President Trump is a man of his word.
He’s been demonstrating that character trait throughout his tenure on Pennsylvania Avenue by honoring the many promises he’s made to the American people — including his recent pledge to protect free speech, a fundamental right critical to a democracy.
On Wednesday, the White House launched an online platform where Americans can report if they believe they’re being wrongfully censored or discriminated against on social media networks and other online forums. This much-needed measure gives Americans an opportunity to share their experiences, which will provide the Trump administration and government officials with important information to combat the pervasive political bias taking place on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and elsewhere, disproportionally affecting conservatives.
It’s well-known that social media companies — run by radical left-wing activists — are silencing conservatives en masse who do not violate their terms of service. This egregious discrimination and political censorship is un-American and violates our rights to free speech. It also impacts elections by giving members of one political party access to millions of voters during an election season where shaping public opinion can flip votes — while muting political rivals.
All Americans must pay attention to this important issue and combat shadow-banning and other forms of unjust censorship. Because if power brokers at Silicon Valley social media networks can silence conservatives to shape public discourse and assist candidates of their choosing — they can do the same to Democrats, independents, socialists and libertarians.
Take the 2016 presidential election. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said publicly she wanted Hillary Clinton “to win badly.” If Facebook today is suppressing conservative content and opinion on its platform — as many users report — how do we know the social media giant with tens of millions of users in the U.S. didn’t also shadow ban and/or censor supporters of Clinton’s primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, tilting the outcome of the Democratic primary?
Answer: We don’t. All the more reason the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice should be examining social media platforms’ practices surrounding free speech and censorship to protect the integrity of our democracy and electoral system.
It’s common throughout the nation for many political races to come down to just a few thousand votes between opposing candidates — or at times, even less. Now consider if one political candidate’s posts and tweets were being blocked online — where most Americans get their news. Clearly, that could impact the outcome of an election, especially if many of the candidate’s supporters were also censored and/or shadow-banned online.
All the more reason Democrats should be watching this issue closely and defending conservatives’ rights to free speech, as they could also be victims of similar censorship and discrimination, both now and in the future.
If social media giants and the powerful folks at Google and other Silicon Valley tech companies are putting their thumb on the scale using algorithms, politically biased human content monitors and other opaque methods to influence political discourse today — and, ultimately, U.S. elections — it’s only a matter of time before Democrats are also caught in their censorship trap.
In America today, there are 22 Democratic candidates running for president. If the powerful folks in Silicon Valley — with access to over a billion people online — prefer one candidate over the other, will they abuse their power by muting rivals?
Conservatives already know Twitter, Facebook and other networks are suppressing their beliefs, opinions and ideologies that run counter to their rigid, politically correct liberal orthodoxy. The big question is are Democrats and other Americans also being affected?
The White House’s latest questionnaire addressing censorship and political bias online is a step in the right direction of getting to the bottom of it.
Something all freedom loving Americans should applaud.
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.
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