January 13, 2021

The Systemic ‘Redlining’ of Free Speech — Violating Foundational Civil Rights

Mass suppression of conservative speech by Big Tech and Leftmedia platforms is the Left’s most effective strategy for controlling public opinion and perpetuating their political dynasty.

Publisher’s note: As we consult over litigation strategy in 2024, I have updated this article to more thoroughly reflect how perilous the Big Tech suppression of free speech has become to the future of American Liberty.

“Without Freedom of Thought there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as Public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.” —Benjamin Franklin (1722)

The First Amendment states plainly: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or the press.” But Congress has done just that by passing laws protecting Big Tech media platforms from liability associated with doing their political bidding — silencing their opponents.

It has been argued that social and mass media platforms are private businesses entitled to implement whatever rules they want to impose regulating freedom of expression on their platforms.

But in fact, the immunity these platforms enjoy, which protects their unmitigated suppression of free speech, is covered in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. That is an Act of Congress and thus subject to the First Amendment prohibition that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or the press.” Until Congress takes action to modify the Section 230 protections afforded these behemoth social media platforms, their selective suppression of speech will persist. Currently the only free speech defense rests with state legislatures.

Free speech suppression by media platforms greatly accelerated in 2020, using the Covid pandemic as justification for protecting its users from false information. And indeed there was plenty of false information going around, even though platforms have Section 230 immunity from posts by their users.

But that justification has been grossly expanded in recent years to including any politically offending content that does not comport with the Left’s agenda.

Then came the January 6, 2021 Capitol protests and riot, and the political theatrics of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “insurrection” investigation committee.

Democrats in the executive and legislative branches and their bureaucratic legions used that disgraceful incident as a catalyst to shift their allied media cancel culture agenda into high gear, empowering Big Tech to use that event as a smokescreen to unleash a surge of suppression and purges across various social media platforms.

What started as a trickle turned into a flood, first with the Facebook and Twitter cancellations of Donald Trump’s accounts, which severed his ties with almost 90 million followers. Mark Zuckerberg claimed that his Facebook and Instagram applications will be blocking Trump indefinitely: “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.” A day later, Twitter also canceled Trump. (Remember when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey insisted, “Twitter stands for freedom of expression”?)

No word on when they will be blocking the accounts of leftists who have been serially guilty of violating the same platform policies they insist Trump violated.

The model for controlling media news coverage was the Demos’ social and mass media collusion to defeat Trump in November — most notably the massive and unprecedented coordinated cover-up of Joe Biden’s indisputably corrupt ChiCom dealings in the weeks ahead of the 2020 election. Only after the election, when it was safe to reveal the truth, did Leftmedia platforms begrudgingly and quietly admit that the evidence they suppressed before the election was factual.

Recall that in the two weeks before the presidential election, Facebook and Twitter blacked out user references to a New York Post story connecting Hunter and Joe Biden in a quid pro quo with corrupt Ukraine officials.

As I have previously detailed, Democrats attempted to impeach Trump for what Joe Biden actually did in a shady influence scam with Ukrainian officials. In 2018, Biden bragged on the record about how, in 2015 as VP, he coerced Ukrainian officials to fire the prosecutor who was hot on the trail of Burisma and Hunter Biden — a firing that even The New York Times acknowledged benefited Hunter Biden.

As Biden recounted, if Ukrainian officials didn’t “take action against the state prosecutor” [read: fire him], “I said … ‘We’re not going to give you the billion dollars. … I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars.’ … Well, son of a b**ch. He got fired.” We now know that coerced firing not only took the heat off Hunter Biden, who was taking millions in a pay-to-play scheme, but his Burisma buddies were friends with the replacement prosecutor. We also know that the massive cover-up regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop, which contained all the evidence, was completely contrived by a cadres of Trump/Russia collusion conspirators.

But the public knew none of this ahead of the 2020 election because of a massive effort to suppress the truth.

(For the record, on behalf of Twitter’s disgraceful blackout, a month after the election CEO Jack Dorsey admitted, “Our communication around our actions on the New York Post article was not great. And blocking URL sharing via tweet or DM with zero context as to why we’re blocking: unacceptable. … Straight blocking of URLs was wrong, and we updated our policy and enforcement to fix. Our goal is to attempt to add context, and now we have capabilities to do that.” Too little, too late.)

Fortunately, with the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk freedom of speech has largely been restored to his platform.

Further, regarding the claim that Trump’s now rhetorical claims that the election was “stolen” were grounds for canceling social media accounts, then why was Nancy Pelosi not canceled in 2017 after posting this comment on social media? “Our election was hijacked,” she asserted. “There is no question.” Her post included the hashtag “ProtectOurDemocracy.” Democrats have repeated that theme ad nauseam over the last four years, but with no takedowns.

I should note here that Trump’s list of grievances about why he lost the election obscure the real reason he lost — the Democrats’ bulk-mail balloting fraud. Counting bulk-mail ballots without authenticating who submitted those ballots, combined with the systemic suppression of conservative views, are two very powerful tools to achieve perpetual Democrat control.

So, how does all of this media manipulation add up to a violation of foundational civil rights?

The most recent Big Tech bans were the proverbial “tip of the iceberg.” These leftist-controlled platforms have launched a much broader purge of conservative organizations and affiliates, and that now includes Big Tech collusion between Apple, Google, and Amazon to shut down or severely restrict the reach of conservative views and organizations.

Remember in 2016, when the mainstream media eagerly lapped up the claim by the Obama/Clinton co-conspirators and their deep state operatives that Russia had something on Trump?

The Left’s shadow banning, canceling and de-platforming frenzy, their systemic suppression of free speech, is a collusion between the Demos and their Leftmedia “fact-checkers,” and it constitutes the most insidious and least visible means of digital “redlining” of free speech. In this case the “redlining” selectively prohibits or restricts the expression of free speech that the platforms and its surrogates find undesirable. In reality, many of their so-called “fact-checkers” are actually fact-blockers, who help the Left propagate their own politically motivated disinformation while claiming to “check” disinformation. And they have deployed a broader censorship facade under the auspices of identifying “false and misleading” information.

In effect, they are aggressively suppressing speech that does not comport with their leftist political agenda while simultaneously promoting that agenda.

Now, social media “fact-checkers” have deployed a catch-all method for suppressing free speech, the ubiquitous claim that a quote or post is “missing context” prompting blackout, removal, and account penalties against conservative media outlets, including The Patriot Post. And we have no recourse to end the deliberate “shadow banning” of our content on social media — severely limiting our content reach to our followers on their platforms, despite the fact those followers have deliberately selected to see our content — and despite the fact their “fact-checks” fail fact-check scrutiny.

Here’s what you need to know about the Demo/Leftmedia/Big Tech efforts to cancel conservative voices, in violation of our most foundational civil rights.

First, Democrats understand that conservative censorship and purges by Big Tech play right into their political favor. Regarding the prospect of any meaningful congressional regulation regarding the suppression of free speech, in June 2020, Trump issued an executive order on the aforementioned Section 230 protections, in an attempt to address abuse of that provision by social media platforms. Trump’s order clarified the existing rules and called for the Federal Communications Commission to engage in greater enforcement and oversight in order to end the abuse of Section 230’s provision that allowed social media companies to censor content using the dubiously defined decency rules with no recourse for those being censored. Of course, Biden dispensed with Trump’s EO, which has already been erased from the White House website.

The immunity provision of Section 230 stipulates, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

In 1996, when we launched The Patriot Post online, there were no social media platforms, and once they appeared, it took them more than a decade to begin implementing methods that would ultimately result in the systemic suppression of free speech. The irony is that our founding objective online was to bypass the leftist legacy media’s stranglehold on public opinion, and to achieve this on what was then a new and very promising free speech alternative, the Web. But today, that alternative has also been pirated by the Left in its never-ending effort to control the political and cultural narrative.

That was the same year Fox News was founded on cable networks, and a few years after Rush Limbaugh had launched into radio networks.

As noted, with the rise of leftist-controlled platforms came systemic censorship and suppression of opposing views by social media platforms in concert with Leftmedia outlets and even leftist-controlled search engines. That suppression of free speech clearly poses a direct threat to our Constitution’s assurance of fundamental civil liberties and, thus, it is an enormous and perilous violation of our civil rights. Free speech abridgment has now spread far and wide, having been accelerated during the Trump years.

Democrats have orchestrated some legislative charades, colluding with the Big Tech giants to appear they are reining in that censorship, but that appearance is a deception. As I have argued previously, Democrats will use any Big Tech legislative regulation to further empower censorship of conservative views. The Big Tech platforms are assured of no meaningful Demo challenges to their Section 230 privileges and protections, and they will not be subjected to congressional anti-trust hearings and litigation.

Second, and of more grave significance, the mass and social media assault on free speech constitutes an abject civil rights violation of First Amendment assurances guaranteed to all Americans — and a model for the coming civil rights violations of the Second Amendment.

When Americans are targeted because of our constitutionally protected political and/or religious views, leading to coordinated shadow banning of free speech, or deplatforming individuals or organizations, and in some cases defunding those individuals and groups when financial institutions selectively refuse services, that constitutes a digital form of “redlining” in violation of the most fundamental of civil rights. Without a Republican gauntlet, the surge in the systemic redline suppression of cvil rights by institutions will continue unabated — and at present few Republicans sufficiently understand the enormous impact of this background suppression being used by social media giants.

If Republican legislators truly understood the threat of speech suppression by the Demos’ Leftmedia and Big Tech platforms, and the significant implications for undermining free and fair elections, they would aggressively pass into law regulations that could immediately curb social media data mining as a pathway to also ensuring limits on suppression of free speech.

For example, Congress has the authority to protect consumer privacy through legislation, and in the case of Facebook and other aggregators of private data (which should be classified as private property), that legislation should include explicit requirements regarding the dissemination of consumer data and profiles. When it comes to invasive privacy violations — the collecting and marketing of individual profiles — a ubiquitous blanket “user agreement” is completely insufficient.

Congress should enact legislation requiring that social media and other aggregators of individual data (Facebook, Google, et al.) be required to obtain specific and explicit user permissions for each and every transfer of such data, prior to the sale or transfer of any individually identifiable profiling data.

Since 2020, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) have been the two most articulate promoters of free speech on the web. Blackburn has been leading the protest against speech suppression online since 2020, advocating for the necessary modifications to Section 230 to protect against suppression of free speech. She has also been instrumental in promoting free speech on college and university campuses.

However, as it stands right now, seeking a legal remedy is the only option but we don’t have that option because of Section 230 protections. The Big Tech social and medial platforms will, in concert with Democrats, vigorously defend their practice of suppressing the rights of others. Whether or not the Supreme Court will take on social media redlining of free speech will depend on establishing standing for advancing civil or legal cases asserting this collective violation of our civil rights, and The Patriot Post is in the process of formulating a test case.

Let me be clear about this: When commercial social media companies or their “fact-check” cadres target individuals and groups on their platforms because the expression of certain views don’t comport with that company’s views or those of their “arbiters of truth,” that is an open violation of that individual’s or group’s civil rights. The shadow banning of content is invisible to social media users who endeavor to follow other individuals or groups, and it is a far more egregious impact on suppression of civil rights than the highly visible deplatforming of high-profile individuals.

While all the congressional focus is on Big Tech high-profile bans, there is virtually no congressional focus on the invisible shadow banning — which is a much more effective means of suppression of free speech, and by a magnitude of 100 more consequential.

As you know, financial institutions once used redlining to ensure that Black citizens desiring to live in certain areas did not get loans. This coordinated systemic discrimination excluded financial and other services based on race and ethnicity rather than one’s particular merits for receiving services, an abject civil rights violation.

Beyond the institutional digital discrimination of free speech, financial redlining has reemerged.

Barack Obama’s leftists attempted financial institution redlining in their 2012 “Operation Chokepoint” strategy of using political pressure to “encourage” banks to withdraw any financing for gun manufacturers, a measure the Trump administration stopped. However, some financial institutions continued the practice using alternate justifications. Now, the Biden/Harris regime is undoing the Trump administration’s “Fair Access to Financial Services” rule, and you can expect the institutional redlining against the Second Amendment to resume with a vengeance.

However, the institutional discrimination against individuals is expanding unabated, this time in stark violation of our fundamental rights to free speech. When commercial institutions, including social media platforms, discriminate against Americans because of our views, despite the fact we meet the same qualifications as others being served, that constitutes a brazen violation of our civil rights. The “private company” defense for discrimination did not apply in racial redlining and does not apply now.

When considering the Big Tech and Wall Street assault on freedom of speech, religion, the press, and assembly — and the coming assault on the Second Amendment, the “palladium of the rights of the Republic” — understand that this is the Left’s latest discriminatory version of redlining.

So egregious is this collective assault on freedom of speech that even the American Civil Liberties Union is taking note. The ACLU’s legislative counsel, Kate Ruane, protested: “It should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions — especially when political realities make those decisions easier.”

In fact, it should concern all conservatives and Republican legislators more than anyone else, but most of those legislators are oblivious to the threat.

I would not hold your breath waiting on the ACLU to go after the First Amendment redliners for civil rights violations.

Notably, deplatforming concerns have also prompted The Patriot Post to reluctantly remove the comments page hosted on our site because if a leftist pretending to be a “Trump supporter” posts something advocating violence or insurrection, a “false flag” attack on our site, we could then suffer the consequences of that post by being deplatformed by social media.

To fully understand the impact of social media suppression of free speech, currently The Patriot Post has more than 750,000 active followers on Facebook who have selected to see content from our Facebook page, but because of shadow banning based on absurd claims about infractions, only a tiny percentage of those followers are seeing our content. We have these claimed infractions and suppression of our content fully documented.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta Platforms (Facebook), has repeatedly claimed that Facebook “explicitly views [itself] as not editors,” nor “does [Facebook] want to have editorial judgment over the content that’s in your feed.” In recent years that has proven to be a bold-face lie. In an employee memo Zuckerberg noted that the act of crossing out someones expression (in that case regarding “Black Lives Matter,” “means silencing speech, or that one person’s speech is more important than another’s.”

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and their Democrat Party leftists, are the primary benefactors of the Leftmedia and Big Tech suppression of free speech — making support for that suppression a key component of their strategy to establish a permanent Demo majority. Systemic institutional redlining by media platforms is the most perilous overt corporate threat to Liberty in the history of our nation.

Thus, expect the acceleration of this unlawful redline purge to continue. They know that the Big Tech purges are the best way to advance their deceptive BIG Lie political agendas.

(Update: As Nate Jackson reports in subsequent analysis on who censors what you read and how it is presented, the Left has significantly expanded its subversive efforts to suppress free speech.)

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
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