A study from New York University released on Monday that dismisses conservative allegations of Big Tech bias was funded by Craig Newmark, a billionaire tech titan who donated $100,000 to President Joe Biden’s campaign.
The study, entitled “False Accusation: The Unfounded Claim that Social Media Companies Censor Conservatives,” also defends decisions by Facebook and Twitter to ban former President Trump from their platforms last month and to limit circulation of a story from the New York Post weeks before the election about Hunter Biden’s business dealings.
The report says that Facebook and Twitter made “reasonable decisions” in both instances.
It also states that the Post’s story about Hunter Biden was based on “stolen material,” a claim that Biden himself has not made.
The study, which was first touted in a story in The Washington Post, also accuses conservatives of pushing “political disinformation” through their accusations that tech companies harbor anti-conservative bias.
“The false bias narrative is an example of political disinformation, meaning an untrue assertion that is spread to deceive. In this instance, the deception whips up part of the conservative base, much of which already bitterly distrusts the mainstream media,” reads the study, authored by Paul M. Barrett and J. Grant Sims of the NYU Stern School of Business.
Conservatives’ allegations of bias are based on “distortions and falsehoods,” Barrett and Sims wrote.
The researchers asserted that conservatives’ claims of bias warrants the creation of a Digital Regulatory Agency, which would oversee social media companies.
“The false claim of anti-conservative bias has contributed to widespread distrust in the platforms’ willingness and ability to govern their sites,” the researchers said.
Conservatives, led by Trump and a handful of Republican lawmakers, have accused companies like Twitter and Facebook of censoring prominent Republicans on their social media platforms, either by banning conservatives outright or curtailing their ability to post on their sites.
Google has faced similar allegations that it has tailored its algorithm to bury links to conservative news organizations.
The NYU researchers dismissed those complaints by citing substantial web traffic for conservative news organizations on sites like Facebook.
But the data cited in the study may not tell the full story of which websites are boosted by Facebook.
A Facebook executive told Business Insider in July that while conservative sites perform well in terms of engagement, liberal news organizations like BuzzFeed, MSNBC and ABC News outperform in terms of “reach,” a measure of how many people see content in their news feeds.
The NYU researchers relied on input from employees of Google, Twitter and Facebook, according to the acknowledgement section of the report. No conservative groups appear to have been consulted for the study.
The authors noted Newmark’s financial support for the project, but did not describe his political leanings.
Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, gave $100,000 to the Biden Victory Fund, a political committee affiliated with the Biden campaign, and $35,500 to the DNC in June 2020, according to Federal Election Commission records.
He has donated tens of thousands of dollars to President Obama’s campaign, the Hillary Clinton campaign and to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
He told Forbes magazine last year that he planned to donate up to $200 million to fight online disinformation, fund journalism outfits and help defeat Trump.
Barrett, the lead researcher on the study, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that he did not believe it was necessary to disclose Newmark’s political contributions.
“It was enough to disclose that Craig Newmark provides the Center with financial support,” Barrett said in an email.
He said that in order to obtain a conservative view of the censorship debate he watched congressional events, read congressional transcripts, consulted White House documents and reviewed President Trump’s public statements criticizing tech companies.
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A version of this article appeared on the Daily Caller News Foundation website.
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