Facebook, Google, social media sites ‘actively’ censor Christian content: study
MANASSAS, VA, September 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new study has found that Google and other major social media sites such as Facebook have “actively” censored Christian and conservative viewpoints.
The report, conducted by National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) and the American Center for Law and Justice, examined the policies and practices of several major Internet-interactive “new media” communications platforms and service providers, including Apple and its iTunes App Store, Facebook, Google, and others.
The study found that some of the new media technology companies have outright banned Christian content, and that all social media sites, except Twitter, have speech policies more restrictive than the free speech rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.
According to the study, seven of the major social media sites have banned “hate speech,” a term that the study authors point out “is often applied in the culture to stifle Christian communicators.”
The study authors also found that some of the media companies have been responsive to demands by pressure groups calling for censorship of conservative or Christian viewpoints.
The study notes that when Google established new guidelines for its “Google for Non-Profits” in March 2011, it refused to list “churches and other faith groups” that consider “religion or sexual orientation in hiring practices.” Christian churches that have applied for the suite of Google tools geared at non-profits have been rejected.
On another occasion the world’s most powerful search engine initially prohibited the British Christian Institute from purchasing space for an advertisement about abortion. It was only after the Christian Institute sued Google that the search engine permitted the ad.
Apple has twice removed applications that contained Christian content from its iTunes App Store, the study documented. In both instances, Apple admitted that these apps were denied access because it considered the Christian viewpoints expressed in those applications to be “offensive.”
“Of the 425,000 apps available on Apple’s iPhone, the only ones censored by Apple for expressing otherwise lawful viewpoints have been apps with Christian content,” observes the study.
For its part, Facebook has openly partnered with homosexual activists to “eradicate anti-gay comments on its platform,” the report found. “All of which suggest that Christian content critical of homosexuality, same-sex marriage, or similar practices will be at risk of censorship [by Facebook]” says the study. In fact, in some cases such content already has been removed by the social networking site.
Myspace, another social networking site similar to but less popular than Facebook, also has a policy banning “homophobic” content.
The pro-life organization Live Action has had a number of encounters with new media censorship. In a conversation with LifeSiteNews about the NRB study, Live Action Media Director David Schmidt recalled a censorship threat from Youtube earlier this year.
“We were threatened earlier this year,” he said. “After our attorney sent a letter to YouTube, they didn’t remove our videos. Thankfully, they were considered ‘newsworthy,’ a standard not ‘cut-and-dry’ to all users.”
Schmidt said that a majority of Live Action videos have been rejected for consideration as YouTube Promoted Videos because “it is a content issue of some sort.”
The authors of the NRB study point out that the attitudes of the new media companies to Christian content are important, since currently “a handful of ‘new media’ giants are the gatekeepers to new web-based communications platforms.”
“There is a real and present danger that these companies can, and in some instances actually have, committed viewpoint censorship as a result of monolithic control over these technologies.”