Republicans, including Donald Trump, have raged against Twitter and Facebook in recent months, citing anti-conservative bias, censorship and silencing of free speech. According to a new report from New York University, none of that is true.
Disinformation expert Paul Barrett and researcher J Grant Sims found that, far from cracking down on conservatives, social media platforms, through algorithms, have amplified the voices of the right, “often giving conservatives greater reach out to liberal or nonpartisan content creators ”.
The Barrett and Sims report comes as Republicans raise their campaign against social media companies. Conservatives have long complained that platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube show prejudice against the right, laments that intensified when Trump was expelled from all three platforms for inciting the attack on the United States Capitol that left five dead.
The NYU study, published by the Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, found that a claim of anti-conservative bias “is itself a form of misinformation: a falsehood without reliable evidence to back it up.”
“There is no evidence to support the claim that major social media companies are repressing, censoring or otherwise discriminating against conservatives on their platforms,” Barrett said. “In fact, it is often conservatives who gain the most in terms of online engagement and attention, thanks to the platforms’ algorithmic content promotion systems.”
The report found that Twitter, Facebook and other companies showed no bias in removing inflammatory tweets about the Capitol attack, as some on the right have claimed.
Prominent conservatives, including Ted Cruz, the Texas senator, have tried to crack down on big tech companies claiming to be victims of crackdown, which Barrett and Sims found does not exist.
The researchers outlined the problems social media companies face when accused of bias and recommended a number of measures.
“What is needed is a robust reform agenda that addresses the real issues of regulating social media content as it currently exists,” Barrett said. “Only by moving from these false claims can we begin to pursue that agenda in earnest.”
A Study 2020 by the Pew Research Center reported that the majority of Americans believe that social media companies censor political opinions. Pew found that 90% of Republicans believed opinions were being censored, and 69% of Republicans or Republican-leaning people believed that social media companies “generally support the views of liberals on the conservatives “.
Republicans, including Trump, have lobbied to repeal section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects social media companies from legal liability, claiming it allows platforms to crack down on conservative voices.
The NYU report suggests that section 230 should be amended, persuading companies to “accept a number of new responsibilities related to police content” or risk losing liability protections.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism