Free speech, free press, freedom of religion are all under siege
WASHINGTON – Hillary Clinton apparently has given up her dream of becoming president of the United States.
Asked last Friday if she could choose to be chief executive officer of any company in America, she spontaneously blurted out what her new dream job would be – running Facebook.
It’s understandable if you know Clinton’s past.
Remember, she coined the term “vast right-wing conspiracy” in a 1995 report called “The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce,” commissioned by the Democratic National Committee and distributed by the White House in an effort to deflect the impact of independent investigative reporting into Clinton administration scandals including the use of the Internal Revenue Service to target political opposition, the Monica Lewinsky investigation, the Whitewater probe, threats by administration officials against businesses of loss of government contracts for funding political opposition and more.
Most notable in the report was the concern Clinton would later express publicly that the pre-2000 Internet had “no gatekeepers” and too much “unregulated data.”
“The internet has become one of the major and most dynamic modes of communication,” the report warned. “The internet can link people, groups and organizations together instantly. Moreover, it allows an extraordinary amount of unregulated data and information to be located in one area and available to all. The right wing has seized upon the internet as a means of communicating its ideas to people. Moreover, evidence exists that Republican staffers surf the internet, interacting with extremists in order to exchange ideas and information.”
Flash forward to last Friday. The 2016 Democratic presidential candidate appeared at Harvard to receive the Radcliffe Medal, which honors people who’ve “had a transformative impact on society.” Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, asked Clinton which company she would most like to serve as CEO.
Without batting an eye, she responded, “Facebook – I just wanna add, it’s the biggest news platform in the world. Most people in our country get their news – true or not – from Facebook. Now Facebook is trying to take on some of the unexpected consequences of their business model, and I hope they get it right because it really is critical to our democracy that people get accurate information on which to make decisions.”
Of course, Clinton has blamed the influence of fake news and Russian bots on Facebook, among other factors, for her loss of the 2016 presidential election.
Still the gatekeeper, Clinton recognized an opportunity to control the flow of information when she saw one. She would still like to have the power to determine which news is true and which is not. Don’t be surprised if she gets her wish, because Facebook – along with Google, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon – represent a new “Censorship Cartel” seemingly determined to limit, restrict, define, regulate, inhibit, reduce and restrain the free flow of political speech despite its constitutional protection in the First Amendment.
If Hillary Clinton ever got the job of truth gatekeeper at Facebook, it would only be a matter of making things official. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder, chairman and current chief executive officer, is doing a fine job constraining political speech on perhaps the world’s biggest and most important forum for the exchange of ideas. And when you combine the reach and power of Facebook with the like-minded corporate cultures of Google, Twitter and Amazon, you have an unofficial “Censorship Cartel” that is threatening to render the First Amendment effectively null and void.
Let’s look at some examples:
Matt Margolis is a best-selling author and contributor to PJ Media. When he tried to advertise his latest book, “The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama,” on Facebook the company banned him for a week for “spamming.” Facebook never explained how paying for advertising is “spamming.” Now Facebook is doing it to him again. This time Margolis attempted to buy an ad for the re-released and updated version of his “The Worst President in History; The Legacy of Barack Obama.” After filling out the appropriate form, Margolis received this response from Facebook: “Your ad was not approved because your Page has not been authorized to run ads with political content. What to do: Complete the authorization process.”
“I began the verification/authentication process because, frankly, I just wanted to get the ad up,” Margolis told PJM. “But as I proceeded, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the information they were asking for, and, given their record of bias toward conservatives, I wondered what they would really do with that information.” Facebook wanted his home address, both sides of his driver’s license (unredacted) and his Social Security number.
When PJM contacted Facebook about the situation, it was sent the company’s new policy on “political ads” which, in part, states:
“Any advertiser running election-related or issue ads who is located in or targeting people in designated countries must complete the authorization process required by Facebook. This applies to any ad that:
- Is made by, on behalf of or about a current or former candidate for public office, a political party, a political action committee or advocates for the outcome of an election to public office; or
- Relates to any election, referendum or ballot initiative, including “get out the vote” or election information campaigns; or
- Relates to any national legislative issue of public importance in any place where the ad is being run; or
- Is regulated as political advertising.”
After reviewing Margolis’ ad, a representative from Facebook sent an email explaining that the company stands by its decision that it’s a “political ad” because it contains a picture of the president. Further, the company explained: “This is important because it will make it more difficult for anyone to do what the Russians did during the 2016 election.”
Just a fluke? Hardly. A Gizmodo report dating back to 2016 revealed the pattern that had already emerged at Facebook two years ago. Former employees explained how “news curators” had been instructed to hide conservative content from the “trending” section, which supposedly only features news users find compelling. Topics that had been blacklisted included the Conservative Political Action Conference, Glenn Beck, Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul, while “Black Lives Matter” was placed into the trending section even though it was not actually trending. As you will learn in this report, Facebook’s practice of deliberate political manipulation of the news has only gotten worse since 2016. While Facebook is still obsessed by the notion that Russians somehow impacted the U.S. presidential election in 2016, the response recently included limiting the distribution of legitimate political speech, which includes advertising from the U.S., in the recent Irish referendum on abortion.
What about Twitter, President Trump’s medium of choice? James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas recently caught Twitter staffers admitting on hidden camera that they had been censoring conservatives through a technique known as “shadow banning,” in which users think their content is getting seen widely, but it’s not. The staffers had justified it by claiming the accounts had been automated if they contained words such as “America” and “God.”
What about Google, the world’s most powerful search engine? Combined with Facebook, the two companies control an astonishing 75 percent of the digital advertising market, which should send shivers down the spines of those government regulators who once worried about cross-ownership of newspapers, radio stations and television stations in individual U.S. media markets. Given that Google may indeed be the most diversified platform for the distribution of news and opinion in the history of the world, with its control of hosting services, digital advertising delivery and search dominance, it’s alarming to know who the company relies on for its political gatekeeping expertise – the Southern Poverty Law Center, an extremist group denounced for its conspiratorial labeling of so-called “haters,” “racists” and “fascists” who have included Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and, most notably, the Family Research Council, which suffered an armed attack on its Washington headquarters by an assailant who intended to murder every staffer and executive in the office after being inspired by the inflammatory rhetoric of the SPLC. Google, its subsidiary YouTube, Twitter and Amazon, shockingly, all employ the SPLC as a consultant on dealing with “offensive” content.
Google’s corporate culture is no different. Google fired engineer James Damore for criticizing the company’s “Ideological Echo Chamber.” The company claimed he was fired for “advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” Damore is suing Google, saying it mistreats whites, males and conservatives.
It’s not just political speech at risk because of the activities of the “Censorship Cartel.” It’s also constitutionally protected religious speech, as we witnessed last month in the case of the small Christian publishing house, Concordia, which was told by Google that its remarketing ads were “disabled due to a violation of Google’s policy for advertising based on interests and location.” Remarketing ads reach out to individuals who have made a decision to visit a website. Google defines this as showing “ads to people who’ve visited your website or used your mobile app. When people leave your website without buying anything, for example, remarketing helps you reconnect with them by showing relevant ads across their different devices.” Why was this commonly used form of marketing, utilized by Google, Facebook and Amazon, disallowed? Concordia, the publishing arm of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, was informed by Google that it was due to the site’s faith-based content – specifically references to “Jesus” and “the Bible.”
“Clearly, CPH does not agree with Google’s decision in this matter,” explained Concordia President Bruce G. Kintz. “If we are willing to remove references to our faith in our ads or website, then we will be allowed to use remarketing ads with Google. Simply stated, we are not willing to sacrifice our beliefs to comply with Google’s requirements. It’s no secret that society is becoming increasingly hostile to the Christian faith. This increasing hostility makes our mission of proclaiming that faith through the books, Bibles, and curriculum that we produce all the more important. We will continue to proclaim the faith because we know without a doubt that the Word of the Lord endures forever.”
Another concern about the “Censorship Cartel” is its use of the massive and unprecedented volume of information it collects on users – for its own profits and its own political agendas, while denying those tools to businesses, political campaigns and individuals with whom they disagree.
If all this represents such a primary threat to a free society, why isn’t anyone in Washington talking about it?
In fact, they are beginning to do just that.
Recently Sen. Ted Cruz called the cartel a “clear and present danger to our democratic system.” During congressional hearings with Facebook representatives including Zuckerberg, he suggested Facebook could be at risk of losing its liability immunity enjoyed under Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act. The liability immunity provided to tech companies is only offered because they are supposed to serve as “neutral conduits” for third-party information and content. Cruz and others are arguing that if Google and Facebook censor content based on political or religious ideology, then they are making editorial decisions and can no longer enjoy the protections offered to “neutral” platforms.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy also highlighted suppression of speech on social media platforms, telling the Council for National Policy that “no conservative group is safe.”
“Increasingly, people like us are belittled and forced out of the public square,” declared McCarthy. “Conservative Christians are being silenced in corporate America and the mainstream media – including on social media, where some of the most important conversations of our day are taking place. There are troubling reports that Amazon excluded the Alliance Defending Freedom from its charity program after a smear campaign by a left-wing activist group. As you know, ADF is not some fringe group. It is one of the most respected public-interest law firms in the country, with two cases pending before the Supreme Court. If ADF is not safe from discrimination, no conservative group is safe. … And this is not an isolated incident. During the height of the 2016 election, we learned that Facebook employees ‘routinely’ suppressed conservative stories so they wouldn’t show up in Americans’ newsfeeds. And Twitter has censored run-of-the-mill pro-life advertisements for being ‘inflammatory.’ Think how backward that is. To some in the media and Silicon Valley, the pro-life message is ‘inflammatory’ – but not abortion itself, which tears apart innocent human beings in the womb.”
That left-wing activist group mentioned by McCarthy was, indeed, the aforementioned SPLC – hardly a neutral party, yet a surprising uncommon denominator and socio-political-religious wild card linking Google, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon.
In fact, in a recent report, the Capital Research Center, explained SPLC’s sole purpose is to smear conservative and Christian groups and individuals. The group’s budget now approaches half a billion dollars – and maybe more depending on how much Google, YouTube and Amazon have recently kicked into its coffers.
“Posing as a civil rights watchdog, the SPLC lumps mainstream conservatives in with fringe extremists, white-supremacists and neo-Nazis as a matter of policy,” explains Matthew Vadum, author of the report. “According to the SPLC, opposition to open borders and multiculturalist initiatives is indicative of hate, and all political expression of those views is ‘hate speech.'”
Last fall, the Department of Defense’s Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity removed all SPLC-provided training material pertaining to extremist groups. In the documents, the SPLC compared Roman Catholics and Protestants to al-Qaida, according to Vadum. Under pressure from Capital Research Center and other groups, GuideStar, whose website provides a massive database of information on other nonprofits, did an about-face and announced it would no longer flag nonprofits on its site that the SPLC labels “hate groups.”
Donald Trump should know that the SPLC considers his White House the biggest and most dangerous of all “hate groups.” Not considered “hate groups” by the SPLC are violent organizations such as antifa and the Revolutionary Communist Party.
Is it any wonder the SPLC would have such influence at Google and YouTube? Corporate chairman Eric Schmidt had assisted Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The company’s search engine deploys a similar bias in favor of Democrats. One study found 2016 campaign searches were stacked in favor of Clinton. Even the liberal website Slate revealed the search engine’s results favored Clinton and Democratic candidates.
One thing Hillary Clinton understands: Politics is downstream from media and culture. She blamed the “vast right-wing conspiracy” for her problems in the 1990s. She’s still blaming the not-so-vast independent media and opposition voices for her defeat in 2016. So, what would she most like to do in 2018? Make sure all opposition voices are eradicated, snuffed out, destroyed in the most important media of all – Google-Facebook and the “Censorship Cartel.”
It’s the ultimate answer for all would-be tyrants.
Support the independent media before it’s too late. Opposition voices are dying every day under the scorched-earth policies of Google-Facebook et al. WND is attempting to rally the remnant together to expose the “Censorship Cartel” and curb its illegitimate and far-reaching power. Join the fight!