February 8, 2021

NYU Study’s Ludicrous Claim: No Bias Here

A recent paper from a prestigious business school is both a hit piece and an embarrassment to scholarly research.

The title itself tells us it must’ve come from either The Onion or The Babylon Bee: “False Accusation: The Unfounded Claim that Social Media Companies Censor Conservatives.”

Except it came directly from neither satirical source. Instead, it came from the NYU Stern School of Business. But why would an ostensibly respectable business school — a school ranked fourth worldwide in one recent survey of MBA programs — defile itself with a claim that on its face is thoroughly ridiculous?

Search us. Maybe for the money? Because NYU certainly can’t be arguing — at least not with a straight face — that the industry that colluded to block the sharing of a bombshell influence-peddling story about Joe Biden’s son just days before the election, and then colluded to silence a sitting U.S. president shortly after the election, isn’t guilty of censorship bias.

Please, NYU, tell us you don’t think your audience is that stupid.

As Fox News’s Tucker Carlson rightly noted, “[The paper] almost reads like a press release from Silicon Valley, and that’s because it is. This so-called academic study was, in fact, paid for by Big Tech. It was funded by a man called Craig Newmark [founder of the online marketplace Craigslist], one of the many Silicon Valley billionaires who paid for the Joe Biden for President campaign. Now he’s paying for this.”

The study’s lead author is Paul Barrett, the deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights — an entity whose very name ought to arouse suspicion among those paying big bucks to learn about business at NYU. “In September,” as Carlson points out, “Barrett released another study on why we should be very nice to Big Tech, as well as deeply respectful and always obedient. That study was also funded by Craig Newmark as well as by George Soros.”

Of course, it’s merely a coincidence that these studies, both funded by Big Tech, arrive at conclusions favorable to Big Tech.

To read the 24-page paper is to be force-fed the word “disinformation,” which appears 14 times in the document. Each time, it’s accompanied by a stylistic sneer, like this one: “The false bias narrative is an example of political disinformation, meaning an untrue assertion that is spread to deceive. In this instance, the deception whips up part of the conservative base, much of which already bitterly distrusts the mainstream media. To call the bias claim disinformation does not, of course, rule out that millions of everyday people sincerely believe it.”

Going forward, those of us who rail against the censorship of Big Tech and Big Media can expect to see the word “disinformation” used against us almost reflexively. After all, who could possibly be against reducing the amount of disinformation out there?

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley points to a passage that exposes the paper’s folly: “The question of whether social media companies harbor an anti-conservative bias,” the authors write, “can’t be answered conclusively because the data available to academic and civil society researchers aren’t sufficiently detailed. Existing periodic enforcement disclosures by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are helpful but not granular enough to allow for thorough analysis by outsiders.”

Ah, so buried on page 20 of the paper, under the header of “Conclusions and Recommendations,” the authors call on Big Tech to “release more data for researchers.” And yet despite this dearth of data, the paper’s authors have nonetheless concluded that the claim by conservatives of censorship bias is without merit.

As Turley concludes, “This study is neither conclusive or particularly compelling. It read more like an extended, 20-page opinion editorial. It does seem itself to have a pronounced bias, particularly in declaring allegations of bias as ‘false’ and ‘disinformation’ while quietly noting that it cannot conclusively say whether there is bias.”

It’s not for nothing that, since 1996, we’ve been labeling the propaganda produced by the mainstream media — and now social media — as the real dezinformatsiya.

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