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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Columns

Facebook and other social media un-like conservatism


This past month, former Facebook employees told the conservatives of the world something they already knew: Facebook doesn’t like conservatives very much.

Now, this article isn’t meant as a call to action against Facebook — it’s a private company and I have no qualms with a private company putting out its own product. It’s how the free market is supposed to work.

My problem comes when the bias is not overtly reported, when a company hides behind non-partiality but acts otherwise, effectively silencing conservatives.

Censorship runs rampant

This isn’t the first time that conservatives have been censored on social media. Early this year, Twitter announced its Trust and Safety Council — a name you’d expect to find in a George Orwell novel and not a social media site — and something Biz Stone, Twitter co-founder, would hopefully disapprove of.

Included in the Trust and Safety Council is the non-biased — obvious sarcasm — Anita Sarkeesian.

The council has been controversial in its operation. There has been the de-verification of Milo Yiannopoulos, notable gay conservative and tech editor at Breitbart, which doesn’t seem too bad until you realize it happened because he refuses to say the “right things.”

Yiannopoulos has a history of inflammatory statements, including his famous slogan, “Feminism is cancer.” He also unabashedly supports Donald Trump, going as far as to refer to the mogul as “Daddy,” and has no problem tweeting non-politically correct things.

He’s also not a stranger to Sarkeesian, as they were (and still are) bitter enemies during GamerGate.

Then there’s the deactivation of Robert Stacy McCain, a self-proclaimed “men’s rights activist” and an outspoken conservative, whose only real violation was saying “mean things.” He is best known for being a provocateur on feminism, but he found himself unwittingly banned for “participating in targeted abuse” that Twitter cannot seem to prove.

I’d love to show you some of his tweets, but Twitter has eradicated them.

Neither has ever threatened violence nor did they actively break community guidelines. They just spoke their mind.

Let me restate this because it’s important: I’m all for letting discrimination on the basis of political belief happen as long as the person discriminating is willing to scream it out loud. So when Facebook is accused of censoring such topics as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Mitt Romney, Lois Lerner and Rand Paul, I am upset but not shocked.

A brewing battle

In the social media war, the higher-ups hide behind their curtain of so-called non-bias while letting their political views edge into the purported free zone of social media. Conservatives, on the other hand, are denied the chance to spread their ideas without fear of suppression.

And Facebook has been caught doing this before.

In 2015, Shurat HaDin set up an experiment to see whether Facebook held to its community guidelines. The result indicated that Facebook was more likely to censor a page supporting Israel than that of a page supporting Palestine. Facebook has a clear bias, but they refuse to say so.

Again, social media companies can do whatever they want as long as they say it out loud. But when social media companies have people like Anita Sarkeesian deciding if what people say is appropriate, it’s time to recheck the definition of “free.”

This everyday suppression isn’t just obviously annoying; it’s killing the necessary exchange of political ideas and making sure only one is presented. You must have free dialogue to have a free and open country. Otherwise, you get trapped in an idiocracy.

The constant, unfettered suppression of conservative voices has created an anger that can only be quelled with the downfall of the people running these “fair” social media networks. And under that frustration, people like Donald Trump rise.

Silencing conservative voices isn’t making them disappear — it’s just making people like Trump and people like the alt-right surface. Squashing these voices destroys both the conservatives and liberals. How long is it until someone like Sargon of Akkad gets banned?

Maybe things will change for Facebook after this public embarrassment. But progressives have never been known to be accepting of conservative ideas, and no one should trust them this time, too.

Opinion columnist Jorden Smith is a political science junior and president of the College Republicans. He can be reached at [email protected]

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