Powerful forces threatening free and open exchanges of public communications have infiltrated social media.
No, I’m not referring only to Russia, China, North Korea, and Iranian mullahs.
Those threats are lurking in secret algorithms in the darkness of shadow bans, and are hidden under Silicon Valley censorship platforms.
There is little pretense of political neutrality on the part of such tech giants as Facebook, Google and Twitter. Of these, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has fully admitted his company’s left-leaning bias.
Google went all-in with more than $1.5 million in employee financial support and free data analytics services to Hillary’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Facebook rising star executive and virtual reality genius Palmer Luckey apparently challenged that bias and lost. The Wall Street Journal reported that Luckey was first put on leave — then fired — after donating $10,000 to an anti-Hillary group during the 2016 presidential contest.
Facebook, which together with Google controls 60 percent of all digital ad revenues, has blatantly blocked publishers from posting factual and opinion content that deviates from corporate ideology.
Included are materials which are critical of socialist ideals.
Last September, Justin Haskins and Donald Kendal of the non-profit Heartland Institute created a website titled StoppingSocialism.com and delivered a speech on the subject to a group of college-age attendees at an annual Students for Liberty event in Washington, D.C. in January.
The following month, Haskins posted a video highlighting the conclusion of that speech which called upon millennials to reject radical collectivism of Karl Marx.
Its message urged them instead to embrace principles of the Founding Fathers — Individual liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise.
After posting the video, Haskins paid Facebook to advertise it, a practice he had previously accomplished on more than 100 occasions without issue. This time, however, Facebook pulled the ad, citing “violations” of an obscure part of the company’s advertising policies prohibiting the inclusion of older Facebook logo versions.
Haskins successfully appealed Facebook’s rejection of the ad which initially ran for a few days without incident. Then suddenly, and without explanation, his Facebook advertising account was permanently disabled. Imagining this to merely be a glitch in their system, he once again appealed the ban notification.
It wasn’t an accident. Facebook’s advertising team responded that their decision to ban the advertising account was correct because, “We don’t support ads for your business model” which “[doesn’t] follow our advertising policies.”
That disallowed “business model” presumably referred to StoppingSocialism.com along with Haskins’ other conservative Facebook postings.
Facebook’s response clarified, “There’s no further action that you may take here.”
The notification added, “Please consider this decision final.”
Haskins appealed the ban repeatedly during months of February and March, each time explaining his assumption that the closure was due to the ad’s anti-socialism material.
Every contact brought exactly the same response from different members of Facebook’s support team. All stated, “There’s no further action that you may take here. We don’t support ads for your business model.”
After two months of appeals, Facebook finally provided their reason for banning the account, “Specifically, it was disabled for running misleading ads.”
Again presuming that the response referred to the socialism video – the only ad running at the time Facebook banned the account — Haskins asked for an explanation regarding exactly what aspect of the video was misleading.
Facebook’s representative responded, “[N]o additional details can be provided regarding the decision made on your account. With policy cases, we often will hold back the red flags we use to identify violations to help preserve the integrity of out [sic] internal processes.”
Haskins’ final communication with Facebook expressed his opinion that the team was banning him for his well-informed political views as an outspoken socialism opponent.
In rebuff, he was told, “I understand why you feel this way, however this is all the information that we are abbe [sic] to provide. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
The lessons here?
It really shouldn’t come as any big surprise that Silicon Valley communication content police have no ideological problem with socialism. After all, the Universal Basic Income (UBI) free money concept lauded by tech leaders ranging from Mark Zuckerberg to Elon Musk is unmitigated socialism on steroids.
Nor, unfortunately, is there any momentous new discovery that right-leaning views are subject to special scrutiny as “hate speech.”
More than 100 Facebook employees had previously formed an online group called “FB’ers for Political Diversity.” Their sarcastic website posting stated, “We claim to welcome all perspectives, but are quick to attack — often in mobs — anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left-leaning ideology.”
No, what makes this Heartland video censorship particularly noteworthy is the dogged persistence of its creators in confirming what we really knew all along. Namely, that it can happen to anyone online who steps out of their partisan line.