“This could end up being the free speech issue of our time.”
Those are the words of Breitbart Editor in Chief Alex Marlow, whose news organization has published articles exposing alleged political bias and censorship by search giant Google and its video-sharing website YouTube.
“The Silicon Valley elites are saying, ‘We don’t care what you want to see – we know what you should see,” Marlow told the New York Times. “We know better.”
As WND has reported, several high-profile conservatives are accusing tech and social media giants Twitter, Google and YouTube of discrimination in a series of lawsuits against the organizations. WND has also reported on alleged censorship of conservative content by social-media giant Facebook.
The issue of censorship of conservative viewpoints by the websites was even the subject of a hugely popular discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month titled “Suppression of Conservative Views on Social Media: A First Amendment Issue.”
James Damore, a former Google engineer who was fired after writing a memo accusing the tech giant of “alienating conservatives” at its Bay Area headquarters, told the Times: “There are political activists in all of these companies that want to actively push a liberal agenda. Why does it matter? Because these companies are so ubiquitous and powerful that they are controlling all the means of mass communication.”
Some CPAC panelists described efforts by the websites to spike their videos or remove their advertising.
The problem is finally getting some public exposure, and it’s likely to be addressed in an upcoming documentary film by best-selling author Peter Schweizer tentatively titled “The Creepy Line.” The film is expected to examine the censorial and elitist powers at Facebook and Google. The documentary’s title is a reference to a 2010 speech made by then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who explained that the search giant’s policy on privacy was “to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”
As WND reported, Damore has filed a class-action lawsuit along with another former Google engineer, David Gudeman, for wrongful termination.
The suit, filed in January in Santa Clara Superior Court in California, charges Google discriminated against them and other employees for their political views and for being white males.
“Damore, Gudeman, and other class members were ostracized, belittled, and punished for their heterodox political views, and for the added sin of their birth circumstances of being Caucasians and/or males,” the lawsuit alleges. “This is the essence of discrimination – Google formed opinions about and then treated Plaintiffs not based on their individual merits, but rather on their membership in groups with assumed characteristics.”
The complaint also provides evidence that Google managers developed “blacklists” of conservative employees with whom they wouldn’t work on any project.
It cites violation of the California labor code for, among other things, discriminating against an employee for engaging in political activities, threatening employees with termination as “a means of coercing or influencing employees’ political activities” and discrimination on the basis of gender or race.
The complaint states Google employees and managers “strongly preferred to hear the same orthodox opinions regurgitated repeatedly, producing an ideological echo chamber, a protected, distorted bubble of groupthink.”
When Damore and Gudeman “challenged Google’s illegal employment practices, they were openly threatened and subjected to harassment and retaliation from Google,” the complaint charges.
“Google created an environment of protecting employees who harassed individuals who spoke out against Google’s view or the ‘Googley way,’ as it is sometimes known internally. Google employees knew they could harass Plaintiffs with impunity, given the tone set by managers – and they did so.”
The complaint alleges Google “employs illegal hiring quotas to fill its desired percentages of women and favored minority candidates, and openly shames managers of business units who fail to meet their quotas – in the process, openly denigrating male and Caucasian employees as less favored than others.”
Damore and Gudeman assert that not only “was the numerical presence of women celebrated at Google solely due to their gender, but the presence of Caucasians and males was mocked with ‘boos’ during company-wide weekly meetings.”
See James Damore’s interview with Tucker Carlson in August 2017:
In January, Google was accused of censoring six conservative media sites (Breitbart, the Daily Caller, Daily Wire, the Blaze, Gateway Pundit and WND), treating them as “fake news” by posting warnings about their content. However, according to reports, the top 20 left-leaning sites did not have “reviews claimed,” and news organizations such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the New Yorker actually received “awards” from Google rather than warnings.
Just Thursday, WND reported that Google refers people to the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center for reputation research on sites and pages. It’s the company’s Google User Content General Guidelines that cites the group.
“Reputation research is important for identifying websites that promote hate and violence. The Pew Research Center, Anti-Defamation League, and the Southern Poverty Law Center are some reputable sources that can be used for reputation research,” Google states.
The recommendation is in the middle of a series of tutorials on “deceptive pages,” “lowest quality main content,” “misleading or inaccurate YMYL informational main content.”
As for the Google-owned YouTube.com, conservative Dennis Prager’s organization, Prager University, has sued the platform for listing more than 40 of its videos under “restricted mode,” limiting access to the videos for many users.
“YouTube does not want young people to hear conservative ideas,” PragerU stated. “… Many families enable restricted mode in order to keep inappropriate and objectionable adult and sexual content away from their children — not to prevent them from watching animated, age-appropriate, educational videos.”
At the National Religious Broadcasters’ convention last week, Prager said: “The case is very simple. There is a fraudulent aspect to what Google represents itself to be. It says, ‘We are an open forum.’ They’re not. They’re a left-wing forum. If our lawsuit fails, what will happen is they will be given judicial sanction to make the internet what the university has become – a world closed off to non-left wing, even closed off to liberal thought.
Prager explained that there’s a difference between liberal and leftist.
“The left is the antithesis of liberalism and the antithesis of conservatism. That is what needs to be made known. Google is left. Liberals allow free speech. Leftists never did. Since Lenin until Google, it hasn’t. That is how big this lawsuit is. … Please understand, the internet will be Berkeley if they are allowed by judges to continue what they’re doing.”
As WND reported, in January, Prager ripped YouTube for labeling an educational video on the Korean War as “pornographic.”
“They censor videos that are not on the left. Anyone who watches our 40 videos will know that their censorship is ideologically driven,” Prager said, explaining that his organization isn’t after money from YouTube but is seeking to get the platform to fix its policy.
“I want people to understand how serious this is. If we lose, it means that the greatest contemporary vehicles for an open society are closed,” he said. “The censorship is from leftists, and liberals have to decide if they are liberals or leftists. The greatest threat to liberalism comes from the left.”
Prager has said the YouTube problem will be addressed in an upcoming documentary film, “No Safe Spaces.”
In his weekly column published at WND, Michael Brown has detailed some of his own struggles with YouTube, which are separate from the Prager case. Brown said the site had flagged a number of his videos as “Not suitable for most advertisers,” including the following:
1) Videos dealing with homosexuality: “Testimony: Jackie Hill Perry on Being Saved out of a Homosexual Lifestyle,” “Mainstreaming Gay on Prime-Time TV”
2) Videos dealing with sexual ethics: “Why Mike Pence’s Sexual Ethics Make Good Christian Sense,” “The Death of Manson” and “Biblical Sexual Ethics Make Sense”
3) Videos dealing with abortion: “A Feminist Atheist and a Nun Agree on Abortion,” “Dr. Brown Sets the Record Straight on Pastor Carl Lentz and Abortion”
4) Videos dealing with conservative politics: “Judge Roy Moore’s Vision for America”
5) Videos critiquing the secular media: “Don Lemon, There’s a Reason We Pray”
6) Videos about Israel and the Jewish people: “Is Donald Trump Fulfilling Biblical Prophecy about Jerusalem?,” “Martin Luther and the Jews” and “Has Christianity ‘Replaced’ Judaism?”
7) Other, spiritually based videos: “An 11-Year-Old Caller Wants to Be Sure He Is Saved” and “A Time to Mourn” (reflections after the Texas church massacre)
YouTube later approved the above videos after a manual review, but Brown said it began flagging his videos again, including the following titles: “Dr. Brown Answers Your Questions,” “Answers to Your Questions,” “You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers,” “Dr. Brown Answers Your Questions Live on Black Friday,” “Dr. Brown Takes Your Calls and Responds to Some Critics,” “Are There Things God Can’t Do?,” “What Is a ‘Biblical’ Worldview?,” “Does God Promise to Deliver Us from Suffering?,” “Who Are the 144,000 in the Book of Revelation?,” “What Do Jewish Millennials Believe?” and “Does God Predestine People to Hell?”
“Unfortunately, on a practical level, the moment one of your videos is flagged, you no longer receive any income for it. And once you request a manual review, unless it’s viewed 1,000 times in a seven-day period, it will not be reviewed,” Brown explained.
“And since we post so many videos and have about 36,000 subscribers (as opposed to, say, one million subscribers), a number of these videos will not meet this threshold, and so they will never be reviewed. That means that there is the ongoing loss of important income that we would have immediately reinvested in our nonprofit ministry to help us produce more quality videos.
“I do remain hopeful that with enough pressure from enough people, YouTube will make a course correction and do the right thing.”
The Daily Caller recently reported that the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center was chosen to help YouTube police website content. According to the report, YouTube’s “Trust Flaggers” police the website for purported hate speech and terror-related content. The SPLC has come under fire in recent years for listing legitimate conservative organizations as “hate groups.”
In 2015, singer Joyce Bartholomew reportedly sued YouTube for its removal of her pro-life music video.
In the case of Facebook, the social media platform apparently adjusted its algorithm, a move that spiked President Donald Trump’s page engagement, according to a recent Breitbart report. The new algorithm is purportedly intended to change the News Feed to focus on content from “friends, family and groups” rather than content posted on public pages for “businesses, brands and media.”
Facebook also promised it would push “broadly trusted” news sources on the site.
“Engagement on Donald Trump’s Facebook posts has dropped by approximately 45 percent since the platform introduced a new algorithm change, following a year of pressure from left-wing employees and the mainstream media for ‘allowing’ the president to win the general election,” Breitbart’s Allum Bokhari reported, along with the following graph illustrating a significant decline in total engagement on Trump’s page.
Bokhari also noted that Trump’s average engagement dropped 38 percent since Facebook’s algorithm change.
“When compared to high-profile Democratic political figures, Trump’s engagement appears to have been hit particularly badly,” he wrote. “Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders do not appear to have suffered a comparable decline in Facebook engagement.”
A Facebook spokesperson told Bokhari: “Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it.”
In 2016, a former Facebook trending news curator admitted to DigiDay that content from conservatives received extra scrutiny from the site: “Ninety percent of the team identified as liberal, including the copy editors, who essentially had the final approval on topics. If a source came up that may have been less credible to a liberal reviewer — like Breitbart or another publication like that — it would require more extensive secondary sourcing. However, if there was an article that came from a more liberal-slanted publication, it was essentially given less critique and was a more viable topic from the get-go.”
Just a week ago, WND reported that Christian writer and blogger Julio Severo accused Facebook of punishing him with a 30-day ban for posting Leviticus 18:22 in Portuguese, “Não de deitarás com homem, como se fosse mulher; abominação é.” (“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”)
Facebook sent a message to Severo that said: “We Removed Something You Posted. It looks like something you posted doesn’t follow our Community Standards. We remove posts that attack people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender or disability. Levítico 18.22: Não de deitarás com homem, como se fosse mulher; abominação é.”
After WND’s report, Severo’s page was re-activated and a Facebook statement to WND, released on condition that it be considered “on background,” said the post “was mistakenly removed by a member of our review team after we received reports that content in the post violated our Community Standards.”
Facebook said: “As soon as we were notified of the problem, we began to investigate and restored the content as soon as we were able to identify the mistake. The content has been restored since it didn’t violate our standards. We’ve informed Mr. Severo of the restoration and apologized for the error.”
But Severo told WND there was no apology. And he said there’s a longtime pattern of Facebook attacking him.
Twitter is now reportedly censoring pro-lifers, the Daily Caller reported Tuesday.
Devin Sena, a conservative writer, said he posted a photo on the site Saturday with the caption “This is human” and the hashtag “TriggerALiberalIn4Words.”
Twitter responded by labeling the tweet “sensitive material” and issuing a warning to many users who tried to view it.
The social media site sent an email to Sena that stated: “Upon review, we have determined that the media is potentially sensitive and have labeled it accordingly. There will now be a click-through warning message over the media for users whose accounts are set so they are informed before viewing media that may be sensitive.”
The Daily Caller said Twitter warned Sena that his his tweets may even be censored in the future. The news organization also noted that Twitter banned the pro-life group Human Coalition from advertising three pro-life tweets in February.
Just last week, the issue of Twitter censorship captured the attention of Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who accused the site of blocking a campaign video she posted that detailed her own House leadership against Planned Parenthood’s alleged trafficking of baby body parts.
“That is how pro-life language was treated,” Rep. Blackburn told Proclaim 18, the National Religious Broadcasters’ International Christian Media Convention. “I said, ‘To me, harvesting and selling baby body parts evokes a very strong negative reaction.’ … I stood my ground, and eventually Twitter relented. … When you censor free speech for one, you censor it for all. … The video went back up on Twitter. That’s the kind of stand that we have to take when tech oversteps.
Also on Monday, Twitter went to war with a pro-Israel group, the Washington Free Beacon reported. The site suspended an account belonging to Canary Mission, an organization that combats anti-Semitism.
“As the battle intensified, Canary Mission has accused Twitter of having a ‘Jewish problem’ and of targeting pro-Israel groups for suspension while allowing white supremacists such as David Duke and terror organizations such as Hamas to continue operating unfettered on the social media network,” the Free Beacon reported.
“The battle mirrors a larger debate over Twitter’s effort to crackdown on accounts that the company views as engaging in hate speech and intimidation. The crackdown on speech has seen several accounts associated with conservative media frozen, and in some cases, booted off the social network.”
Twitter reportedly suspended the Canary Mission account on Feb. 24 “without reason.” When the organization appealed the decision, the site reportedly said it had violated new policies on “hateful conduct.” Twitter re-instated the account the next day after public outcry but then suspended it again over the weekend.
A Twitter representative told the Free Beacon, “The account was temporarily locked in error and has since been restored.” But Canary Mission said it still had no access to its account.
“It is still viewable, but Twitter has prevented Canary Mission from accessing its account – unless it deletes a tweet that Twitter claims has violated its rules. Could this be the same tweet that caused the initial suspension? If so, this case has just become even more disturbing … perhaps bizarre.”
Twitter restored the account yet again after the Free Beacon article was featured on the Drudge Report Tuesday evening.
That’s only the beginning of alleged political bias at Twitter.
In January, WND reported explosive video released by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas revealed Twitter employees are willing to use their access to President Trump’s account to bring down the nation’s commander in chief.
Twitter employee Clay Haynes, who has worked at the company since 2016, spoke to an undercover journalist from Project Veritas on Jan. 3. Haynes, a self-declared “bleeding-heart liberal,” outlined specific ways the company could help take down the president, including providing every single tweet Trump has made, even those that have been deleted, as well as any direct messages. Direct messages are usually regarded as private. Haynes openly declared his desire to end the Trump administration.
In yet another video released by O’Keefe, former Twitter software employee Abhinov Vadrevu said Twitter has ways to ban users of its social-media platform without letting them know. It’s called “shadow banning,” and its frequently used against conservatives.
“One strategy is to shadow ban so you have ultimate control. The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting and no one sees their content. So they just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it,” he said.
See the conversation (Caution about offensive language in video):
Republican political consultant Roger Stone was banned from Twitter in October. The site claimed his tweets to CNN reporters were harassing and threatening.
Stone said the Twitter ban is clearly “hypocrisy.”
“Verified tweeters call for my murder online every day, but Twitter doesn’t ban them,” he said.
Also, GotNews.com owner Charles Johnson announced in January that he is suing Twitter, which banned him from the platform permanently in 2015. He claims Twitter discriminated against him because of his political views and violated his free-speech rights. Johnson filed his lawsuit Jan. 8 in California Superior Court in Fresno.
“This is going to be a very serious case over the freedom of the Internet,” Johnson told Buzzfeed News. “The social-media giants fashion themselves utilities rather than monopolies. They’ve said so. But you don’t see the electric company stifling free speech.”