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April 26, 2024

Yes, Facebook Interfered in Our Elections

A new report details 39 times when the nation’s dominant social media platform censored conservative speech during election season.

“Ours is the most outspoken society on earth,” wrote Anthony Lewis, The New York Times’s First Amendment thinker and classically liberal champion of free speech. “Americans are freer to think what we will and say what we think than any other people, and freer today than in the past.”

Lewis was right when he wrote that in his final book, Freedom for the Thought That We Hate, but he’s been dead for 11 years, and the rest of what he said back in 2008 didn’t age as well. “We can bare the secrets of government and the secrets of the bedroom. We can denounce our rulers, and each other, with little chance that a court will stop us from publishing what we wish — in print, on the air, or on the Web.”

Or on the Web. It’s those last four words that have, unfortunately, passed their freshness date. Lewis couldn’t have predicted it, but social media now dominates discourse on the Internet, and its platforms — with but one real exception, X (Twitter) — are utterly controlled by the Left. Nor could Lewis have predicted that liberalism would be overtaken by leftism, that its adherents would one day utterly abandon the Free Speech Movement they championed in the 1960s, and that they would replace right-wing puritans as the nation’s foremost suppressors of speech.

But they have. And here we are.

This brings us to the latest evidence of the Left’s efforts to censor speech it finds inconvenient: a report by the Media Research Center’s Free Speech America cataloging 39 times that Facebook has interfered in American elections since 2008.

As MRC’s Gabriela Pariseau and Dan Schneider quip, “If Facebook, the company, had a personal Facebook profile, its ‘relationship status’ with free speech would say, ‘It’s complicated.’”

Among the examples MRC cites is one from a week prior to the 2012 election, when the platform “suspended a Veteran PAC for a meme drawing attention to the attack on Benghazi. … The group had posted a meme reminding its followers that Navy SEALs were denied backup during the tragic terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate” on September 11 of that year.

The problem of social media censorship was relatively small back then, but Facebook ramped up during the 2016 election when it “censored then-Democratic Party candidate for president Bernie Sanders and ‘conservative topics’ and news.” And it exploded during the 2020 election when Facebook went all-in on behalf of Joe Biden and the Democrats to stop the reelection of Donald Trump:

The platform censored posts and ads from then-sitting President Donald Trump at least four times and took down seven political ads paid for by the political right. One of these ad campaigns Facebook killed just over a month before the election. The ad reportedly pointed out the incongruence between Democrats’ open borders and COVID-19 lockdown policies. The Washington Post reported at the time, “There were more than 30 versions of the ad running on the social network, according to Facebook’s ad transparency library. It had gathered between 200,000 and 250,000 impressions.” Other candidates impacted by censorship included Rep. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Florida candidate and activist Laura Loomer (R) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). 2020 election interference came to a head, however, when the platform censored the New York Post’s bombshell Hunter Biden report documenting the Biden family’s financial scandals and then ultimately placed an indefinite suspension on then-sitting President Trump’s accounts shortly into 2021.

June 2020 is when Facebook began a campaign to torpedo traffic to The Patriot Post, as well.

Here, it’s worth recalling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s phony words at Georgetown University a year earlier: “We can either continue to stand for free expression understanding its messiness but believing that the long journey towards greater progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us. Or we can decide that the cost is simply too great. I’m here today because I believe that we must continue to stand for free expression.”

As it turned out, Zuckerberg bought that election in an altogether different way — by pouring nearly half a billion dollars into the big cities of the critical swing states, thereby helping to ensure that nursing home turnout in the greater Milwaukee area was near 100%. Nothing to see here, though. Move along, you election deniers.

I know what you’re thinking: Tell me something I don’t already know. That Facebook having its hand on the scale of free and fair elections is no secret. So, what to do about it? The Media Research Center has three good suggestions, and one that’s good for a spit-take:

  • House Speaker Mike Johnson should direct the relevant GOP-led committees to haul Zuckerberg and his co-conspirators before Congress and put them under oath
  • State legislatures should forbid Big Tech from engaging in viewpoint discrimination
  • State attorneys general and secretaries of state should enforce applicable laws against election interference
  • Facebook should establish “a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission” to fix its political biases

Of these suggestions, we see the first as a possibility and the last as a howler. Ultimately, perhaps the best thing to come out of this damning report will be an increased awareness among Republicans that social media can’t be trusted and can’t be relied upon for getting one’s message out.

The exception to this is X. Elon Musk’s purchase of that platform and his commitment to it as a marketplace of ideas looms ever larger and ever more infuriating to the speech-suppressing Left.

“[Facebook’s] policies and practices,” said MRC President Brent Bozell, “have resulted in a great deal of censorship that always seems to target the same side of the political spectrum, and it needs to stop.”

He’s right. But there are no easy solutions.

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