A group of influential conservatives gathered recently to bring attention to Facebook, Google, and Twitter for censoring certain voices on their platforms. For example, Twitter recently banned leading black conservative Candace Owens for opposing Michigan's harsh pandemic clampdown. The media giants often target those downplaying the coronavirus threat and pushing to get America back to work quicker.
What They Believe: Truth
What Others Believe: False
As Media Research Center's Brent Bozell said at a webinar MRC hosted, the prevailing criticism against these social media platforms is they appear to believe they have a corner on the truth.
"When you take issues like gender, like abortion, like climate change, like guns – there is on the left-hand side of the spectrum a position where there's just truth and falsehood: like 'climate change is settled science,' 'gender is not man and woman'," Bozell stated.
"This is really dangerous, what's going on," said Kelly Shackelford of First Liberty Institute. "I think we've all seen it during the pandemic when they began censoring information, when people began sharing information, which is the best of what America does."
Shackelford's legal group takes First Amendment and religious rights cases, and lots of them. "Tons of people seem to be constantly coming to us about their being censored on a number of these platforms – Facebook and others. And it's very disturbing," he said.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warned these internet overlords are few in number but could grow to be unstoppable.
Small in Numbers, but as Large as Whole Nations
"If you'll remember, the Founders of this country were fearful of power in the hands of too few people," Paxton said.
He continued, "Some of these companies are as large as countries. And so it's quite the challenge when some of these companies have so much money, so much power that they can literally hire anybody they want to and they can almost do whatever they want."
Shackelford added, "We've got a situation here with a handful of powerful barons of industry that are controlling all of our communication."
Marjorie Dannenfelser's abortion-fighting organization Susan B. Anthony List works to put pro-life candidates in office, like placing ads during the 2018 midterms.
"Our ads were taken down 13 times, and this was right on the run-up to the election," she pointed out.
Of this censoring and silencing, Bozell said, "When it is political, it is stridently anti-conservative, where conservatives generally feel they're being targeted. Like Barack Obama wasn't targeted; Donald Trump has been targeted."
Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn personally experienced that targeting.
"We had a team at Google that referred to me as a 'terrorist' because of my conservative values and stance," Blackburn told the Webinar audience. "But we understand that conservative women are kind of the archenemy if you will of these liberals."
"Senator Blackburn herself was targeted for wanting to talk about the Right to Life issue," Bozell added.
"It's very hard to have the marketplace of ideas if the government allows a handful of private industries to control everything and to censor whatever they wish," Shackelford contended.
Could 'Lose the Very Heart of What America Is'
He concluded, "If we lose that marketplace of ideas, we lose the very heart of what America is."
Bozell attacked a new oversight board Facebook is putting together to oversee content removal and disputes, saying, "The more Facebook attempts to monitor free speech, the more it is, in fact, controlling free speech."
He pointed out conservatives are vastly outnumbered on this board, stating, "And when that control is at this point nine-to-one leftist, and some of them radical leftist, and some anti-American leftist over conservatives, our position is they're not an objective platform."
Bozell also complained this board is made up mainly of folks from other countries, explaining, "But the 'free speech' in other countries is quite limited. And that 'free speech' is going to decide free speech in the United States."
The Media Research Center president insisted all these problems with controlling, censoring, and silencing speech could be remedied if these internet titans would just follow the First Amendment: unfettered free speech.
As Bozell summed it up, "The rule in the United States of America is 'let people speak'."
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