There’s a dangerous trend in this country where progressives, having unilaterally normalized their own political point of view, now do everything they can, by any means necessary, to prevent other people from voicing opposing points of view.
We see this on college campuses, where “snowflakes” become “triggered” simply by learning that perhaps someone with whom they disagree may be invited to speak on campus; and so to protect their fellow students from “heresy”, the snowflakes protest (or riot) until the person with the opposing view is silenced, one way or another.
We see this on Facebook and Twitter, You Tube and Google, where progressives engage in organized “reporting” of commentary they don’t like, specifically to suppress points of view with which they disagree.
As a direct result of their reporting of opposing points of view, the social media accounts of conservatives or content posted by conservatives–even members of Congress–gets “shadow banned“, blocked, suspended, limited, or outright deleted.
Additionally, conservatives find their accounts “demonetized” so that they can no longer make money from their posts or videos, while progressives remain free to do so.
Facebook also prevents conservative views from going “viral” or stops conservatives from using certain features. (For example, “Facebook employees admitted in 2016 that the platform “routinely” manipulated its trending news feature to exclude topics of interest to conservatives.“)
So much for freedom of speech.
Mission accomplished! (And with more than a little help from the progressives at the social media giants. Example: Conservative politicians shadow banned, but “not a single member of the 78-person Progressive Caucus faces the same situation in Twitter’s search.”)
[H]ere’s what we take into consideration when ranking [aka shadow banning]:
- Tweets from people you’re interested in should be ranked highly
- Tweets that are popular are likely to be interesting and should be higher ranked
- Tweets from bad-faith actors who intend to manipulate or divide the conversation should be ranked lower
This last bullet is the basis of our work around serving healthy public conversation. Here are some of the signals we use to determine bad-faith actors:
- Specific account properties that indicate authenticity (e.g. whether you have a confirmed email address, how recently your account was created, whether you uploaded a profile image, etc)
- What actions you take on Twitter (e.g. who [sic] you follow, who [sic] you retweet, etc)
- How other accounts interact with you (e.g. who mutes you, who follows you, who retweets you, who blocks you, etc) …
How wonderful! They and they alone get to define what makes up a “healthy conversation.” Get a load of Twitter’s “conversational health advisor.” Feeling as if your free speech rights are in safe hands? Hardly.
From Twitter’s explanation of what makes for a healthy conversation:
To put this in context, fewer than 1% of accounts make up the majority of accounts reported for abuse, but a lot of what’s reported does not violate our rules. While still a small overall number, these accounts have a disproportionately large – and negative – impact on people’s experience on Twitter. The challenge for us has been: how can we proactively address these disruptive behaviors that do not violate our policies but negatively impact the health of the conversation?
How can they, indeed? Wouldn’t it be better to ask why they think they need to “proactively address” behaviors that don’t violate their policies?
Their explanation of what they do is as clear as mud: Someone is reported by someone else, but the reported behavior does not violate Twitter’s rules. Nevertheless, the reported person gets punished because the person doing the reporting must have somehow been negatively impacted. (Take their word for it.)
What a load of crap!
Recently, four Republican congressmen found themselves shadow banned simply as a result of President Trump praising them on Twitter. Or maybe it was because these congressmen were openly taking on the former president’s “intelligence community.”
Whatever it was, whatever the troublesome behavior, it must be an example of these men “interacting” with disruptive behavior or with voices that aren’t deemed “credible,” by Twitter’s own biased “advisors.”
Whatever. It’s something. It’s disruptive. It’s negative. It’s not credible. It’s distracting from a healthy conversation. Trust Twitter.
Does their algorithm seek to suppress trolling that consists of deliberately making something “popular” while simultaneously deliberately making something else unpopular? Think it can handle that disruptive behavior?
Does the algorithm track repeat reporters, in order to ensure that someone (like a progressive troll) isn’t gaming the system? Probably not, as one might guess from the results.
Is anyone allowed to look over the (likely progressive) software engineer’s shoulder to see exactly what goes into this magical algorithm that seems to be biased only against conservative views? (Explain this: “left-of-center sites enjoyed a nearly 14 percent traffic increase following algorithm changes last fall, whereas popular conservative sites saw a 27 percent decline.”)
Here’s the story: Whatever progressives disagree with, whatever “triggers” them, whatever upsets them, whatever they perceive as a “microaggression”– all these make for an unhealthy conversation, in their opinion. So basically anything conservatives say makes for an unhealthy conversation and must be suppressed, in their opinion.
How can one assume that progressives are disproportionately doing the reporting of “disruptive behavior?” Common sense.
Most who are complaining about being shadow banned or censored are conservative voices on the Internet. Voices on the left are not censored, no matter how much hate they spew.
Consider the example just this week where someone running for office suggested that First Lady Melania Trump is a sex worker (in his word, a hoe). No algorithm suppressed that speech, nor did any human monitor, even after the speech was on the Internet for hours and was reported as offensive by many people.
Common sense tells you that there are as many far left voices out there as far right voices. Why, then, are only conservatives caught up in the magical algorithm or blamed for destroying “healthy conversations?”
Let’s assume that conservatives don’t spend their precious hours in a never-ending crusade to quash opposing points of view. We do know, however, (from long experience) that progressives do seek to shut up and shut out those with whom they disagree. For example:
You don’t see conservatives rioting on college campuses to keep leftists from speaking, do you?
Who “mutes” conservative voices on Twitter?
Who “blocks” conservative voices on Twitter?
Who goes all out to make progressive voices “popular” on Twitter?
For that matter, who probably knows exactly how to wage political war against conservative voices in an organized fashion on social media?
Who seems to coordinate activities with other like-minded “folks”, or with like-minded politicians or officials, to game a deliberately arcane system and then later blames the resulting bias on esoteric algorithms which (it will be argued) must remain hidden because they’re trade secrets?
For that matter, who fed private user information to a progressive presidential campaign and then shut down that system when it started to be used by conservatives?
Conservatives tend to not read, or to read and weigh, or to laugh at opposing views. They don’t try to suppress speech with which they disagree, using the power of the government or of social media companies. That’s what progressives do!
It’s a “thing” among progressives to shut other people up when they don’t like what other people have to say. Not only that. Progressives also work to keep others from hearing and considering opposing points of view.
They’re simultaneously infants, who look to big corporations or the government to control other people’s speech, while at the same time, they’re the parents of us all, the ones who get to decide, for our own good, of course, what’s fit for us to hear or read or learn.
Recently, a self-described liberal columnist, writing in a liberal newspaper, wrote about an alleged incident of racial profiling. His column, however, was unusual in that it was far from being politically correct. The writer pointed out certain facts that were missing (deliberately?) from the news reports about the incident–facts that added much-needed balance to readers’ perception of what really happened. (You can read the column here, if you’re interested. Bottom line: There was no racial “profiling” involved; the cops were doing the job they’re paid to do.)
The details of the incident don’t matter for the purposes of this post’s argument. What matters is that the liberal columnist strayed from the liberal plantation by defending the cops, some of whom he may know personally, having lived in that small city for years.
Guess how progressives responded to the column. By writing letters to the editor to excoriate the paper for publishing the column in the first place!
“[I]f only we could squelch reflexive negative voices,” wished one writer.
Another writer complained that the paper was “legitimizing such obvious caustic conjecture” by publishing the “virulent column.” He described the columnist as demonstrating a “toxic disconnect that could have been stemmed by newsroom editors and thoughtful standards upheld by leadership at the paper.”
In both cases, the writers attacked the columnist instead of his arguments, and both tried to shame the editors for having run the column in the first place.
Surprisingly, so far, there’s been no apology from either the columnist or the paper. So far.
Obviously, the knee-jerk reaction of the readers who didn’t like these “alternative facts” was to try to intimidate the editors so that at least in future they will “squelch” (what a word!) or “stem” such “virulent” and “toxic” and “caustic” views.
Facts, you see, are virulent, toxic, and caustic to snowflakes, who often can’t handle the truth.
None of this bodes well for free speech in the age of social media. None of this bodes well for upcoming elections. Currently the left is twisting itself into knots, whinging about Trump’s alleged “collusion” with Russia. Totally ignored, of course, is the well demonstrated collusion between the Democrats and print and television media, as well as the at least perceived collusion between Democrats, progressives, and social media.
Prove us wrong, social media giants. Stop manipulating your “platforms” or, if you won’t, at least stop lying to us and hiding behind your indecipherable, magical algorithms.