    How can that be when they control the vast majority of state legislative chambers, governorships, and both houses of Congress and the presidency?

  • John||

    How can that be when they control the vast majority of state legislative chambers, governorships, and both houses of Congress and the presidency?

    RUSSIANS!!

  • Just Say'n||

    You laugh, but this is Reason, the Bill Kristol approved brand of libertarianism, so I wouldn't doubt if Joe here actually believed that

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    No "if" about it. Joe certainly seems more concerned about alleged russian interference* than evidence of censorship.

    *This is the part where you're supposed to claim to be a libertarian skeptical of government while shouting at the top of your lungs that SEVENTEEN** intelligence agencies PROVED IT.

    **It was 3.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    In fact, so far as I can tell his answer to alleged Russian interference IS censorship.

  • SimonP||

    How can that be when they control the vast majority of state legislative chambers, governorships, and both houses of Congress and the presidency?

    Do I need to explain politics to you?

    Simply put, Republican representation in government does not accurately track their popular support. There are lots of reasons why that is, but not least among them would be a longstanding effort by the GOP to manipulate electoral rules to favor their own.

    No one would be worrying about a blue wave this November if the wingnuts were as firmly in power as you'd like to claim. They know they're losing the center.

  • John||

    the GOP to manipulate electoral rules to favor their own.

    God damn it they changed to rules to make it so the candidate with the most votes wins. The bastards.

  • SimonP||

    They changed the rules to make it harder to vote against them and, if you opposed them, to build winning political coalitions to defeat them. This is extremely well-documented.

    Republicans have built a huge sea wall protecting them against any blue wave this fall. Democrats need to have something like a 6-8 point advantage on the generic ballot in order to break even, against all the structural disadvantages they face. That is not how a democracy should work, but there we are.

    Never mind the whole winning-the-popular-vote but losing-the-electoral college debate. Which I'm sure you'll flip right into defending.

  • Nardz||

    The hive mind is unwell.
    Suicide is a solution.

  • damikesc||

    They changed the rules to make it harder to vote against them and, if you opposed them, to build winning political coalitions to defeat them. This is extremely well-documented.

    *lack of documentation is noted*

  • SimonP||

    I'm not your fucking tutor. I'm not here to educate you. Go read a newspaper.

  • Azathoth!!||


    I'm not your fucking tutor. I'm not here to educate you. Go read a newspaper.

    Thing is, Simon, when you read newspapers the evidence is of Democrats restructuring voting rules to create one party states, or of Democrats restructuring voting rules to make election day election month, or of Democrats restructuring voting rules so that one can register to vote ON the day they vote without any ID at all.

    Quite, frankly, Simon, ALL the evidence is of Democrats and leftists trying to rig the rules to not just favor them, but to give them the kind of wins their type usually get in most socialist juntas.

    What you and yours call "a longstanding effort by the GOP to manipulate electoral rules to favor their own" is nothing more than their ongoing effort to stop Democrat vote rigging that is so blatant that you openly argue in favor of it as if it's right.

  • ||

    No one would be worrying about a blue wave this November if the wingnuts were as firmly in power as you'd like to claim.
    ...
    Republicans have built a huge sea wall protecting them against any blue wave this fall.

    Are they protected behind a sea wall or worried that they'll be swept away by the blue wave?

    Do your straw men perform Mortal Kombat-style fatalities when they fight each other or does it usually just end with a mess of straw strewn everywhere?

  • Just Say'n||

    "There are lots of reasons why that is, but not least among them would be a longstanding effort by the GOP to manipulate electoral rules to favor their own."

    You seem to be ignoring state elections. Are we now suppose to believe that state borders were gerrymandered from the very beginning and that is why they control so many states?

  • Just Say'n||

    You should really think through this argument more, SimonP, because you sound profoundly dumb right now

  • SimonP||

    I'm not ignoring state elections. State legislative districts are gerrymandered, as well, and Republican efforts to solidify their advantages by restricting access to the ballot are widespread - down to a science, really.

    Allocation of federal power by state has structurally favored less-populous states from the beginning, it's true - the modern GOP has nothing to do with that. But winner-takes-all distribution of electoral college votes is not constitutionally mandated and is something that helps the GOP to secure its advantages, in presidential elections.

  • Just Say'n||

    "I'm not ignoring state elections. State legislative districts are gerrymandered, as well, and Republican efforts to solidify their advantages by restricting access to the ballot are widespread - down to a science, really."

    But, you really are ignoring state elections. Republicans won in states where Democrats had done the redistricting and you still fail to explain why they have the majority of governorships, even in blue states.

  • ||

    Why didn't the Democrats do anything about that when they had both houses of Congress and the Presidency in their hands? Seems like it would have been a good opportunity.

  • Lester224||

    The Democrats were not as smart as Chris Jankowski who lead the "Red Map" project:

    On what the Red Map Project was:

    "The Democrats cleaned the Republicans clocks in 2008. Republicans get depressed. One day, Chris Jankowski is reading a story in the New York Times, and he realizes, wait: 2010 is a zero year. My party is on the out now, but historically the party on the out does better in midterm elections, and Jankowski is a state government guy. He runs something called the Republican State Leadership Committee, so he understands how redistricting works at the state level. What he also understands is that there are 18 state legislative chambers in the country that the margin of control is so close that it's four votes or fewer. So he says, "Hey, it wouldn't cost me a whole lot of money to try to flip four or five legislative districts in these states.' So they go into Pennsylvania."

    "The Democrats lose the Pennsylvania House. They lose the governor's race that year, and they do not have a seat at the table when it comes to redistricting. So the maps that the Republicans draw are water-tight. And they hold up in 2012."

    "The Republicans spent $30 million on this and they were able to build themselves a firewall, a full Chamber of Congress for a decade, for less than the price of a losing Senate race in a small state."

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    What wingnuts can't seem to grasp is that the very fact that their views are under-represented on sites and platforms helps to demonstrate how outside the mainstream and fringe their views, in fact, are.

    Shitlib circular logic at its finest.

  • SimonP||

    It's circular only insofar as you assume that "mainstream" and "fringe" are defined by reference to their representation on websites like Google or Facebook. Which I don't. So.

  • Just Say'n||

    But, I thought that was exactly what you just said?

    "What wingnuts can't seem to grasp is that the very fact that their views are under-represented on sites and platforms helps to demonstrate how outside the mainstream and fringe their views, in fact, are."

    Isn't that what this means?

  • SimonP||

    Nope.

  • Just Say'n||

    How so?

  • SimonP||

    Hm, the eternal internet question... do I try to explain in text, to a reading comprehension-challenged commenter, what it is he is failing to comprehend?

  • Just Say'n||

    You haven't really explained much of anything beyond broad pronouncements

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    It's circular only insofar as you assume that "mainstream" and "fringe" are defined by reference to their representation on websites like Google or Facebook. Which I don't. So.

    the very fact that their views are under-represented on sites and platforms

    Make up your mind, shitlib.

  • SimonP||

    Online representation of one's views is evidence of how widely those views are shared by others, don't you think?

  • John||

    Online representation of one's views is evidence of how widely those views are shared by others, don't you think?

    Not if the platforms are kicking those views off it isn't. You are just assuming the conclusion and pointing to it as proof. You really don't know what circular logic is do you?

  • Just Say'n||

    What about elections? They seem to be pretty well represented there

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Online representation of one's views is evidence of how widely those views are shared by others, don't you think?

    Sure, if you're a typical solipsistic shitlib that projects more than 24-screen movie theater.

  • damikesc||

    You're arguing that ANTIFA is mainstream thought?

    Because they get less heat than conservatives get,..and Dennis Prager has brained people with bike locks considerably less frequently.

  • Just Say'n||

    "As I argued in July, privately run companies have every right to promote viewpoints they like and censor the ones they don't."

    Agreed. But, I do find this part of your write-up perplexing: "they should at least respect a private company's right to promote some views over others". Why is that exactly? You can't criticize business?

    It should be noted that libertarian voices have also been censored on Twitter and Facebook (Scott Horton and Daniel McAdams to name a few). Granted those are not the type of libertarians that are "pro-business", like yourself, but rather "pro-market".

  • John||

    Agreed. But, I do find this part of your write-up perplexing: "they should at least respect a private company's right to promote some views over others". Why is that exactly? You can't criticize business?

    That is pretty curious. Even if you set aside the antitrust and fraud issues here and say these platforms can do what they like, that doesn't mean that everyone isn't free to judge their behavior and walk away from the platforms. Isn't that how it is supposed to work?

  • Just Say'n||

    I'm also old enough to remember when being "pro-business" was a slur lobbed at conservatives by libertarians. But, beltway libertarians have truly embraced that slur

  • Hugh Akston||

    It's no longer remarkable but actually kind of banal how confident you are about your conclusions despite the lack of evidence to support them.

  • Just Say'n||

    What conclusions were made, Hugh?

  • Just Say'n||

    I appreciate your old man brand of libertarianism that is perpetually trapped in 1968 (you'll get Nixon this time Hugh), but Joe's entire argument is defending business and not markets. He even complains about "election interference" from social media, while simultaneously taking issue with people who complain about social media companies censoring them.

    So, companies are free to do what they want and we shouldn't criticize, except when Joe recites a progressive criticism about what those companies should do. Then that's different.

  • Hugh Akston||

    He even complains about "election interference" from social media

    Please provide a direct quote of Joe complaining about election interference from social media. Not reporting on the nature of current congressional hearings, not paraphrasing something that someone else said. A sentence or more of Joe expressing the proposition that election interference on social media is a real thing and is bad.

    but Joe's entire argument is defending business and not markets

    Joe's entire argument is summarized in the final sentence of this post: Social media companies may indeed be "hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas." But that's their right.

    How is that pro-business but anti-market?

  • Just Say'n||

    "It seems Trump administration is more concerned with Silicon Valley's alleged censorship of conservative viewpoints than foreign election meddling"

  • Just Say'n||

    So you've been bested again, Hugh. Back to the Weekly Standard with you

  • SIV||

    It seems the Trump administration is more concerned about Silicon Valley's alleged censorship of conservative viewpoints than foreign election meddling.

    It's always Russia...Russia...Russia with you progtards.

  • John||

    It is kind of scary that they actually believe that the Russians interfered with the election and got Trump elected. How can someone be that stupid?

  • Just Say'n||

    So, if I understand this correctly, Joe is knocking people for even merely criticizing social media companies for censoring conservatives, but then brings up "foreign election meddling" which means censoring foreigners on social media platforms.

    How is Joe not just parroting a progressive talking point and couching it in some vague pro-business conservatism?

  • DiegoF||

    You and John bring up some important and insightful points about this piece, but it does look to me that the upcoming generation is building a conservative culture that is not centered around unregulated markets any more than it is the famously declining old chestnut of religious piety. This has been building for a while, but it has seemingly been accelerating by the month over the past year. Corporate culture has solidified around a sort of Bloomberg/Soros cultural-left-friendly neoliberal consensus that is openly and rabidly hostile to and irreconcilably contemptuous of traditional working-class values, and this has awoken one hell of a reaction. I thought I'd seen everything when I saw Tucker Carlson, for instance, getting populist religion and calling for regulation of Amazon. But now in the past day if I had a nickel for every conservative I see slamming Nike's "enslavement" of its workers in sweatshops with appalling conditions and so forth, I could buy out Phil Knight himself.

  • Just Say'n||

    Conservatives were never pro-market. They have always been pro-business. The only change I've seen is a lot of beltway libertarians embracing the conservative position. And that's the position that Joe has taken here.

  • ||

    Conservatives were never pro-market. They have always been pro-business.

    Yeah - that's true. Even Grover Cleveland's "laissez-faire" involved using government troops to put down the Pullman strike, which he admitted many years later wasn't really a "laissez-faire" thing to do. Taft and Coolidge were maybe the closest we ever got.

  • Just Say'n||

    Cleveland was a Democrat and arguably the most free market president, but you're right. Even he had serious inconsistencies in his thinking.

  • ||

    Back then the Democrats were the "free market" people. The Whigs-cum-Republicans were Hamiltonians through-and-through. The Republicans didn't become the "Pro-Business" party until William Jennings Bryan attacked John-Sherman-protege and Anti-Business crusader William McKinley from the left as a pro-business establishmentarian resisting the tide of Socialism (when ironically, McKinley had run against Cleveland in '96 on an anti-business platform).

  • Just Say'n||

    Yes and the two parties have been two sides of state orchestrated markets ever since

  • ||

    Indeed. I think the most persistent and destructive delusion the American Voter labors under today is the notion that there are significant differences between the two dominant parties.

  • SIV||

    Taft and Coolidge loved them some tariffs.

  • DiegoF||

    Excellent point that I'm usually the one making myself! But is it not then newsworthy that the beltway libertarians are now moving into a very comfortable "pro-business" alliance with the increasingly bougie center-left--the group who they socialize the most with, and whose acceptance they desperately crave according to our perpetual hoots and hollers--even as the center of mainstream conservativism moves away from the pro-business position? This is one hell of a realignment.

  • Just Say'n||

    Agreed. The biggest turn off of that obviously emerging coalition is that neocons are at the heart of that alliance. Exposing a lot of the beltway types as frauds

  • Just Say'n||

    No one should be surprised by conservatives advocating for regulation. This who they are: the other side of state managed economics.

  • ||

    Corporate culture has solidified around a sort of Bloomberg/Soros cultural-left-friendly neoliberal consensus that is openly and rabidly hostile to and irreconcilably contemptuous of traditional working-class values

    Yeah, ^ this.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    it does look to me that the upcoming generation is building a conservative culture that is not centered around unregulated markets any more than it is the famously declining old chestnut of religious piety.

    When Grandma and Grandpa are hippy burnouts and Mom and Dad are tatted-up founts of left-wing conventional wisdom, then rebellion will consist of rejecting those shibboleths.

    But now in the past day if I had a nickel for every conservative I see slamming Nike's "enslavement" of its workers in sweatshops with appalling conditions and so forth

    I remember during my college days when the Boomer/Gen-X left was decrying Nike as the epitome of ruthless capitalism and complained about outsourcing of blue-collar middle-class jobs to China. Now that they control the institutions of the cultural cathedral, they're willing to overlook the sins of global corporations in exchange for the proper amount of virtue-signaling indulgences.

  • Bubba Jones||

    So... what are the actual damages if they aren't providing the search results or news feeds with the emphasis or ranking that you would prefer?

  • majil||

    The Companies should be honest about it and say " yes , we are going to put a parental warning on all prageru videos while videos showing tits and ass and people being shot can be viewed by anyone"
    honesty in advertising is all we ask . As verbal contracts no longer valid ?

  • majil||

    The Companies should be honest about it and say " yes , we are going to put a parental warning on all prageru videos while videos showing tits and ass and people being shot can be viewed by anyone"
    honesty in advertising is all we ask . As verbal contracts no longer valid ?

  • Michael Cook||

    I have been frustrated trying to google search popular narratives that are hot with conservatives for years, because the vast majority of the results popping up would be aimed at debunking the newest right wing assertions in their very cribs. This seemed a bit suspicious.....

    Then I heard about duckduckgo and signed up. when I search there it is amazing, absolutely stunning, how many authoritative and reliable conservative sources there are on almost everything!

    Who knew?

  • MasterThief||

    I've been becoming more frustrated recently by this very phenomenon. While I haven't jumped over to other search engines, there have been a lot of times where I knew the exact premise of my search was addressed on several platforms and yet the left wing refutations of them were all that popped up. Over time, it seems like conservative/right wing media has essentially been wiped out of search results. This definitely isn't due to my personal web traffic because I do seek out and read several such sites regularly. What is surprising is when I try looking up the latest controversy in neutral terms and several pages of results all come from left-wing outlets. Oddly, FOX news also pops up from time to time but only seems to show up when it more or less toes the same line.
    It's ignorant to declare that the big social media companies haven't been actively supporting of left wing politics as well as somewhat more quietly censorious of right wing politics. I'm not worried about anyone even from the kremlin posting stuff on social media. Censoring search results is more concerning to me because for most people it is effectively censoring the internet. I oppose ISP's doing that, I oppose any private search engine doing it, and I sure as hell oppose the government doing it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Regardless, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    "Improper thing" would probably work better there.

  • Rockabilly||

    I, a Russian Robot, have multiple accounts on the facebook, the twitter, and the youtube from which I brainwash the peoples of America.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Regulators Want to Know: Are Social Media Companies 'Intentionally Stifling' Conservatives?"

    Duh. I checked shadowbanned.eu. I come up banned in all their ban checks.

    But it's not really "conservatives" who get banned.
    It's the nationalist populists who get banned.
    The folks who believe in self government.
    The folks opposing our globalist overlords.
    Neocons don't get banned.

  • MasterThief||

    Limited government. Pro traditional value conservatism certainly sees a lot more questionable censorship than the opposite opinions. I'd lump in having strong offensive capabilities as a defensive strategy to be among the core principles of conservatism (even if it's the biggest issue with libertarianism.)
    I don't think anyone reasonably looking into the issue cannot see that there is a bias on most of these big platforms and that it effectively functions as leftist/statist propaganda. The sad part of it is that the people who most need to hear these dissenting viewpoints smugly believe there are none because they have effectively been eliminated from exposure.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    "It seems the Trump administration is more concerned about Silicon Valley's alleged censorship of conservative viewpoints than foreign election meddling."
    Well according to the feds that "meddling" consisted of a handful of poorly executed gifs and vids that likely had no effect on the election whatsoever. A few foreign nationals were indicted on peripheral charges none of which will ever be adjudicated in a U.S. courtroom. So why exactly should Trump should be concerned?

  • XM||

    It's going to be awful hard to be transparent when individual employees (in the case of Twitter and maybe FB) have power to shut down content based on complaints after a cursory review. The algorithm is less than perfect to begin with.

    Youtube can demonetize someone's channel over a few words of images taken out of context.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Social media companies may indeed be "hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas." But that's their right.

    Now do Disney and Gunn. Or the NFL.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "It's impossible to say for certain whether or not internet platforms are censoring conservatives."

    Eh, you just want to avoid admitting it. After what FB did to Prager U, it's not really an open question.

  • ||

    It's not just Prager U or necessarily traditional conservative*s*. Youtube took down plenty of non-violent, apolitical gun and shooting channels, and you don't have to throw a rock very far to find a 'classic liberal' who's said something modestly conservative and felt the heat from any given social media platform for not toeing the line hard enough.

  • Lester224||

    Look out. Regulations in support of your political goals are still regulations. They will backfire when your political enemies are in power.

  • Lester224||

    Look out. Regulations in support of your political goals are still regulations. They will backfire when your political enemies are in power.

  • Curly4||

    Not enough with the conservatives being the largest threat to the freedom of the us and its democracy.

  • SwampBoy||

    The conservatives had me until they turned away Patreon and created Hatreon (pronounced hate-reaon).

    What a stupid fucking way to make liberals look immature with their banning and shadow ban policies. Maybe it's a sign that conservatives aren't much different from the progressives they claim to be freeing us from.

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