Our smart phone’s internet connection provides us greater access to knowledge today than at any other time in human history. However, even though there’s a myriad of web sites sharing information, not all are credible. Some spread lies. Others, who claim non-biased objectivity, sometimes present information out of context, while remaining silent about information highly relevant to the subject being researched.
Large tech companies and internet providers have massive control over our access to that knowledge. If their users and customers cannot trust them, it directly impacts their business. So it’s important for these corporations to appear both credible and non-biased. For example, Google is so trusted that conducting a search online is often called “googling” a topic.
However, these corporations are run by executives with personal biases and motives. It’s important to remember that a tech company is only as objective as its management.
As Americans, our most sacred tenet is our constitutional right to freedom of speech. In fact, our democracy depends on it. In political discourse, all sides deserve an equal platform to speak so that Americans have access to all views before making political choices that affect the future of our country.
So when large tech companies appear to censor and purposefully limit our knowledge for political motives…it threatens every American’s constitutional right to both speak and to be heard.
Google’s motto used to be “Don’t be Evil.” Yet, Google has been caught censoring Anti-Hillary Clinton searches conducted on its search engine. SourceFed published a YouTube video that raises credible concerns that Google searches using their auto complete feature demonstrate both bias and censorship. While Google denies this, the video itself makes it clear there are legitimate censorship concerns here.
Huffington Post reports that Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has expressed deep concern during an open government conference about the Google backed startup called “The Groundwork.” The Groundwork is one of the Clinton Campaign’s largest vendors. According to a Bloomberg report in May 2016, Hillary’s campaign has spent almost $500,000 on their services since April 2015.
Quartz.com reported back in October 2015, that former Google executive Stephanie Hannon is the Clinton Campaign’s chief technology officer.
While these facts alone are enough to question the objectivity of Google, Alphabet, and its management team, it gets worse. Google’s parent company Alphabet, has donated over $400,000 to Hillary’s Presidential campaign.
Recently, Facebook admitted it censored and blocked links to the Democratic National Committee leaks published by Wikileaks. Facebook representatives said that they were flagged as “unsafe.” While this might be considered a one-off mistake, it’s not. A former Facebook editor disclosed to Gizmodo back in May 2016 that Facebook routinely suppressed conservative views and even manipulated trending topics to inject some stories while removing others.
While Facebook denies this, claiming that it’s the algorithms that control the content, the Guardian published internal Facebook documents in May 2016 that destroys the credibility of Facebook’s denial. These documents show that of the 10 news sources considered trusted by Facebook, the majority of them are considered liberal news outlets and that it’s the editors, not the algorithms, that control the content.
Tom Stocky, who’s in charge of Facebook’s Trending Topics, the group that’s been censoring conservative news, donated the maximum amount to Hillary’s campaign back in October 2015. In fact, Hillary’s campaign is the largest recipient of Facebook political donations.
Just as disturbing is that Facebook has been suspending and threatening to suspend the pages and accounts of conservatives. In June 2016, the Gateway Pundit reported that the Women for Trump was threatened with shut down. When conservative activist Lauren Southern posted her concerns about conservative views being censored, Facebook banned her for 30 days.
The Washington Times recently reported that Twitter removed the hastag #DNCLeaks from trending news after the Wikileaks story had about 250,000 tweets when it was pulled. Breitbart, Bernie Sanders supporters, and Vocativ have recently accused twitter of censoring anti-Hillary hashtags.
And, now it appears that Presidential Candidate Donald Trump has been the victim of twitter censorship with what appears to be a shadow ban on his account. While I don’t agree with Trump’s politics, his views deserve to be heard.
While each one of these facts, taken individually, could be easily written off. Together, they demonstrate a very disturbing pattern of censorship of political ideas. As Americans, our political views vary across the spectrum from extreme liberal to extremely conservative and everything in between. However, every one of us is guaranteed freedom of speech under the Constitution of the United States. This includes protection from censorship by tech companies whose massive influence on public discourse can potentially alter the direction of our government.
Censorship is one of the hallmarks of a totalitarian regime. I’m deeply concerned that tech company censorship may constitute violations of federal election laws and may directly undermine our democracy.