By Jon Dougherty
On the day that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) announced a massive $250 million lawsuit against social media giant Twitter, Donald Trump Jr. warned conservative candidates they’re going to have a harder time than their Democrat rivals reaching the public thanks to Big Tech censorship.
In an op-ed for The Hill, Trump warned that the censorship of conservative voices is now “flagrant,” and that “the old arguments about protecting the sanctity of the modern public square are now invalid.”
“From ‘shadowbans’ on Facebook and Twitter, to demonetization of YouTube videos, to pulled ads for Republican candidates at the critical junctures of election campaigns, the list of violations against the online practices and speech of conservatives is long,” the president’s son wrote.
While nothing about Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives truly surprises me anymore, it’s still chilling to see the proof for yourself. If it can happen to me, the son of the president, with millions of followers on social media, just think about how bad it must be for conservatives with smaller followings and those who don’t have the soapbox or media reach to push back when they’re being targeted?
Thanks to a brave Facebook whistleblower who approached James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, we now know that Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant developed algorithms to “deboost” certain content, limiting its distribution and appearance in news feeds. As you probably guessed, this stealth censorship was specifically aimed at conservatives.
Don Jr. lamented that Congress has been asleep at the wheel as more Big Tech censorship has taken place, but added that Republicans in Congress and conservatives around the country are becoming aware of what the social media platforms are doing.
He also praised Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), for taking the lead in pressing Big Tech now and during his time as the state’s attorney general.
Meanwhile, Nunes’ suit against Twitter alleges the social platform “shadowbans conservatives” by intentionally hiding or downgrading their post, “systematically censoring opposing viewpoints” while “totally ‘ignoring’ lawful complaints of repeated abusive behavior,” according to Fox News.
The suit seeks $250 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages against Twitter and a handful of its users.
“Twitter is a machine,” Nunes’ personal attorney, Steven S. Biss, told Fox News. “It is a modern-day Tammany Hall. Congressman Nunes intends to hold Twitter fully accountable for its abusive behavior and misconduct.”
Generally, federal law exempts services like Twitter and Facebook from defamation liability. But Nunes said in his lawsuit that the platform now takes such an active role in both curating and banning content, rather than merely hosting it, that the company ought to face liability like any other media organization that defames.
“Google and Facebook should not be a law unto themselves,” Hawley noted at CPAC recently. “They should not be able to discriminate against conservatives. They should not be able to tell us we need to sit down and shut up!”
In his column, Trump Jr. added: “It’s high time other conservative politicians started heeding Hawley’s warnings, because the logical endpoint of Big Tech’s free rein is far more troubling than conservative meme warriors losing their Twitter accounts. As we’re already starting to see, what starts with social media censorship can quickly lead to banishment from such fundamental services as transportation, online payments and banking.”
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10