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Bad actions by big tech is one of the most important issues facing America today. And what makes it so very difficult to address — just ask any attorney general who has tried to subpoena Facebook or Google — is that big tech giants have all the evidence and only give out what they want to. And they don’t want to give out much.
The surest proof of bias lies behind the magic curtain of these monster companies in Silicon Valley. But unless you’ve pledged undying loyalty to the Secret Fraternity of The Brotherhood of the Newsfeed Algorithm, you will never see the inner workings of the most influential and persuasive pieces of software code in the world.
And none of us seemed to notice — or care — until big tech started taking action after now-President Donald Trump’s political prominence began rising in 2015. Not surprisingly, their actions seemed to target activists on one side of the ideological spectrum.
Maybe my use of the word “seemed” is too generous.
“Of 22 prominent, politically active individuals who are known to have been suspended [by Twitter] since 2005 and who expressed a preference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, 21 supported Donald Trump,” reported Richard Hanania, a Ph.D and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University, in a February study.
Twitter’s actions have not gone unnoticed by the president.
Back in March, Trump called out the bias of Facebook, Google and Twitter by claiming they were on the side of the “Radical Left Democrats.” Trump also compared them to the “corrupt” mainstream media.
Facebook, Google and Twitter, not to mention the Corrupt Media, are sooo on the side of the Radical Left Democrats. But fear not, we will win anyway, just like we did before! #MAGA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2019
But since March, nothing has improved and Twitter’s actions have been anything but neutral. So, over the weekend, Donald Trump blasted the company again.
Twitter should let the banned Conservative Voices back onto their platform, without restriction. It’s called Freedom of Speech, remember. You are making a Giant Mistake!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2019
“Twitter should let the banned Conservative Voices back onto their platform, without restriction,” Trump wrote in a Twitter post.
“It’s called Freedom of Speech, remember. You are making a Giant Mistake!”
According to Hanania’s research, Trump has every reason to be upset.
“Indeed, assuming some randomness in enforcement unrelated to bias, one would have to assume that conservatives were at least four times as likely as liberals to violate Twitter’s neutrally applied terms of service to produce even a 5% chance (the standard benchmark) that a 22-data point sample would yield a result as skewed as 21-1,” Hanania wrote.
Let me interpret that for you. That means that according to Hanania, Twitter is taking action against Trump supporters at four times the rate the company is taking action against those who didn’t support Trump.
The idea that Trump supporters are violating Twitter’s terms of service four times more than those that don’t support Trump “doesn’t seem credible,” observed Hanania.
Hanania isn’t buying it. And it’s clear Donald Trump isn’t buying it either.