But they have a problem: the First Amendment. The government can’t suppress conservative speech on the ground that it is “hate speech,” i.e., something that liberals don’t like. That was recently reaffirmed by a 9-0 decision of the Supreme Court.
So liberals have outsourced censorship of the internet to the tech titans of Silicon Valley.
Unfortunately, most political conversation these days occurs not on the “free” internet, where independent sites like Power Line reside, but rather on social media–Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on. Other players include Google (in its search capacity), Apple, Pinterest, Spotify, etc. Happily–if you are a leftist–all of these tech companies are run by liberals. And because they are private companies, they are not constrained by the First Amendment. They can restrict or ban conservative communications on the ground that they are “hate speech,” or on no grounds whatsoever, with impunity.
And that is exactly what they are doing. This is a big topic. I brought it up this morning while hosting the Laura Ingraham radio show, and it blew up, ultimately consuming half of the three-hour show. Many aspects of the left’s outsourcing of censorship to liberal-run corporations need to be explored, but for now, this is an astonishing example: “Silicon Valley Strikes Back: Facebook Censors PragerU After Google Lawsuit.”
Dennis Prager is probably the foremost public intellectual of our time. His Prager University has been wildly successful. It brings a much-needed conservative antidote to the liberal nonsense to which so many Americans, especially young people, are subjected. That has made Prager a key target of the Left.
It started when YouTube downgraded PragerU’s videos. Weird: PragerU’s videos are enormously popular, and YouTube makes money when people watch videos. Moreover, PragerU’s videos are among the most high-quality, intellectually sound productions on YouTube. Nevertheless, YouTube (which is owned by Google) has tried to suppress traffic to PragerU’s products. PragerU has sued Google as a result. So this is the latest:
Facebook has shadow banned PragerU into complete silence to its more than 3 million followers, internal analytics revealed.
“Our last 9 posts have been completely censored reaching 0 of our 3 million followers,” PragerU media personality Will Witt posted on Facebook Friday. “At least two of our videos were deleted last night for ‘hate speech’ including a post of our most recent video with The Conservative Millennial, Make Men Masculine Again.”
“Internal Facebook analytics reveal that as of Thursday, Aug. 16, at 10:00 PM PDT, posts by PragerU on the social media platform have been completely invisible to its more than 3 million followers,” PragerU reported in a news release Friday. “Currently, visitors to PragerU’s Facebook page are unable to see any of its most recent posts.”
“This is a first for us,” PragerU Chief Marketing Officer Craig Strazzeri said in a statement. “While we’ve experienced blatant discrimination from Google/YouTube, which is why we’ve filed legal action against them, this represents a whole new level of censorship by Facebook. at this point, Facebook has provided little clarity saying it will get back to us in another two to three business days, which in the world of social media might as well be an eternity.”
Tech titans stick together. Two weeks ago, Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify simultaneously “de-platformed” Alex Jones and Infowars. Twitter held out briefly, and then, in response to demands from liberals, also banned Jones and Infowars. I have never paid attention to Infowars and have no idea whether its content has merit. But simultaneous bans and suspensions across platforms can hardly be coincidental. The phrase “combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade” comes to mind.
In any event, any claim by the Left that companies aligned with it are merely cleansing themselves of disreputable content would be absurd. First, PragerU is among the most reputable content on the internet. Second, they have taken no action against left-wing extremists like the fascist Antifa, which disseminates its hate speech freely on every social media platform I am aware of.
The Left’s attempt to outsource censorship to its Silicon Valley allies is one of the most important issues of our time. The proper solution may lie in creating competitive platforms, or in legislative, regulatory or judicial action. Perhaps platforms fitting a particular legal definition should be regulated as public utilities. After all, Federal Express doesn’t refuse to deliver packages to the National Review office on the ground that they may contain conservative communications, and telephone companies haven’t tried to cut off connections when two conservatives are talking. Why should Facebook, Twitter and YouTube be permitted to engage in political discrimination?
That is a big topic for another day.