The biggest threat to what some call “our democracy” is not collusion with Russia, but collusion among high-tech monopolies in Silicon Valley to censor Trump supporters. The strong-arm tactics of the Leftists who control Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Apple are making the Pravda of the former Soviet Union look like a free speech paradise in comparison.
Shadowbanning conservative users, which consists of blocking or hindering the distribution of their internet content without telling them, is a particularly pernicious form of censorship. The victim sees fewer viewers for his postings but does not know why.
Other tactics to stifle conservatives on the internet have included taking down their YouTube videos, excluding their “apps” from smartphones, and disabling links from Facebook to conservative websites. The problem is so pervasive that it has attracted the attention of House Republicans and President Trump himself.
On Saturday, President Trump tweeted that “Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen.”
The timing of this political censorship less than 60 days from the beginning of early voting in the midterms is no coincidence. Control of the House of Representatives hangs in the balance, and censoring Trump supporters gives Democrat candidates an unfair advantage.
“Too many voices are being destroyed, some good & some bad, and that cannot be allowed to happen,” President Trump continued. “Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!”
“I won’t mention names,” the president said in an interview with Reuters, “but when they take certain people off of Twitter or Facebook and they’re making that decision, that is really a dangerous thing because that could be you tomorrow.”
The Department of Justice should take Trump’s tweets to heart, and investigate the Silicon Valley monopolies. If DOJ can afford $50 million for Robert Mueller to search for Russian collusion in the last election, then it should have enough money to expose how conservative speech is restricted by the corporations that control our social media.
Competition is a necessary condition of the American free enterprise system, but there is no real competition in social media or Silicon Valley. Instead, a privileged few are abusing their monopoly power to silence an essential segment of political dialog: conservative speech.
The Sherman Act, landmark Republican legislation passed way back in 1890, provides the Trump Administration all the tools it needs to stop the censorship. Facebook, Google (which owns YouTube), and the other California companies are violating the Sherman Act by restraining trade in the services they offer, as well as by attempting to monopolize the main channels of communication on the internet.
Senator John McCain’s political idol, President Theodore Roosevelt, would be telling Trump to bust up the Silicon Valley monopolies that are censoring conservatives. Not even John D. Rockefeller’s massive oil monopoly, a target of Roosevelt’s trust-busting, ever tried to impose censorship of American political opinion.
Teddy Roosevelt was also very Trump-like on the need for immigrants to assimilate and learn to speak our common English language. In addition to Trump’s positions on securing our borders, the first President Roosevelt would have applauded Trump for recently praising a U.S. Border Patrol agent who “speaks perfect English.”
While the Justice Department is preoccupied with searching for a nonexistent Russia conspiracy, another Trump cabinet member, Dr. Ben Carson, has issued a challenge to one of the social media giants. On Friday, Carson’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) accused Facebook of discriminating against its users, in a Housing Discrimination Complaint.
Facebook makes its enormous profits by extracting demographic information about its users and then delivering that information to advertisers for a price. By doing so, Facebook “invites advertisers to express unlawful preferences by offering discriminatory options, allowing them to effectively limit housing options for these protected classes under the guise of ‘targeted advertising,'” Dr. Carson’s HUD said in a statement.
“The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination including those who might limit or deny housing options with a click of a mouse,” said the HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Anna María Farías. Facebook violates federal law by allowing its advertisers to unlawfully control which users receive housing-related ads based upon the recipient’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or zip code.
The Leftist strategy to censor is bound to fail, and gives Republicans a campaign issue for the fall. Defending the right of free speech against censorship is an issue that resonates strongly with young voters, on whom Democrats traditionally rely for their margin of victory.
The political irony is rich. Democrats are making President Trump the new champion of free speech, and deservedly so.
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.