Guess who interfered in U.S. elections dozens of times

 April 23, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Election interference?

Facebook probably could offer a good how-to course, given that a new study has confirmed the web giant did exactly that – 39 times since 2008.

Newsbusters has explored the research of the MRC Free Speech America effort to review what's happened in American elections.

Those researchers "compiled 39 times Facebook was caught interfering in U.S. elections since 2008."

These actions surged in 2012, then reached a "crescendo" in 2020 and happened all the while Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg was claiming free speech ideologies.

It also was Zuckerberg who, during the 2020 election, handed out some $400 million plus to various election officials to help them deal with COVID. They mostly used it to recruit Joe Biden voters.

Zuckerberg has claimed, "We can either continue to stand for free expression understanding its messiness but believing that the long journey towards greater progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us. Or we can decide that the cost is simply too great. I'm here today because I believe that we must continue to stand for free expression."

Further, he claimed he believes politically centered censorship is dangerous.

"Yet, from 2012 through 2024, Facebook has vacillated between a hands-off approach to free speech online and repeated election interference through policy changes and outright censorship of political candidates and ideas," Newsbusters noted.

Highlights of the MRC evidence include that Facebook suspended a Veteran PAC in 2012 for a meme about the disastrous loss of American lives in Benghazi.

According to the MRC report, "Facebook suspended the account of Special Operations Speaks, a veteran-led PAC. The group had posted a meme reminding its followers that Navy SEALs were denied backup during the tragic terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The meme showed pictures of then-President Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden along with the words 'Obama called on the SEALs and THEY got bin Laden. When the SEALs called on Obama THEY GOT DENIED.'"

Facebook claimed its removal was not, in fact, censorship.

Then came 2016.

MRC said, "In 2016, Facebook censored then-Democratic Party candidate for president Bernie Sanders and 'conservative topics' and news. Facebook used to have a trending section on its website that included trending news manually curated by contractors. Several of the curators who worked for Facebook in 2014 and 2015 told Gizmodo the articles that appeared in Facebook’s Trending News section often depended on the biases of the curator and what Facebook wanted to be trending at the time. 'Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,' a former curator who asked to remain anonymous said. 'I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz.' Stories about then-presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) were also reportedly excluded."

During the 2018 midterms, the report said, "Facebook removed ads for Sen. (then-Rep.) Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), and Michigan State Senate Republican candidate Aric Nesbitt. The platform additionally censored an ad promoting border security paid for by then-President Donald Trump. Similarly, the platform reportedly removed a video promoting an AR-15 giveaway that Senate candidate Austin Petersen (R-MO) was conducting on his website."

At its peak political activism in 2020, Facebook's work "exploded."

"The platform censored posts and ads from then-sitting President Donald Trump at least four times and took down seven political ads paid for by the political right. One of these ad campaigns Facebook killed just over a month before the election. The ad reportedly pointed out the incongruence between Democrats’ open borders and COVID-19 lockdown policies."

The MRC said, "[The] 2020 election interference came to a head, however, when the platform censored the New York Post’s bombshell Hunter Biden report documenting the Biden family’s financial scandals and then ultimately placed an indefinite suspension on then-sitting President Trump’s accounts shortly into 2021."

The Facebook censorship continued into 2022, when it targeted mostly Republicans including Rep. (then candidate) Rich McCormick of Georgia, Virginia GOP congressional candidate Jarome Bell, Tennessee GOP congressional candidate Robby Starbuck, and Missouri GOP U.S. Senate candidate Eric Greitens.

What's up in 2024?

"Facebook and Instagram are limiting users’ access to political content. Meta already began limiting its distribution of political content in 2022 but has continued to lean into that in the lead-up to the 2024 election. In February, Meta announced that Instagram and Threads (a new social media platform owned by Meta) will no longer recommend political content by default, but users can opt into having such content promoted to them. … Although the move sounds harmless, it makes it more difficult for those who produce political content to grow their page and for more viewers to decide for themselves whether or not they want to follow that content."

WND reported only weeks earlier that Pamela San Martin, a member of Meta’s Oversight Board, in an interview with Wired, demanded more censorship.

"Even though we're addressing the problems that arose in prior elections as a starting point," she said, "It is not enough."

She claimed, "Between the U.S. election [in 2020] to the Brazilian election [in 2022], Meta had not done enough to address the potential misuse of its platforms through coordinated campaigns, people organizing, or using bots on the platforms to convey a message to destabilize a country, to create a lack of trust or confidence on electoral processes."

Wired blasted Facebook in its report, for not doing enough, with, "Meta, in particular, with some 3 billion users across WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, is a uniquely powerful force in shaping the global information ecosystem. In 2016, the platform took center stage for its seemingly central role in propelling Donald Trump into the White House. Sensitive to criticism that it had not done enough to protect American democracy, Meta invested in new tools and processes to try and keep election-related misinformation and disinformation off its platforms during the 2020 presidential election. But once the race was over, reporting from OneZero at the time found that Stop the Steal groups continued to balloon in the weeks after the 2020 election. The company rolled back many of these new mitigating strategies, allowing narratives that questioned the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s win to circulate in the lead-up to the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021. And despite the violence on January 6, Meta has continued to allow ads that question the results of the 2020 US election."

However, Facebook was not even the chief among offenders.

WND reported when the Media Research Center reported researchers found 41 times when Google interfered in American elections.

Dan Schneider, MRC's Free Speech America vice president, and Gabriela Pariseau, editor, said in a summary, "MRC researchers have found 41 times where Google interfered in elections over the last 16 years, and its impact has surged dramatically, making it evermore harmful to democracy. In every case, Google harmed the candidates – regardless of party – who threatened its left-wing candidate of choice."

Their report continued, "From the mouths of Google executives, the tech giant let slip what was never meant to be made public: That Google uses its 'great strength and resources and reach' to advance its leftist values. Google’s outsized influence on information technology, the body politic, and American elections became evident in 2008. After failing to prevent then-candidate for president Donald Trump from being inaugurated following the 2016 election, Google has since made clear to any discerning observer that it has been — and will continue — interfering in America’s elections."

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