America’s religious broadcasters are telling tech giants their bias is “well-documented” and they need to fix it before government fixes it for them.
The statement written by Jerry A. Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters, comes as tech industry chiefs are being grilled by Congress over the bias issue.
On Wednesday, Twitter shares plunged 6 percent as CEO Jack Dorsey answered questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee.
He appeared beside Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg about election meddling and abuse on their platforms. Google refused to send its CEO or the CEO of its parent company, Alphabet.
President Trump and other Republican leaders have joined other conservatives in charging Twitter, Facebook, Google and others have a left-leaning bias that impacts their platforms.
The Justice Department said Wednesday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will meet with state attorneys general to discuss how the tech firms “may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas.”
Johnson said the tech companies need to take immediate action.
“Now – right now – it’s go-time for free speech. That is the message Silicon Valley must take away from yesterday’s hearing,” said Johnson. “Fix yourself or someone will try to fix you.”
Long before any other news organization, WND was exposing the coordinated campaign by the “Internet Cartel” – Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Amazon, Apple and others – to silence free speech by censoring and suppressing independent, conservative and Christian expression on the Internet. Here are highlights of WND’s groundbreaking news and analysis of what has been called the 21st century’s greatest assault on America’s fundamental freedoms of speech, press and religion.
Johnson said the NRB “has for years suggested a free speech charter based on First Amendment jurisprudence as the basis for an industry-crafted code of conduct.”
“I urge Jack Dorsey and his fellow Big Tech executives to assemble together immediately to fix the undeniable viewpoint suppression problem themselves,” he said.
The First Amendment does not set down requirements for private companies. But when operations become so big that they effectively monopolize one segment of a market, the United States in the past has taken action to regulate them or break them up, which is what happened with the telephone monopoly decades ago.
The NRB said numerous ideas “have been floated by public officials and others by which the government may address the growing censorship problem.”
“Among these are the imposition of new transparency requirements, a re-evaluation of the Good Samaritan clause of the Communications Decency Act’s powerful Section 230, and possibly more heavy-handed measures against ubiquitous tech giants. The U.S. Department of Justice announced yesterday it’s also looking into this matter of viewpoint suppression – to see if tech titans ‘may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.'”
The leaders across religious broadcasting previously documented religious viewpoint censorship by Google, Facebook, Twitter and others.
In fact, its Internet Freedom Watch dates the launch of the attacks on religious viewpoints to the 2010 discrimination by Apple against the late Chuck Colson’s Manhattan Declaration app.
The broadcasters are urging the companies to begin “to honor First Amendment values as refined by centuries of American jurisprudence and to faithfully apply those principles in their policies and practices.”
“It may or may not be intentional, but there is well-documented censorship, and that cannot be ignored forever by the people’s representatives in Congress,” said Johnson. “We need to be very careful not to stifle innovation or, worse, to open the door to Big Brother or an internet Fairness Doctrine. However, light touch doesn’t mean no touch.”
Johnson pointed out that Rep. Morgan Griffith told Dorsey Wednesday that it would be best for the companies to fix the problem rather than having government intervene.
However, “there is a problem and somebody has to do something. … We at NRB stand ready to help however we can, but Big Tech executives must act now.”
Only months ago, the approximately 100 members of NRB board approved a resolution that said, “NRB has urged caution about new regulatory regimes and has lauded the value of free enterprise.”
That document points out that free speech and free enterprise are “bedrock principles that have allowed the internet to grow and flourish.”
It continued, “NRB has documented that incidents of censorship of religious viewpoints by major edge providers, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter, are a growing problem” … and “NRB urges edge provider platforms to embrace their community responsibility to honor First Amendment values.”
Twitter has been caught “shadow banning” conservatives, in which the platform de-emphasizes certain accounts in search results.