Previously, we outlined how the pro-life movement tried to claim censorship from social media giants in order to push their hateful agenda. But it hasn’t stopped at the pro-life movement. From foreign elections to entire hearings on Capitol Hill, this messaging isn’t going away.
Back in April, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to discuss the “filtering practices of social media platforms.” Facebook, Twitter, and Google were invited but did not attend. The hearing turned into somewhat of a circus as Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson (also known as Diamond and Silk), two pro-Trump social media talking heads, made several false statements while under oath. They claimed Facebook blocked their page (Facebook had not) and seemed to commit perjury as they claimed the Trump campaign had never paid them (the campaign had reimbursed them).
Earlier this year, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) was denied advertisement on Twitter for falsely claiming that Planned Parenthood sold “baby body parts.” Initially, this takedown of the advertisement (but not the post itself) seemed to be because of the false claim.
Conservatives expressed outrage that Blackburn’s ad was removed and Twitter then caved, allowing her ad to go through. Allowing advertisers to outright lie to the public is not only bad business practice, it’s also illegal as stated by the Federal Trade Commission. Blackburn testified that experience was a “pressure against free speech” in the congressional hearing. Some Democratic representatives rightly pointed out that small government is a pinnacle for conservatives, but only when it suits them.
“This is a stupid and ridiculous hearing,” stated Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA). Well, the ridiculousness continued into July with a second hearing.
The latest Judiciary Committee hearing on social media censorship was further validation to a conservative agenda to claim victimhood and targeted persecution that is not happening as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all had representatives present. Nick Pickles, Twitter’s senior strategist on public policy, apologized to Rep. Blackburn for removing her Twitter ad.
“Our decision to halt Congresswoman Blackburn’s campaign launch advertisement was a mistake and when it was brought to our attention we in fact rectified it the same day. We apologized to her campaign at the time and would like to apologize to her again today,” said Pickles.
Not only is this dangerous, but it sets a precedent that abortion opponents from a variety of quarters can advertise outrageous, inflammatory claims against abortion providers without evidence.
During this hearing, Rep. David Cicilline claimed these social media giants have “bent over backwards to placate and mollify conservatives.” It definitely seems that way. A new study by Media Matters for America found that Facebook partisan pages had about the same engagement, but conservative pages have more interactions. A study by NewsWhip found similar results. Yet, pro-life groups keep pushing out their anecdotal and far-fetched claims as if they’re fact.
Back in May, Google and Facebook released new policies surrounding the Irish abortion referendum. The Irish people voted on May 25 to legalize abortion in their country. Before the vote, Facebook removed advertisements from any foreign organizations and Google removed all advertisements – both pro- and anti-abortion. Yet this didn’t stop pro-life platforms from painting the narrative that it was only pro-life voices being censored, and doubling down when showed the proof that wasn’t true.
Pro-life leaders then started claiming they’re being “shadow banned,” which is a term being used by conservative leaders to describe when followers of a page simply don’t see the content pushed out, although to be clear there is no evidence that banning is happening. Senator Ted Cruz made this claim about Twitter while stating the platform is a “danger” to democracy. Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group, had their vice president Cheryl Sullenger also making this claim.
Pro-life platforms are even trying to allege that Facebook prioritizing ‘high quality’ news is “censorship.” Consistently and as we’ve seen from the examples above, pro-life “news sites” are not credible resources because they consistently engage in misrepresentation of facts. That’s why it is so concerning that Amazon reached out to Life Site News with an official statement. Life Site News stated Amazon is working with the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights advocacy organization, and tried to paint the organization as “anti-Christian.”
Part of Amazon’s statement read: “Since 2013, Amazon has relied on the US Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center to help us make these determinations. While this system has worked well, we do listen to and consider the feedback of customers and other stakeholders, which we will do here as well.”
Amazon reaching out to Life Site News and stating they will “consider feedback” from them is dangerous as this “news site” is anything but a legitimate news source. One of their latest article titles under their “news” section calls transgender people “transgenders.” A recent blog post is titled “Drag queens at public libraries: the new strategy to indoctrinate kids and sideline Christians” and another blog post stated, “any healthy woman would rejoice” for being able to get pregnant.
Back in May, the site published a “news” article that outright denied the National Abortion Federation’s report that pro-life harassment is on the rise. The article stated, “For instance, in the case of the attempted bombing, there’s been no indication of the suspects having any tie to the pro-life movement.” It goes on to discuss the mass shooting against the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood. The author claims it was not done by a man who was pro-life, despite that the shooter was quoted as being “upset with them performing abortions and the selling of baby parts” – language taken directly from the pro-life Center for Medical Progress smear videos against Planned Parenthood. This site is the epitome of “fake news,” yet Amazon gives it credibility by going on the record with the platform.
These claims of censorship are no longer simply on the fringes of the pro-life movement. Extreme anti-abortion beliefs and rhetoric often move into the mainstream conservative rhetoric, and that’s scary. One only needs to look at the support representatives gave the bogus Center for Medical Progress videos against Planned Parenthood, videos that directly fanned the flames of violence including at a Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado Springs where innocent people were killed and injured in a mass shooting.
Sign our petition and demand that Twitter does not allow inflammatory, ‘pro-life’ and pro-violence speech to be advertised on their platform. If pro-life leaders can make wildly inaccurate claims whenever they’re unhappy and cause social media platforms to bend or even outright ignore their terms of agreement, we’re all in trouble.