by CHQ Staff
Facebook has released its report responding to accusations of bias against conservatives, however, it bears no resemblance to the similar audit it did for the Left reports the Media Research Center’s Corrine Weaver.
In fact, the social media giant didn’t even admit conservative concerns about censorship were valid in the new report.
Former Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl has now released his long-awaited report on Facebook’s bias against conservatives, along with an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
In his op-ed, Kyl wrote, “Over time, many conservatives lost trust in Facebook, believing it discriminated against them.” This set the tone for the audit, which addressed conservative concerns of bias as merely a belief, not fact.
The conservative audit interviewed 133 conservative figures and organizations to discover what needed to change about Facebook reported Ms. Weaver. Fifteen major concerns were voiced, including the lack of conservatives on Facebook’s board of directors, the lack of viewpoint diversity at Facebook, the appeals process, and the unexplained takedown of content like quotes from the Bible and the Declaration of Independence.
Facebook “identified some areas where it could make progress or commit to changes immediately.” But none of these solutions solved the problems mentioned by conservatives. Senator Kyl pointed out, “Facebook’s policies and their application have the potential to restrict free expression . . . this is a danger that must be taken very seriously.” In his Wall Street Journal op-ed, Kyl expanded, “Restoring trust fully may remain an elusive goal.”
Very few of conservatives’ actual concerns were voiced in the audit. Facebook bans guns and gun sales, and has censored videos about guns on the platforms. This was not mentioned in the audit. The wording of some of the concerns was made to look as if conservatives believed things that were not true.
One concern was worded this way: “Many interviewees believed that Facebook is a liberal organization with liberal employees, making interviewees skeptical that the platform’s policies are fairly written and enforced.” Facebook is run by Mark Zuckerberg, who promoted liberal values over conservative values in trending topics. The New York Times published a story about the handful of conservative employees protesting the intolerant “political monoculture.” Zuckerberg himself said that Silicon Valley is an “extremely left-leaning place.”
Ms. Weaver reports other changes offered by Facebook to address conservative concerns included hiring four people “exclusively devoted to working with smaller organizations to resolve questions and complaints about content decisions.” The announcement of an oversight board was also supposed to solve some problems; however, conservatives are not inclined to trust the oversight board — especially one that will be international in scope.
The conservative report was introduced with a neutral commentary from Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs and Communications. By contrast, COO Sheryl Sandberg introduced the far-left analysis with a full-throated endorsement.
“The civil rights audit is deeply important to me, and it’s one of my top priorities for 2019. I’m committed to overseeing its progress and making sure that it is a well-resourced, cross-company effort,” wrote Sandberg in December.
Contrast that with the non-endorsement of conservative complaints by Clegg observed by Ms. Weaver: “But even if we could craft [speech policies] in a way that pleased all sides, when dealing with such nuanced issues, involving policies that apply to billions of posts, we will inevitably make some bad calls, some of which may appear to strike harder at conservatives.”
Kyl’s eight-page report paled in comparison to the 27-page liberal audit spearheaded by Laura Murphy of the ACLU and the George-Soros-funded group Color of Change. For the eight policy changes Facebook made for liberal demands, only one policy change was made that actually addresses conservative demands.
Among the eight different policies were made and announced with the second civil rights audit, released on June 30 were:
- A policy around census information
- A policy around political advertising
- A permanent civil rights task force, which will examine content policy, privacy, and elections
A third civil rights audit is slated for release in 2020.
For conservatives, Facebook made a small tweak to its ad policy about “sensational content.” It will now allow medical tubes to be shown in ads, which will allegedly make it easier for pro-life organizations to post ads. However, according to Axios, “Facebook will still prohibit these types of ads if the ad shows someone in visible pain or distress or where blood and bruising is visible.”
The Free Speech Alliance, a coalition of more than 50 organizations led by the Media Research Center, and in which ConservativeHQ.com is an active participant, made a list of demands for social media companies. These included: 1) more transparency in order to see if the left and the right are receiving the same treatment. 2) clarity on what “hate speech” is, 3) equal footing for conservatives, and 4) a standard that mirrors the First Amendment. None of these demands were met or addressed by Facebook in the audit.
Media Research Center Founder and President Brent Bozell issued a statement via Twitter that pretty well sums up our view of the Kyl report:
The @Facebook Kyl cover-up is astonishing. 133 groups presented Kyl with evidence of FB’s agenda against conservatives and he dishonestly did FB’s bidding instead.
One way of ending the mistreatment of conservatives via social media bias and censorship, would be to fast track Senator Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, a major update to the way big tech companies are treated under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).
Sen. Hawley’s legislation removes the immunity big tech companies receive under Section 230 unless they submit to an external audit that proves by clear and convincing evidence that their algorithms and content-removal practices are politically neutral. Sen. Hawley’s legislation does not apply to small and medium-sized tech companies.
“With Section 230, tech companies get a sweetheart deal that no other industry enjoys: complete exemption from traditional publisher liability in exchange for providing a forum free of political censorship,” said Senator Hawley. “Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, big tech has failed to hold up its end of the bargain.
“There’s a growing list of evidence that shows big tech companies making editorial decisions to censor viewpoints they disagree with. Even worse, the entire process is shrouded in secrecy because these companies refuse to make their protocols public. This legislation simply states that if the tech giants want to keep their government-granted immunity, they must bring transparency and accountability to their editorial processes and prove that they don’t discriminate.”
We think Sen. Hawley is on the right track, but CDA reform isn’t the only vehicle for reining in the Tech Lords, it is also long past time for a serious anti-trust investigation.
The toll-free Capitol Switchboard is (1-866-220-0044), we urge CHQ readers and friends to call Majority Leader Mitch McConnell today. Tell Senator McConnell it is time to rein in the monopolistic social media companies and end their discrimination against conservatives. Tell him the best way to start is to fast track Sen. Josh Hawley’s Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act.
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