Following a month of conservative censorship from social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, President Donald Trump is using those very same online services to fight back, demanding on Twitter on Saturday that social media platforms allow “good & bad” content in the name of fairness and free speech.
Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others…….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2018
Enough is enough
Facebook came under fire in late July for suspending the account of Alex Jones, a controversial far-right-wing conspiracist with a popular self-titled daily radio program. Weeks later, Gavin McInnes, a conservative pundit and founder of a nationalist group that disavows violence and racism, was banned from Twitter.
Despite numerous congressional hearings examining the censorship of conservative voices on social media, representatives from both platforms have stood by their decisions to ban Jones and McInnes.
“Our Community Standards make it clear that we prohibit content that encourages physical harm [bullying], or attacks someone based on their religious affiliation or gender identity [hate speech],” Facebook explained, although they did not provide specific examples of Jones’ threatening behavior.
Devilish double standard
While the leftist media has produced plenty of evidence demonstrating that Jones supports some pretty heinous conspiracy theories, the argument that he is likewise producing “hate speech” is unconvincing. Arguing that Twitter should have followed Facebook’s example and banned Jones because their rules prohibit content “that degrades someone,” CNN’s Oliver Darcy pointed to statements from Jones linking pedophilia to homosexuality and calling the medieval Crusades “defensive” in nature.
But these statements hardly qualify as the threats of “physical harm.” While controversial, Jones never asks his supporters to attack anyone, nor does he demand that anyone is deprived of employment, segregated, or otherwise discriminated against in any manner.
McInnes’ ban is even more baffling. A spokesman for Twitter confirmed that the conservative pundit had his account suspended for violating company policy “prohibiting violent extremist groups.”
For this claim, Twitter cited his links to the Proud Boys, an organization that the leftist media describes as an “alt-right” hate group, though known racists like Unite the Right founder Jason Kessler have been kicked out of the group for making racially provocative statements, and McInnes himself has spoken out against the violence at last year’s rally in Charlottesville, VA.
To make the case that the Proud Boys and McInnes don’t belong on Twitter, multiple news outlets referenced the conclusions of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), who said that the group “regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists.”
But therein lies the problem: Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Google each consult the SPLC to determine what constitutes hate speech on their platforms. An Amazon spokeswoman told The Daily Caller outright: “We remove organizations that the SPLC deems as ineligible.”
However, the SPLC is hardly an unbiased arbiter of counter-extremism. The organization has courted controversy in the past for branding people as “extremist” and calling legitimate organizations “hate groups,” sheepishly retracting numerous articles that condemn mainstream political figures like current Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson.
Meanwhile, people like Somali-born women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Politico’s Ben Schreckinger have questioned the SPLC’s mission. Ali, who made one of the SPLC’s hate lists for her work condemning Islamic supremacy and misogyny, described the SPLC as “an organization that has lost its way, smearing people who are fighting for liberty and turning a blind eye to an ideology and political movement that has much in common with Nazism.”
And Schreckinger tore down the hate speech watchdog in a June 2017 article that asked if civil rights organizations like the SPLC have lost their way. He wrote for Politco: “At a time when the line between ‘hate group’ and mainstream politics is getting thinner and the need for productive civil discourse is growing more serious, fanning liberal fears, while a great opportunity for the SPLC, might be a problem for the nation.”
For his part, President Trump has had enough of this partisan censorship. In a tweet on Saturday, he called censorship “a very dangerous thing” that is “absolutely impossible to police.”
“If you are weeding out Fake News,” he continued, “there is nothing so Fake as CNN [and] MSNBC, [and] yet I do not ask that their sick behavior be removed. I get used to it and watch with a grain of salt, or don’t watch at all.”