Monday, February 15, 2021 : By Nathan Skates
Social media censorship of conservative voices increased dramatically in the months since the 2020 general election, and that trend has continued in recent weeks with the banning of several high-profile accounts — though not all of them are conservative or even blatantly political accounts. For example, Twitter recently banned James O’Keefe and Project Veritas, but they also banned Focus on the Family, a pro-family Christian organization. In addition, Instagram banned the account of liberal Democrat Robert F. Kennedy Jr., while YouTube locked the account of LifeSiteNews, an international news service, and deleted its entire video collection.
Twitter banned the account of Project Veritas due to “repeated violations” of the company’s policy prohibiting the sharing of private information. On Wednesday, Project Veritas posted leaked videos of Facebook executives discussing censorship efforts. The group also posted a video in which a journalist attempted to ask Facebook’s Vice President of Integrity Guy Rosen about his comments in the video by going to his home.
In the first video, Rosen said, “We have a system that is able to freeze commenting on threads in cases where our systems are detecting that there may be a thread that has hate speech or violence, sort of in the comments.” In the second video, Rosen refused to answer the journalist’s questions, walked inside, and closed the door.
O’Keefe told TheWrap, “What I’m trying to understand is: What about what we did is quote ‘posting private information?’”
“Reporters with microphones [and] cameras engage in reporting activities on the streets all the time in residential communities, so I’m trying to understand what Twitter considers violating their rules against posting private information. Does Twitter consider reporting information the public has a right to know private information? This is quite the Rubicon we’re crossing if Twitter wants to ban this particular piece of information.”
O’Keefe said Twitter was willing to reinstate the account if they deleted the posts. “This is nothing new from Twitter — just last fall Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted in Congress [that] his company’s decision to block the New York Post was erroneous while still demanding the Post kneel before them by deleting the tweet,” O’Keefe said. “Here we go again — Twitter opting to delete news and demand fealty when their decision is dared to be questioned. “
Meanwhile, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was banned by Instagram for sharing “misinformation” about vaccines. A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said, “We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines.”
Kennedy responded, “This kind of censorship is counterproductive if our objective is a safe and effective vaccine supply.” Kennedy has shared posts in the past about the alleged dangers of various vaccines, not just the COVID-19 vaccine.
On February 8, Facebook announced that it would ramp up efforts to combat misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, saying the company is
“expanding our efforts to remove false claims on Facebook and Instagram about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines, and vaccines in general during the pandemic. We will begin enforcing this policy immediately, with a particular focus on Pages, groups and accounts that violate these rules, and we’ll continue to expand our enforcement over the coming weeks. Groups, Pages and accounts on Facebook and Instagram that repeatedly share these debunked claims may be removed altogether.”
YouTube, for its part, recently banned LifeSiteNews from its platform and removed its video library for allegedly violating the platform’s policy on sharing COVID-19 misinformation three times in a three-month timeframe, even though one of the “strikes” was for a video about Catholic Christmas traditions. “This isn’t a temporary ban; every single one of our videos is completely gone,” LifeSite explained. “Thankfully, we have backups of all our videos, but this means hundreds of thousands of people have lost access to our truth-telling content.”
LifeSite later released a statement, saying,
“The truth is, we’ve been anticipating this for some time. YouTube and other tech titans are simply not interested in allowing anyone to dissent from their state-approved, liberal, totalitarian ideology. Fortunately, we’ve already taken pre-emptive measures to ensure the truth will continue to reach the ears of those most in need of it in these dictatorial times. We are active on various other platforms like Gab, Telegram, and Rumble, and encourage others to join us there.”
Meanwhile, in early February, Twitter censored Focus on the Family’s The Daily Citizen account, claiming that they had violated community standards by sharing “hateful” content. The hateful conduct in question? A tweet regarding Biden’s appointment of a transgender person to serve as assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services. It said, “Dr. Levine is a transgender woman, that is, a man who believes he is a woman.”
Focus on the Family responded to the deletion of its account by noting,
“Numerous outlets reported on Levine’ appointment — including President Biden’s White House — noting Dr. Levin’s transgender identification. Many of the articles and tweets explained that Dr. Levin was born male, believed he is really a woman, had surgery and opposite-sex hormones, and now identifies as a woman.”
Focus on the Family said they believe Twitter discriminated against them based on their religious affiliation.
For years conservatives claimed tech companies were censoring posts or limiting the number of people who could see their content, but now that censorship is starting to ensnare anyone who holds a view contrary to the Big Tech oligarchs and the political ideologies they support.
Their penchant for supressing speech and ideas is no longer something they are trying to hide. In January, Project Veritas leaked a video of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey discussing the company’s plans after banning then President Donald Trump. “We know we are focused on one account right now, but this is going to be much bigger than just one account, and it’s going to go on for much longer than just this day, this week, the next few weeks, going on beyond inauguration. We have to expect that. We have to be ready for that.”
Twitter claims Project Veritas violated their policy on sharing private information, but had no problem with The New York Times committing a federal crime by sharing Trump’s tax information. As The Federalist detailed, the social media company only seems to censor content that doesn’t align with its political views. Take, for example. the doxing of conservative media host Tucker Carlson by an Antifa activist, which took Twitter hours to remove. After activists vandalized Carlson’s home, he and his family were forced to move. Left-wing activists shared not only Carlson’s home address but also his brother’s and that of fellow media host Sean Hannity and author Ann Coulter.
When Antifa posted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s address and protested around his home, he shared a video of the mob outside his home. Twitter banned McConnell’s account and allowed the hashtag “#MassacreMitch” to trend for a weekend.
Big Tech’s seemingly retaliatory behavior that seeks to silence opposition makes one question whether Kennedy’s ban was only about vaccines. Kennedy, a liberal, has also spoken out passionately on the importance of fighting Big Tech censorship. In a recent video, he said,
“Authoritarian elements in a society and large corporations and wealthy plutocrats and oligarchs, wealthy families and individuals use crises to shift wealth upward to obliterate the middle classes of those countries and to clamp down totalitarian control….The people who want to do that, the large corporations who orchestrate that kind of change, have to get rid of civil rights. The first civil right that they begin with is freedom of speech. They need to clamp down censorship because censorship is the most important right. And our country, we put it number one, the First Amendment of the Constitution, because all the other rights depend on it. If a government can hide what it’s doing, it can get away with anything it wants.”
Whether you agree or not with people like O’Keefe or Kennedy or anyone else being banned and canceled, tech companies have far too much power in censoring American speech and controlling the spread of information. Americans don’t need tech elites like Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and others to play nanny and tell them what they should and should not believe. Americans are more than able to decide for themselves.