Conservative leader demands Facebook ‘put up or shut up’ on civil rights and political bias
December 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – As Facebook unveils the preliminary findings of a long-awaited “civil rights audit,” a leading conservative activist is once again calling on the social media giant to address allegations of discrimination against conservative users.
On Tuesday, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg published an update on a review tasked to attorney Laura Murphy of alleged civil rights concerns pertaining to election-related content and policies.
“We updated our policy to expressly ban misrepresentations about how to vote, such as claims that you can vote using an online app, and statements about whether a vote will be counted,” Sandberg wrote,” highlighting “voter suppression” as a “distinct civil rights challenge” meriting ongoing attention. “In addition to working to prevent voter suppression, we’re also building on our efforts to encourage voter registration and engagement.”
“We know we need to do more. Laura’s report includes areas where we can and should do better – and we’re working hard to address these concerns,” she promised, calling the audit “one of my top priorities for 2019.”
The next day, Media Research Center president Brent Bozell issued a blistering response, faulting the company for giving lip service to equality while neglecting reports of anti-conservative bias. “For once and for all, Facebook: Put up or shut up,” he said.
“Mainstream conservative organizations, supported by 10 times as many people as these radicals ... have been demanding the same seat at the table and have been given lip service and nothing more,” he noted. “For Facebook to continue this nonsense about being impartial and unbiased, and just a ‘marketplace of information’ is offensive.”
Bozell took particular notice of the audit’s calls for “liberal experts to be involved in both ‘content moderation’ and building an ‘accountability infrastructure,’” suggesting Congress and the Federal Election Commission should look more closely at Facebook’s work with these groups during the midterm elections.
He also recalled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement last month that Facebook would be doing more to suppress “borderline” content “even if it doesn't actually violate our standards,” in the name of creating a “safer experience.”
Many critics infer the worst from such statements, based on numerous cases, analyses, and whistleblower reports. Facebook insiders have admitted to targeting topics of interest to conservatives, while multiple analyses have found that Facebook’s algorithm changes disproportionately harmed conservatives.
Among the individuals and groups improperly restricted since 2016 are various Republican officeholders and candidates; pro-life groups such as LifeSiteNews; “Activist Mommy” blogger Elizabeth Johnston; theologian Dr. Robert A.J. Gagnon; conservative video bloggers Diamond and Silk; the group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality; and the recent film Gosnell.
Earlier this month, Facebook temporarily censored a painting of Santa Claus kneeling before a newborn Jesus Christ, with a warning that “This photo may show violent or graphic content.”
President Donald Trump has condemned the social media giants for “silencing millions of people,” and reportedly considered investigating their practices. Some conservatives suggest the problem should be addressed by repealing discriminatory platforms’ immunity from liability for the content they allow, which is predicated on their exercising of true neutrality. On Thursday, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, introduced legislation to do just that.
“Conservatives expect equal treatment, equal access and equal participation in an effort by Facebook to moderate content, oversee appeals and build new products,” Bozell warned in conclusion. “Anything less will never be accepted or tolerated by us.”