Ac­counts cen­sored, pages deleted on Red­dit, Face­book

Con­ser­va­tives cite Sil­i­con Val­ley bias

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON AND DOU­GLAS ERNST

Less than a month af­ter the Face­book sum­mit be­tween founder Mark Zucker­berg and lead­ing con­ser­va­tives, the tense re­la­tion­ship be­tween Sil­i­con Val­ley and con­ser­va­tives has taken a turn for the worse.

There was more up­roar on the right last week over moves by two top web­sites to sup­press in­for­ma­tion about the Or­lando mass shooter’s ties to the Is­lamic State, just days af­ter Google was ac­cused of burying neg­a­tive sto­ries about pre­sump­tive Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Even as com­pa­nies like Face­book and Google deny any in­sti­tu­tional po­lit­i­cal bias, con­ser­va­tives like Less Gov­ern­ment’s Se­ton Mot­ley say that Sil­i­con Val­ley’s lib­eral ti­tans ap­par­ently can’t help them­selves.

“These are left-wing guys,” said Mr. Mot­ley, a long­time Sil­i­con Val­ley critic. “There are very few non-left-wingers in Sil­i­con Val­ley. [PayPal co-founder] Peter Thiel is one of the few ex­cep­tions. You’ve got to be aware.”

Face­book found it­self back in the spot­light af­ter anti-ji­had ac­tivist Pamela Geller said that two of her pages were deleted in the af­ter­math of the hor­rific Or­lando mas­sacre, in which a pro-Is­lamic State gun­man slaugh­tered 49 peo­ple at a pop­u­lar gay night­club be­fore be­ing killed by a po­lice tac­ti­cal unit.

Ms. Geller posted a mes­sage from Face­book say­ing her page Stop Is­lamiza­tion of Amer­ica vi­o­lated the com­pany’s ban on “groups that are hate­ful, threat­en­ing or ob­scene.” She also said that a Face­book ac­count in her own name had been frozen for 30 days.

Both pages were op­er­at­ing again, a day af­ter Ms. Geller asked SIOA’s 57,000 fol­low­ers to “po­litely re­quest re­in­state­ment of our group.” Face­book did not im­me­di­ately re­turn a re­quest for com­ment.

“It is not hate­ful, ob­scene, or threat­en­ing to op­pose ji­had ter­ror such as we saw in Or­lando last night,” Ms. Geller told Bre­it­bart. “Truth is not hate­ful or ob­scene. What is hate­ful, ob­scene and threat­en­ing is that Face­book is mov­ing to si­lence ev­ery­one who speaks hon­estly about the mo­ti­vat­ing ide­ol­ogy be­hind such at­tacks.”

As for Mr. Zucker­berg’s as­sur­ances that Face­book is not bi­ased against con­ser­va­tives, “They’re ut­terly and ab­so­lutely hol­low,” she said.

Mean­while, the news ag­gre­ga­tor web­site Red­dit, which bills it­self as a bas­tion of free speech, was ac­cused of cen­sor­ship by users who said mod­er­a­tors blocked threads on the Or­lando mas­sacre.

“Now that I think about it, this might be the big­gest purg­ing I’ve ever seen on Red­dit,” one user wrote in the web­site’s r/news thread last Sun­day.

Red­dit ad­min­is­tra­tors even­tu­ally is­sued a state­ment as anger spread through­out the com­mu­nity.

“Red­dit gives mod­er­a­tors a great deal of free­dom to op­er­ate their sub­red­dits how they feel is ap­pro­pri­ate. In a rapidly emerg­ing and volatile sit­u­a­tion, a num­ber of things can hap­pen: some­times new mod­er­a­tors get blind­sided, small teams get over­whelmed, or tired and frus­trated mods make bad choices. I want you to know that the ad­mins are aware of the con­cerns that have been ex­pressed,” the state­ment read.

One mod­er­a­tor had re­sponded to crit­i­cism from users with “kill your­self.”

“Right now, I sim­ply ask ev­ery­one to be pa­tient and to give the ad­mins and the en­tire /r/news mod­er­a­tor team a chance to talk pri­vately and in­ves­ti­gate what hap­pened. Re­gard­less of your feelings on the de­ci­sions made, ev­ery­one in­volved is (to my knowl­edge) a hu­man. A lit­tle re­spect and com­pas­sion go a long way,” said the state­ment.

While con­ser­va­tives typ­i­cally lead the com­plaints about pro-lib­eral bias, that wasn’t the case with last week’s ex­plo­sive re­port al­leg­ing that Google had ma­nip­u­lated its search en­gine to bury neg­a­tive sto­ries about Mrs. Clin­ton.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion was con­ducted by SourceFed, a “top­i­cal com­edy chan­nel” not known as a bas­tion of right-wing thought. In a follow-up video, nar­ra­tor Matt Lieberman made ref­er­ence to “the sur­pris­ing num­ber of death threats, I mean at­ten­tion” spurred by the video.

“If you watch the guy in the video who’s nar­rat­ing it, if you watch his face, he al­most looks pained re­port­ing what he’s re­port­ing,” said Mr. Mot­ley.

“I think you have to have a law de­gree to parse Google’s words,” said Dan Sch­nei­der, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Amer­i­can Con­ser­va­tive Union, on Fox Busi­ness.

“The ques­tion is, ‘Is Google bi­ased?’ And that’s not the an­swer Google pro­vided — it’s that the sys­tem, the al­go­rithm, is not bi­ased,” Mr. Sch­nei­der said. “But we know that Google it­self is in the tank for [Pres­i­dent] Obama, has been in the tank for Obama and is now in the tank for Hil­lary Clin­ton, and there’s good rea­son for that. From their per­spec­tive, they want to pur­sue as lib­eral poli­cies as pos­si­ble across the spec­trum.”

Google’s ties to top Democrats are well known, start­ing with for­mer Google CEO Eric Sch­midt, an ac­tive Clin­ton backer who runs a Clin­ton cam­paign data-anal­y­sis con­tract­ing firm.

Mr. Zucker­berg in­vited con­ser­va­tive pun­dits and an­a­lysts to a meet­ing at Face­book head­quar­ters last month af­ter an ar­ti­cle in Giz­modo cited for­mer staffers say­ing that they buried sto­ries of in­ter­est to con­ser­va­tives on the “trend­ing top­ics” sec­tion.

“It doesn’t make sense for our mis­sion or our busi­ness to sup­press po­lit­i­cal con­tent,” Mr. Zucker­berg wrote on Face­book af­ter the meet­ing.

He added, “I know many con­ser­va­tives don’t trust that our plat­form sur­faces con­tent with­out a po­lit­i­cal bias.”

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