Western Journal publisher Floyd Brown and Liftable Media CEO Patrick Brown are two of 63 conservative leaders who issued a joint statement Wednesday urging fairer and more transparent policies in order to prevent the suppression of conservative voices on various social media platforms.
“Social media censorship and online restriction of conservatives and their organizations have reached a crisis level,” the statement begins. “Conservative leaders now have banded together to call for equal treatment on tech and social media.”
The statement illustrates the problems conservatives have encountered with Facebook, Twitter, Google, and its video platform YouTube.
“Social media firms have banned gun videos and rejected pro-life advertisements,” the statement reads. “They have skewed search results and adjusted trending topics in ways that have harmed the right. Firms have restricted and deleted videos, even academic content. Conservative tech employees have found their speech limited and their careers harmed. And top tech companies have given preferential treatment to anointed legacy media outlets that also lean left. These same tech titans then work with groups openly hostile to conservatives to restrict speech.”
The statement lays out four areas it believes social media companies must address to begin to rectify their credibility problem.
First, it asks the companies to provide transparency to illustrate if left-leaning posts receive the same scrutiny as those posts by conservatives.
“Social media companies operate in a black-box environment, only releasing anecdotes about reports on content and users when they think it necessary,” the statement reads. “This needs to change. The companies need to design open systems so that they can be held accountable, while giving weight to privacy concerns.”
Second, the statement asks for clarity on what each company defines as hate speech.
“No two firms define it the same way,” the statement reads. “Their definitions are vague and open to interpretation, and their interpretation often looks like an opportunity to silence thought. Today, hate speech means anything liberals don’t like. Silencing those you disagree with is dangerous. If companies can’t tell users clearly what it is, then they shouldn’t try to regulate it.”
Third, it wants social media firms to add conservatives to help balance their content advisory teams.
“Top social media firms, such as Google and YouTube, have chosen to work with dishonest groups that are actively opposed to the conservative movement, including the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the statement reads. “Those companies need to make equal room for conservative groups as advisers to offset this bias. That same attitude should be applied to employment diversity efforts. Tech companies need to embrace viewpoint diversity.”
Finally, it wants social media companies to respect their users’ right to free speech.
“Tech giants should afford their users nothing less than the free speech and free exercise of religion embodied in the First Amendment as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court,” the statement reads. “That standard, the result of centuries of American jurisprudence, would enable the rightful blocking of content that threatens violence or spews obscenity, without trampling on free speech liberties that have long made the United States a beacon for freedom.”
The statement says addressing these issues is critical if social media firms “wish to have any credibility with the conservative movement and its tens of millions of supporters.”
“If the social media firms engage the conservative movement with the spirit of cooperation, we will do our best to assist them,” the statement concludes.
Among those who signed the statement are Media Research Center founder and President Brent Bozell, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Texas Congressman Lamar Smith, former Attorney General Edwin Meese, Project Veritas CEO James O’Keefe, and retired Army Lt. Col. Allen B. West, who is also director of the MRC Censorship Project for the Media Research Center.
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