Stop blocking us, social media companies!
It’s human nature: when people see a problem, demand government do something. Should no censorship be the goal instead?
I now make my living by releasing short videos on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
I assumed you who subscribed to my feed or became Facebook “friends” would receive that video every Tuesday.
Wrong! Turns out social media companies send our posts to only some of our friends. (That’s why I ask for your email address. Then they can’t cut us off.)
Why might they cut us off?
One reason is that we’d drown in a fire hose of information if they showed us everything. The companies’ algorithms cleverly just send us what the computer determines we’ll like.
Another reason may be that the companies are biased against conservative ideas.
They deny that. But look at their actions. Social media companies say they forbid posts that “promote violence,” including ones that encourage violence offline.
But antifa groups that promote violence still have accounts. The Twitter account of the group in Portland, Oregon, that recently beat up journalist Andy Ngo, leaving him with brain damage, is still up.
“In Austin, they were calling for a paramilitary operation!” Glenn Beck says. That antifa group’s Facebook account is also still up, even though it links to a manifesto calling for opponents to be “beaten bloody.”
In my newest video, Beck, who runs a big media operation called The Blaze, says social media companies push a leftist agenda.
“They manipulate algorithms to reshape our world.”
Beck himself hasn’t been banned, but he says Facebook limits his reach, putting him in a “digital ghetto.”
“They’re shaping you,” he warns.
Is it true?
Although I’m not a conservative, sometimes I do notice odd things happening with my posts.
On average, my videos get more than a million views. But when I did one that criticized Facebook, that video got half as many views.
Because Facebook didn’t show it to many people?
I can’t know. Facebook won’t say.
Today, social media companies are pressured to cut off anyone spreading hate. In response, YouTube and Facebook say they now even demote content that almost violates policies.
But those antifa accounts are still up.
By contrast, Beck says, conservative accounts are censored merely for making fun of Democrats.
“Remember the person who slowed down (a video of House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi?” he asked.
The video made Pelosi sound drunk. It went viral, but once Facebook got complaints, the company announced it “dramatically reduced its distribution.”
When Facebook did that, notes Beck, “The person in charge happened to be one of the leaders in Nancy Pelosi’s office who had just left to go to work for Facebook.”
I told Beck that Facebook hires some Republicans. “They do,” he replied, “but only about 20%, and not in top level positions.”
The site Spinquark did the research Beck cites, finding dozens of Democratic campaign workers who now work for social media companies.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once invited Beck and some others to come to his offices to talk about bias.
“I sat with him and he said, ‘Why would we do that?’ And I said, ‘I want to believe you, but your actions don’t match.’ ”
Beck was also unhappy with conservatives at that meeting. “Some said, ‘Mark, solve this by having affirmative action. ... For every liberal you hire, hire a conservative.’ ”
“I don’t want that!” Beck said. “We don’t need more regulation!”
But it’s human nature, when people see a problem, to demand government do something.
Beck himself fell prey to that when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claimed she saw border guards telling migrants to drink water from toilets. On his radio show, Beck said government should “prosecute anyone making outrageous charges like this!”
I gave him a hard time about that. “You want prosecution of members of Congress who say nonsense?!”
Beck laughed and quickly walked his statement back. “John, I speak five hours off script every day. ... There’s a lot that I vomit out.”
“No censorship,” Beck says.
“Publish everything?” I asked.
“Yes!” Beck answered. “We can handle it. Stop treating us like children.”
I agree. On at least some platforms, all speech should be free. The more that is blocked, the less we learn.
John Stossel is author of “No They Can’t! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed.”