Conservatives Urge Fairer Social Media Policies
MRC Founder and President Brent Bozell, MRC Censorship Project Director Allen West, and 61 other conservative leaders issued the following joint statement on Tuesday urging leading social media companies to adopt four key principles in order to ensure that conservatives receive equal treatment on these important platforms:
Social media censorship and online restriction of conservatives and their organizations have reached a crisis level. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s hearings on Capitol Hill only served to draw attention to how widespread this problem has become. Conservative leaders now have banded together to call for equal treatment on tech and social media.
Conservatives have encountered problems across platforms — Twitter, Facebook, Google, and its video platform YouTube especially. Social media firms have banned gun videos and rejected pro-life advertisements. They have skewed search results and adjusted trending topics in ways that have harmed the right. Firms have restricted and deleted videos, even academic content. Conservative tech employees have found their speech limited and their careers harmed. And top tech companies have given preferential treatment to anointed legacy media outlets that also lean left. These same tech titans then work with groups openly hostile to conservatives to restrict speech.
Here are four key areas that social media companies must address to begin to rectify their credibility problem:
1) Provide Transparency: We need detailed information so everyone can see if liberal groups and users are being treated the same as those on the right. Social media companies operate in a black-box environment, only releasing anecdotes about reports on content and users when they think it necessary. This needs to change. The companies need to design open systems so that they can be held accountable, while giving weight to privacy concerns.
2) Provide Clarity on ‘Hate Speech’: “Hate speech” is a common concern among social media companies, but no two firms define it the same way. Their definitions are vague and open to interpretation, and their interpretation often looks like an opportunity to silence thought. Today, hate speech means anything liberals don’t like. Silencing those you disagree with is dangerous. If companies can’t tell users clearly what it is, then they shouldn’t try to regulate it.
3) Provide Equal Footing for Conservatives: Top social media firms, such as Google and YouTube, have chosen to work with dishonest groups that are actively opposed to the conservative movement, including the Southern Poverty Law Center. Those companies need to make equal room for conservative groups as advisers to offset this bias. That same attitude should be applied to employment diversity efforts. Tech companies need to embrace viewpoint diversity.
4) Mirror the First Amendment: Tech giants should afford their users nothing less than the free speech and free exercise of religion embodied in the First Amendment as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. That standard, the result of centuries of American jurisprudence, would enable the rightful blocking of content that threatens violence or spews obscenity, without trampling on free speech liberties that have long made the United States a beacon for freedom.
Social media companies must address these complaints if they wish to have any credibility with the conservative movement and its tens of millions of supporters. It is our hope they will do so in a positive way. If the social media firms engage the conservative movement with the spirit of cooperation, we will do our best to assist them.