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Steven Mosher Steven Mosher

Opinion

Pro-life voices are now firmly in Facebook’s crosshairs

Steven Mosher Steven Mosher

April 5, 2018 (Population Research Institute) – In George Orwell's dystopian novel, 1984, the fictional government's "Ministry of Truth" was dedicated to spreading propaganda about the regime and its leaders. The censors who worked there, personified by the main character Winston, were constantly distorting reality to prop up the current party line.

Mark Zuckerberg, who controls Facebook with its two billion users, is attempting something similar. Only this master of the hi-tech universe is not using human censors like Winston, but warehouses full of computers.  He has had his computer software engineers design complex computer algorithms – a sequence of unambiguous instructions written in computer code – that direct his computers, on their own and largely without any human intervention, to promote posts by certain groups while suppressing others.

Zuckerberg is a leading member of the coastal elite, so it is no surprise that his new algorithm suppresses the voices of "deplorables" like us who believe in the sanctity of life. Since the algorithm was introduced in early 2018, the Population Research Institute's main page has seen a 41% decline in the reach of our posts. That means that our pro-life Weekly Briefings are now reaching only a little more than half of the people they reached just a few months ago.

The effect on other pro-life groups, such as LifeSiteNews, has been equally dramatic.  In fact, every group we know has seen their reach and influence on social media platforms suddenly diminished. The reason is that Facebook, along with YouTube, Twitter and Google, are deliberately suppressing pro-life, pro-family views while freely promoting Left-wing ideology.

This ideologically driven censorship has hammered not just pro-life groups but conservative organizations in general, including giants like Breitbart News and PragerU.  According to a report in The Outline, Breitbart News' Facebook engagement has dropped by 28% while PragerU's has fallen by 32%. Both are publishing more content these days – as we at PRI are – yet are seeing an increasingly muted response.

But it is clear that the primary target is not pro-life groups like us or even the conservative news giants. The real target is our pro-life president and the populist movement that propelled him into the presidency. We are just collateral damage.

Zuckerberg, who himself has toyed with the idea of running for president, must have been horrified by Trump's brilliant use of Facebook and other social media platforms to communicate with and mobilize his base during the 2016 campaign. Certainly many on the Left accused Facebook of unwittingly providing Trump with one of the communication tools he used to win the election.

As Breitbart's Allum Bokhari has noted, Zuckerberg's new algorithm follows on the heels of "a year of pressure from left-wing employees and the mainstream media for 'allowing' the president to win the general election."

Given all this, it comes as no surprise that Facebook's cleverly redesigned algorithm has hit Trump's Facebook posts the hardest. Our president has seen engagement on his Facebook posts drop by a staggering 45 percent since the new algorithm was introduced.  At the same time, the levels of engagement on the Facebook pages of Left-wing icons Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have remained unchanged.

Facebook's response to these seismic shifts in user engagement has been to deny any ideological bias. Instead, it claims that it has simply decided to promote only "quality news" from "broadly trusted" news sites.

This is clearly just a dodge.  What Facebook is really now promoting are the views of Mark Zuckerberg and other liberal coastal elites.  Articles from the relentlessly anti-Life and anti-family New York Times and Washington Post will now pop up on your news feed, whether you want them to or not. Articles from us, or from other pro-life, conservative-leaning news outlets such as LifeSiteNews or Breitbart, will not.

Why?

Because Facebook is deliberately attempting to silence us deplorables.  The social media giant doesn't "trust" us, "broadly" or otherwise.

We at PRI feel a sense of betrayal. We created an account on Facebook years ago on the promise of an open platform where we would be able to air our views on issues we cared about without censorship by gatekeepers or political elites.  Now that the platform has become an essential means of communication, Zuckerberg has decided that he – acting like the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's 1984 – is going to impose his views on the rest of us, by dictating what is allowed to be posted and promoted on Facebook.  It feels like a massive bait-and-switch operation.

It seems that way to others as well. Axios reports that Vice President Mike Pence has raised concerns about Facebook and Google, "Though Pence isn't yet pushing internally for any specific regulations, he argues these companies are dangerously powerful," sources told Axios. "The V.P. worries about their influence on media coverage, as well as their control of the advertising industry and users' personal info."

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, according to The Intercept, believes that social media platforms like Facebook and Google should "be regulated as utilities."

Senator Ted Cruz believes that Facebook may be violating Communication Decency Act's "safe harbor" provision, which grants online platforms legal immunity from content posted by their users. Why does Facebook need such immunity, the Senator asks, if it itself is censoring the views of people it disagrees with.

Unless and until something is done about Facebook's abuse of power, what should you do?  Is there a workaround to this insidious censorship?

The good news is that there is a way to stay current with the issues you care about, but you have to be even more proactive and engaged.   

Be sure to "like", "comment", and "share" all the posts of the groups you want to follow. This will help to overcome the bias of the algorithm, and force it to show such posts in your news feed more often.

To date, Facebook has not blocked actual subscribers from receiving posts from us. This means that you can override the algorithm by electing receive "Notifications" for all of our posts, along with those of other groups you want to be sure to receive. Just go to our page, and under the "Follow" drop down menu, hit "on" under "Notifications."

For the past couples of decades, the Internet has been very effectively to promote respect for Life. Now those Masters of the Universe who have come to dominate it have decided to impose their views on the rest of us.

In China, this kind of censorship is done by the government.  It is only slightly less dangerous to have it secretly done by Left-wing ideologues.  

I don't want my views to censored by a tech geek, whether it be Mark Zuckerberg or one of his faceless censors silently working in the bowels of his Ministry of Truth. Such people are not only impervious to correction, they are actually angry at the way unwashed, backwards deplorables like us who "cling to guns and religion" have learned to unite in defense of Life.

"We will scatter them again," I imagine Zuckerberg saying. "We intended to use our platform to collect their personal information and sell them products and ideas. How dare they use our platform to promote their own ideas."

If our movement is to prevail, the Masters of the Hi-Tech Universe must not be allowed to succeed.

Published with permission from the Population Research Institute.

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