In an op-ed for The Hill this week, Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of The Trump Organization, laid out the case that big tech is targeting conservatives and called for action to guard against censorship in the “modern public square.”
“As Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives becomes ever more flagrant and overt, the old arguments about protecting the sanctity of the modern public square are now invalid,” writes Trump. “Our right to freely engage in public discourse through speech is under sustained attack, necessitating a vigorous defense against the major social media and internet platforms.”
Trump then provides a series of examples of the kinds of tactics used to silence or subvert conservative speech, including so-called “shadowbans” on Facebook and Twitter, for which Trump links to Breitbart stories about conservative educational group PragerU’s reach being temporarily reduced 99.9% on Facebook due to an “employee error” and an explanation of how shadowbanning works on Twitter. Trump also cites “demonetization of YouTube videos,” citing a story about liberal Dave Rubin and others seeing their videos targeted. Republican candidates, like Marsha Blackburn, have also seen their ads pulled “at the critical junctures of election campaigns,” notes Trump. “[T]he list of violations against the online practices and speech of conservatives is long,” he wrote, linking to a Breitbart story on his interview with Tucker Carlson about the issue.
Trump then describes his personal experience with apparent censorship by Instagram: “I certainly had my suspicions confirmed when Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, ‘accidentally’ censored a post I made regarding the Jussie Smollett hoax, which consequently led to me hearing from hundreds of my followers about how they’ve been having problems seeing, liking or being able to interact with my posts. Many of them even claimed that they’ve had to repeatedly refollow me, as Instagram keeps unfollowing me on their accounts.”
Trump also cites Project Veritas’ recent report on claims of a Facebook whistleblower about the platform’s practice of “deboosting,” or limiting the reach of some content based on an algorithm.
“Facebook appears to have deliberately tailored its algorithm to recognize the syntax and style popular among conservatives in order to “deboost” that content,” Trump writes. “‘Mainstream media,’ ‘SJW’ (Social Justice Warrior) and ‘red pill’ — all terms that conservatives often use to express themselves — were listed as red flags, according to the former Facebook insider. Facebook engineers even cited BlazeTV host Lauren Chen’s video criticizing the social justice movement as an example of the kind of ‘red pills’ that users just aren’t allowed to drop anymore.”
“Mainstream conservative content was strangled in real time, yet fringe leftists such as the Young Turks enjoy free rein on the social media platform,” he adds.
Trump stresses the “chilling” nature of big tech’s partisan treatment of voices on their platforms, particularly for conservatives “with smaller followings and those who don’t have the soapbox or media reach to push back when they’re being targeted.”
“Despite the occasional brave gesture, politicians have been far too sluggish in recognizing the extent of the problem,” says Trump, going on to praise the action taken on the issue of censorship by some of the more vigilant conservatives, particularly Sen. Josh Hawley.
“Left unchecked, Big Tech and liberal activists could construct a private ‘social credit’ system — not unlike what the communists have nightmarishly implemented in China — that excludes outspoken conservatives from wide swaths of American life simply because their political views differ from those of tech executives,” Trump warns.
“There is no conservative principle that even remotely suggests we are obligated to adopt a laissez-faire attitude while the richest companies on earth abuse the power we give them to put a thumb on the scale for our political enemies,” he concludes. “If anything, our love of the free market dictates that we must do whatever is necessary to ensure that the free marketplace of ideas remains open to all.”