In response to the continued restriction and censorship of conservatives and their organizations by tech giants Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube, the Media Research Center (MRC) along with 18 leading conservative organizations announced Tuesday the formation of a new, permanent coalition, Conservatives Against Online Censorship.
Conservatives Against Online Censorship will draw attention to the issue of political censorship on social media. This new coalition will urge Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube to address the four following key areas of concern:
· Provide Transparency: We need detailed information so everyone can see if liberal groups and users are being treated the same as those on the right. Social media companies operate in a black-box environment, only releasing anecdotes about reports on content and users when they think it necessary. This needs to change. The companies need to design open systems so that they can be held accountable, while giving weight to privacy concerns.
· Provide Clarity on ‘Hate Speech’: “Hate speech” is a common concern among social media companies, but no two firms define it the same way. Their definitions are vague and open to interpretation, and their interpretation often looks like an opportunity to silence thought. Today, hate speech means anything liberals don’t like. Silencing those you disagree with is dangerous. If companies can’t tell users clearly what it is, then they shouldn’t try to regulate it.
· Provide Equal Footing for Conservatives: Top social media firms, such as Google and YouTube, have chosen to work with dishonest groups that are actively opposed to the conservative movement, including the Southern Poverty Law Center. Those companies need to make equal room for conservative groups as advisers to offset this bias. That same attitude should be applied to employment diversity efforts. Tech companies need to embrace viewpoint diversity.
· Mirror the First Amendment: Tech giants should afford their users nothing less than the free speech and free exercise of religion embodied in the First Amendment as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. That standard, the result of centuries of American jurisprudence, would enable the rightful blocking of content that threatens violence or spews obscenity, without trampling on free speech liberties that have long made the United States a beacon for freedom.
“Social media is the most expansive and most game-changing form of communication today. It is these facts that make online political censorship one of the largest threats to free speech we have ever seen. Conservatives should be given the same ability to express their political ideas online as liberals, without the fear of being suppressed or censored,” said Media Research Center President Brent Bozell.
“Meaningful debate only happens when both sides are given equal footing. Freedom of speech, regardless of ideological leaning, is something Americans hold dear. Facebook, Twitter and all other social media companies must acknowledge this and work to rectify these concerns unless they want to lose all credibility with the conservative movement. As leaders of this effort, we are launching this coalition to make sure that the recommendations we put forward on behalf of the conservative movement are followed through."
The Media Research Center sent letters to representatives at Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube last week asking each company to address these complaints and begin a conversation about how they can repair their credibility within the conservative movement. As of Tuesday, only Facebook has issued a formal response.
On April 16, the Media Research Center released an extensive report detailing the censorship of conservative voices online.
For more information about Conservatives Against Online Censorship, and for more details on the MRC's censorship report please visit: www.stopcensoringconservatives.com
MRCTV is a division of the Media Research Center.