Facebook Weighs Complaints from Left and Right

The anti-conservative bias exhibited by Silicon Valley’s tech giants and its impact on our cultural and political life is a huge topic that we have addressed many times. This post will just note a few recent developments.

Tyler O’Neil reports on Facebook’s consideration of dueling bias claims:

On Tuesday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced a few results from the “civil rights” audit led by former ACLU lawyer Laura Murphy. That audit focuses on liberal concerns like voter suppression and targeting of minorities.

How voters could be “suppressed” on Facebook is anyone’s guess. But this liberal “audit,” in which groups like the NAACP, Color of Change, the Human Rights Campaign, the Urban League participated, is dear to the hearts of those who run Facebook:

Sandberg personally endorsed the “civil rights” audit, writing, “the civil rights audit is deeply important to me, and it’s one of my top priorities for 2019.”

For some reason, Facebook is conducting an entirely separate investigation into bias claims by conservatives, which has not been similarly endorsed by the company’s management. The results of that investigation, which is being carried out by Covington & Burling, a highly-respected Washington law firm, will be released next year. I can give the Covington lawyers a head start, based on testimony by Jeremy Tedesco of the Alliance Defending Freedom before the House Judiciary Committee, highlighted by Mark Pulliam.

Put aside for a moment the fact that Facebook, as Tedesco testified, once banned the Declaration of Independence as hate speech, and generally suppresses any criticism of, or opposition to, abortion. The problems go deeper. For one thing, Facebook has adopted the European Union’s restrictive (and non-American) views on “hate speech”:

Facebook takes its cues on hate speech from Europe. Along with other tech giants, it signed an agreement with the European Commission to suppress “hate speech” online, including “all forms of intolerance.”

Liberals generally define “intolerance” and “hate speech” to include more or less everything with which they disagree, so that “tolerance” requires suppression of views other than their own. Orwell should have thought of that one. But there is more. Where does Facebook turn for advice on what constitutes “hate speech”?

Silicon Valley polices “hate speech” and “intolerance” by delegating their regulation to far-left advocacy groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center. … Facebook acts on the SPLC’s advice to identify “hate speech,” which in the SPLC’s opinion includes mainstream religious or conservative views.

Our readers probably know that the SPLC, apart from being the world’s richest organization with the word “poverty” in its name, is a thoroughly-discredited hate group that exists only to pursue a far-left political agenda. We hope that future defamation cases, like the $3.375 million settlement the SPLC recently paid to Islamic moderate Maajid Nawaz, drive the SPLC into bankruptcy. But that process, given the SPLC’s vast offshore riches, could take a while. Meanwhile, we are stuck with their vicious slanders.

Mr. Tedesco testified on behalf of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which the SPLC libeled as a “hate group”:

Amazon excluded ADF from the Smile program after five years of participation based solely on SPLC’s ideologically driven “hate group” designation.

SPLC’s designation of ADF as a “hate group” is, frankly, preposterous. ADF is one of the nation’s most respected legal organizations advocating for the freedom of every American to peacefully speak, live, and work according to one’s convictions without fear of government punishment. Since 2011, ADF has won nine victories in the United States Supreme Court, including:

National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, 138 S. Ct 2361 (2018) – preventing states from requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion or otherwise undermine their pro-life message;

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 138 S. Ct. 1719 (2018) – overturning a court order requiring a cake artist to create custom wedding cakes celebrating same-sex weddings based on religious hostility;

Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, 137 S. Ct. 2012 (2017) – barring the government from excluding religious institutions from a grant program that enables qualifying applicants to purchase rubber playground surface to ensure children’s safety;

Geneva College v. Burwell & Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell, 136 S. Ct. 1557 (2016) (these two ADF cases were consolidated with Zubik v. Burwell, which vacated lower courts’ rulings against the schools and remanded for further proceedings, stating that the government may not enforce the abortion-pill mandate until the issue is resolved);

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (consolidated with Conestoga Wood Specialties), 134 S. Ct. 2751 (2014) – striking down federal burdens on ADF’s client’s free-exercise rights;

Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 135 S. Ct. 2218 (2015) – unanimous decision upholding a church’s free speech right to place signs inviting people to its services on equal terms with other
signs;

Town of Greece v. Galloway, 134 S. Ct. 1811 (2014) — upholding a town’s practice of
opening its public meetings with prayer;

Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, 131 S. Ct. 1436 (2011) –
dismissing an Establishment Clause challenge to Arizona’s tuition tax credit program, which allows residents to claim a tax credit for donations to private organizations that provide scholarships for children to attend private schools.

Recently, one expert ranked Alliance Defending Freedom first among “[t]he top performing firm[s]” in the nation because it “won all four of its decisions before the Court during the five-year period” spanning 2013-2017.

So the U.S. Supreme Court is a hate group too, apparently. And the Constitution, like the Declaration of Independence, is a hate document. Don’t laugh: that is exactly what the SPLC thinks. Maybe Facebook agrees.

We will have much more to say about the left-wing dominance of supposedly neutral platforms like Facebook during the months to come. In the meantime, it is safe to say that any platform that relies on the Southern Poverty Law Center to police “hateful” content–content which is, almost always, protected by the First Amendment–is a tool of the Left.

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