Update June 8, 11:15 PM ET: Amazon contacted LifeSiteNews after this story was published and asked that an “on-record statement” be included in this report. The statement has been included below.
June 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The world’s most powerful social media and technology companies all rely on a nonprofit group notorious for anti-Christian bias and falsely accusing conservatives of bigotry, according to a new report.
Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon all maintain partnerships with the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), according to an investigation by the Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF). Though not currently partnering with the group for any services, Apple has donated $1 million to SPLC (along with the Anti-Defamation League).
SPLC bills itself as a “civil rights” watchdog that monitors “hate groups and other extremists.” But while it does identify some actual racist organizations on the fringes of American politics, many of its targets are mainstream Christian, pro-family, and conservative groups.
Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja told DCNF that SPLC is one of several “external experts and organizations” the company relies on to “inform our hate speech policies.” She claimed Facebook also consults with other groups across the political spectrum and does not automatically accept SPLC’s judgment as final, citing SPLC’s May complaint against Facebook for tolerating too many posts and groups it deemed “anti-Muslim.”
Twitter identifies SPLC as a “safety partner” that helps weed out “hateful conduct and harassment.” A spokeswoman would not elaborate on the company’s relationship with SPLC. Google similarly relies on the group as a “Trusted Flagger” for YouTube videos, which enables it to not only identify content for YouTube moderators to review, but also provide input on YouTube’s own algorithms.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google/YouTube are all currently under fire for discriminating against conservative content in a variety of additional ways, despite billing themselves as open, politically-neutral platforms.
Of the four companies, Amazon gives SPLC the most deference, DCNF learned.
“We remove organizations that the SPLC deems as ineligible,” a spokeswoman confirmed. The world’s largest digital marketplace allows the group to essentially blackball groups from the Amazon Smile program, which allows customers to designate charities to receive a fraction of the money from their purchases.
In May, Amazon excluded the religious liberty firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) from the program after five years of participation, citing SPLC’s judgment. Yet Amazon Smile continues to allow donations to the Nation of Islam, an organization SPLC itself agrees is anti-Semitic, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose personnel have been linked to several terrorism cases.
Notably, the spokeswoman claimed Amazon gave SPLC free reign because “we don’t want to be biased whatsoever,” without acknowledging SPLC’s own biases.
The group’s campaigns have gotten the online donation processing service Vanco (which is affiliated with Wells Fargo) to cut ties with the Ruth Institute, a pro-children think tank critical of the Sexual Revolution; convinced the charity monitor GuideStar to label 46 conservative organizations, including the Family Research Council (FRC) and the American College of Pediatricians, as “hate groups”; inspired “hard news” reports from ABC, NBC, and others to identify ADF as a “hate group”; and more.
Last August, D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJMK), formerly known as Coral Ridge Ministries, filed a defamation suit against SPLC for applying the “hate” label it it as well. Floyd Lee Corkins, the man who shot a FRC security guard and intended to kill more staffers for being “anti-gay” in 2013, said SPLC’s “hate map” helped him select a target, but CNN promoted the map in 2017 anyway. James Hodgkinson, who shot House Republican Whip Steve Scalise last summer, followed SPLC on Facebook (SPLC condemned both crimes).
“Having evolved from laudable origins battling the Klan in the 1970s, the SPLC has realized the profitability of defamation, churning out fundraising letters, and publishing ‘hit pieces’ on conservatives to promote its agenda and pad its substantial endowment (of $319 million),” a coalition of 47 conservative leaders declared in an open letter last fall. “Anyone who opposes them, including many Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and traditional conservatives is slandered and slapped with the ‘extremist’ label or even worse, their ‘hate group’ designation.”
So beyond the mainstream is SPLC that in 2014, the FBI under former President Barack Obama removed it as a resource on its hate crime webpage. The Pentagon under President Donald Trump dropped it as a resource in October 2017.
But Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon continue to let the group influence what users can see and say. Facebook in particular has recently pledged to crack down on political bias in its policies, but has not acknowledged concerns over its association with SPLC.
Amazon statement: “Charitable organizations must meet the requirements outlined in our participation agreement to be eligible for AmazonSmile. Organizations that engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities are not eligible. If at any point an organization violates this agreement, its eligibility will be revoked. Since 2013, Amazon has relied on the US Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center to help us make these determinations. While this system has worked well, we do listen to and consider the feedback of customers and other stakeholders, which we will do here as well.” – Amazon Spokesperson