For months, conservatives have sounded the alarm about possible censorship, bias, and “shadow bans” taking place on social media.
The Western Journal helped blow the whistle on this trend and was one of the first outlets to show using hard data that social media giants may have a liberal slant, while conservative voices are often silenced.
Now, another disturbing incident has occurred that raises serious questions about the even-handedness of major social media outlets.
On Friday, Donald Trump Jr. shared a video of something bizarre: An ominous warning to users about “harm and death” that appears when they search for his name on Instagram.
“After noticing a massive loss of followers in the past few weeks, President Trump’s oldest son claimed to have discovered a warning message issued to Instagram users and expressed his outrage in a post to the platform Friday night,” explained The Washington Examiner.
Honestly it’s time for me to put this out there. For weeks I’ve been watching my #instagram analytics and noticed a crazy drop off in new followers. I used to average around 10,000 + new followers a week and then it just dropped off. See screenshot from last week where despite over 7,000,000 impressions THAT WEEK I added 0 new followers. Also see video and pic where a friend searching MY NAME got a message warning that “Posts with words or tags you’re searching for often encourage behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death”… REALLY?!?! Are you fricken kidding me? @zuck this is insane. I get that my 3 year old Chloe can be pretty aggressive as are a few of my humorous memes, but this is ridiculous. If this account “could cause harm and even lead to death” we have serious problems. The #shadowban nonsense and the hysteria RE any conservative thought has to stop. #enough #mastersoftheuniverse #censorship
“REALLY?!?! Are you fricken kidding me? @zuck this is insane,” Trump Jr., wrote, tagging Mark Zuckerberg in the post. Instagram is owned by Facebook.
“I get that my 3 year old Chloe can be pretty aggressive as are a few of my humorous memes, but this is ridiculous. If this account ‘could cause harm and even lead to death’ we have serious problems,” he continued, pointing out that his Instagram is family-friendly.
The video shared by the president’s son appears to show a warning message when somebody searches for “donaldtrumpjr” and then clicks on one of the popular “hashtags” of his name.
“Posts with words or tags you’re searching for often encourage behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death. If you’re going through something difficult, we’d like to help,” the Instagram message says.
The implication, clearly, is that Donald Trump Jr.’s account contains violent or suicidal-inducing messages, and Instagram is “helpfully” trying to steer people away from the “horrors” of updates about the president’s grandchildren.
It should be noted that the Examiner was unable to reproduce the warning when they performed the same search depicted in the video. The Western Journal was not able to make the warning appear, either.
It’s possible that a glitch or malicious setting was corrected by Instagram soon after it was reported. It is also possible that the video was cleverly edited and sent to Trump Jr., but is not accurate. Anything on social media should be taken with a grain of salt, per usual.
However, we can’t help but notice that these incidents always seem to be happening to conservatives.
It is conservative sites that seem to have taken a hit by Facebook’s algorithm changes, not liberals. It is right-leaning voices who seem to be outright banned on Twitter, or reportedly “shadow banned” with viewers unable to see their updates.
Diamond and Silk, the conservative black duo, were flagged as “dangerous” by Facebook. It seemed to take a congressional hearing for the social media company to finally reverse this.
Similar incidents have happened on YouTube, where educational and family-friendly content such as Prager University videos are demonetized or marked inappropriate for wide audiences.
There is a growing stack of evidence that left-leaning social media brands are slanted against conservatives, and Donald Trump Jr. is just the latest in a long list of examples.
Executives like Zuckerberg have insisted that they’re trying to do better, and that balanced platforms are their goal.
We’d like to believe them. When incidents like these continue to happen, however, a pattern begins to emerge, and half of the country that leans conservative has a right to ask questions about the trend.
Free speech matters, and people who are right, left or centrist deserve to have their voices heard.
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