Powerful forces threateniong free and open exchanges of public communications have infiltrated social media.
No, I’m not referring only to Russia, China, North Korea, and Iranian mullahs.
Those threats are lurking in secret algorithms in the darkness of shadow bans, and are hidden under Google censorship platforms.
Top tech executives, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, were grilled during a Sept. 6 U.S. Senate open hearing regarding their companies’ roles in intentionally stifling conservative voices on their social media platforms.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google was invited to testify, but declined — leaving a third adjacent seat conspicuously empty.
This hearing topic should be recognized to be much larger and fundamentally more important than which direction any ideological bias favors — whether to the political left or right.
These companies, which hold monopolistic control over social media and search platforms, wield tremendous influence over our open access to all public and private information and opinion discussions.
Their status as corporate — rather government — entities, entitles them to determine what we are allowed to see, what we are not allowed to see, and from whom, entirely at their own discretion. Moreover, they can do so without having to justify their specific-case decisions, or to explain their rationale.
In 2012, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff issued a report recommending a lawsuit against Google — which controls 90 percent of all Internet searches — for anti-competitive conduct. The commission, led by Barack Obama appointee Jon Leibowitz, subsequently voted against it.
Together, Facebook and Google which control 60 percent of all digital ad revenues, have used their market dominance to undercut competitors. Facebook has arbitrarily blocked publishers from promoting factual and opinion content on its news stream by tagging certain ads as "political."
The Western Journal.com has documented recent Facebook News Feed algorithm changes which disproportionately handicap the abilities of Republican members of Congress to communicate with their constituents, relative to Democratic counterparts.
Following the January modifications, Republican interaction rates on Facebook pages decreased 37 percent, compared with a drop of just over 27 percent for Democratically-operated pages.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the undisclosed algorithm changes would focus on news from "trustworthy" publications that people find "informative."
Responding to accusations that Twitter discriminates against conservatives, Jack Dorsey admitted during an Aug. 18 CNN interview, "We need to constantly show that we are not adding our own bias, which I fully admit is left-leaning." He added, "But the real question behind the question is, are we doing something according to political ideology or viewpoints? And we are not. Period."
Given all the Twitter tweeting traffic emanating from the Oval Office, that’s probably a very prudent business decision. Nevertheless, this doesn’t explain why numerous scholarly and informative PragerU.com videos posted on Twitter and Google’s YouTube were removed as "hate speech."
The rational for "hate speech," as Facebook puts it, is "dehumanizing language."
Yet none of the 50 or so censored videos — with as many as three million followers — included violent, sexually explicit or hateful content violating Google’s stated Community Guidelines.
YouTube’s algorithms and "community" of users can flag videos as objectionable.
Although those guidelines require an internal review team to remove them, one of their central policing members, the ultra-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), has a habit of labeling virtually all conservative organizations and commentators as hate groups.
Google’s transparently left-leaning tilt is impossible to ignore.
The company went all-in for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential elections.
Company employees donated $1.6 million to her campaign, and Eric Schmidt, Google’s Executive Chairman from 2001 to 2015, provided direct political data analytics support.
President Trump has accused social media companies of "totally discriminating" against conservatives. In one tweet he said, "they are closing down the opinions of many people on the right, while at the same time doing nothing to others."
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he plans to gather state attorneys general on Sept. 25 "to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms."
In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, called for the agency to specifically investigate Google for possible antitrust behavior, which he called "disquieting." It appears likely that the FTC will reopen a broader big tech probe which can potentially lead to oversight by government monitors.
Hence, we, all American citizens — ideologically left, right and center — face a common dilemma. Daily deep state revelations demonstrate unacceptable perils of further extending government influence over our lives.
Paradoxically, it should also be similarly unsettling to continue to allow powerful politically-weaponized social media companies, unbounded by cherished constitutional First Amendment free speech rights, to unaccountably silence whomever they like.
There are no easy answers.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2012). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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