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Trump calls on Twitter to restore accounts of banned conservative users
Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com
President Donald Trump ramped up his criticism of Big Tech on Sunday, as he called on Twitter to restore the accounts of conservatives banned by the social media giant.
“Twitter should let the banned Conservative Voices back onto their platform, without restriction,” he said. “It’s called Freedom of Speech, remember. You are making a Giant Mistake!”
On Monday, Trump complained of “collusion” between Democrats and Big Tech. Trump has repeatedly complained about Silicon Valley’s censorship of conservatives, but he has so far not taken specific action against Big Tech companies suppressing free speech.
Trump has done much to draw attention to what many conservatives regard as a threat not just to freedom of speech, but to their very right to exist in the public square: the continuous censorship of conservatives by Twitter and other Big Tech platforms. Trump has complained about Big Tech censorship for months and in May launched a now-defunct survey site to get feedback from citizens on their experiences of being censored.
The survey came after Twitter banned a number of prominent conservatives, including actor James Woods, in May. The bans prompted a response from Trump, who called Twitter’s actions “very unfair.”
The massive power that Big Tech has amassed to moderate the public square has brought bipartisan blowback — from Republicans, who complain of censorship, and many Democrats, who complain that the platforms don’t do enough to fight hate speech and disinformation, especially from “Russian trolls.” But Democrats have blasted Trump for complaining about Big Tech censorship of conservatives, saying that Trump is merely amplifying a “conspiracy theory.”
Republicans and Democrats have considered breaking up the Big Tech monopoly. Trump’s complaints come as the House Judiciary Committee is set to begin an investigation into whether Big Tech companies ought to be subjected to more vigorous antitrust enforcement.
On Monday, Trump complained on CNBC’s Squawk Box that Big Tech companies like Facebook and Google were “discriminating” against him and adding that there is “something going on in terms of monopoly.” Trump cited the European Union’s litigation against Big Tech companies, but stopped short of making a firm commitment to taking similar antitrust action.
“We are going to maybe look at it differently. We have a great attorney general. We’re going to look at it differently,” he said.
“I can tell you they discriminate against me,” Trump said when asked about companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon. “People talk about collusion. The real collusion is between the Democrats and these companies because they were so against me during my election run.”
Big Tech companies maintain that they have no political bias and that alleged censorship is the result of the opaque workings of their “algorithms.” But those “algorithms” have proven again and again to be biased against conservatives.
In a separate but related development, Twitter was ablaze with controversy last week when conservative entertainer Stephen Crowder was demonetized by YouTube after Vox writer and leftist activist Carlos Maza complained that Crowder was cyberbullying him. The action against Crowder came even as YouTube said that Crowder had not violated its community guidelines with anti-gay jokes aimed at Maza.
Maza’s complaint set off a remarkable, worrisome chain of events: a random, seemingly unaffiliated liberal blogger managed to coerce Google into punishing a conservative. Numerous conservatives including black author Jesse Lee Petersen were reportedly caught up in an ensuing demonetization crossfire.
The Crowder spat came as YouTube announced plans last week to wipe thousands of “hateful” videos from YouTube, ranging from Neo-Nazi content to vague “hate speech.” YouTube ended up mistakenly deleting educational history videos on Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.
The Crowder-Maza dustup also came one month after Facebook banned Alex Jones and other allegedly “dangerous” figures. Jones was banned from Twitter and most social media last summer in what was widely seen as an organized purge. At the time, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted that the company has a liberal bias, but claimed it did not affect the way content is moderated.
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