On Wednesday, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell and other conservative leaders released an open letter to Attorney General Bill Barr. The letter highlighted the deep concerns they have about tech giants Google, Twitter and Facebook and the need for transparency and a respect for free speech.
Here is the letter in full:
February 26, 2020
Attorney General William Barr
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Barr,
Last week you pointed out that “No longer are technology companies the underdog upstarts.’ ‘They have become titans of U.S. industry.’” With such power you said, “valid questions have been raised as to whether Section 230′s broad immunity is still needed.”
As conservatives, we do not argue for onerous regulations or burdensome federal legislation. However, as the Media Research Center and the Free Speech Alliance (FSA) have shown, the concerns you raised are quite justified. Consider:
- In August 2018, Google whistleblower Zachary Vorhies shared several documents with James O’Keefe and Project Veritas. These documents included a document with a Google Now blacklist, a Google block list, and hundreds of other pages of material from internal Google memos, emails, and guidelines. These policies and lists primarily targeted conservatives. This allegedly impacted the app and not all Google searches.
- In October of 2018, an 85-page internal Google document leaked to Breitbart argued that in order to prevent certain political events, tech companies would have to start censoring web content. Google’s analysis described a shift from American free speech policy toward one that is more in line with the European tradition: promoting civility, dignity, and editing.
- In January of this year, Twitter censored one of President Trump’s political ads based on his comments at the March for Life. Twitter reportedly labeled the video with a “sensitive content” warning, suggesting it may contain offensive or potentially graphic imagery, despite the fact that it merely showed babies, political candidates, and marches.
- In December of 2019. Twitter suspended the pro-life news organization LifeSite for violating its “rules” after they tweeted an article about Jonathan “Jessica” Yaniv, a biological male, a transgender activist who recently complained that gynecologists wouldn’t see him as a patient. Twitter claimed that the tweet violated its rules, but didn’t specify which ones. Twitter cites three main categories in its rules: safety, privacy, and authenticity. The tweet about Yaniv was public knowledge, as it cited a tweet Yaniv posted himself. It was authentic, it was not “platform manipulation,” impersonation, or a copyright infringement. The tweet did not “promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people,” which Twitter says it prohibits.
- In August of 2019, Facebook notified the pro-life organization Live Action that two of the company’s videos were marked as “false” by fact-checkers. As a result, Live Action was informed that the page’s outreach would be “limited.” The fact-check, which included opinions from Dr. Daniel Grossman and Dr. Robyn Schickler, stated that abortion was defined as “a procedure to end a pregnancy.” Grossman is on the board for the pro-abortion NARAL, and was a consultant for Planned Parenthood. The message of the videos is based on the opinions of 2,500 pro-life obstetricians and gynecologists. In the end, Mark Zuckerberg admitted there was clearly bias on the part of Facebook against Live Action.
- The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List has had ads deleted from its Facebook page a total of six times, according to the Daily Caller. On November 1, Facebook apologized for deleting one ad, saying that it was a “mistake,” but then turned around and deleted another ad running in Montana. Previously, Facebook had deleted two ads that were running in Tennessee, Iowa, and Arizona. Eventually, Facebook apologized and restored the ad.