Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony this week threw a spotlight on the politically correct social media behemoth’s practice of suppressing and marginalizing ideas it doesn’t like.
The testimony came less than two months after a Facebook algorithm change crushed engagement rates on conservative groups’ pages. The change already killed off the Facebook-driven websites Rare.us and LittleThings and is strangling other sites.
A Western Journal study found the change gave 25 left-leaning media organizations a 1.86 percent bump in Facebook traffic, while 25 right-leaning media outfits averaged a 13.71 percent drop.
These figures matter because record numbers of Americans now get news from Facebook.
“Nearly half of all U.S. adults (45%) get news from Facebook,” according to a Pew Research Center survey. “The share of U.S. adults who get news through Facebook is much higher than the share who get news through YouTube (18%), Twitter (11%), Instagram (7%), Snapchat (5%), LinkedIn (5%) and other platforms.”
The algorithm modification itself came after a year of intense national scrutiny and internal pressure to hit back at conservatives and Republicans and force Facebook to atone for supposedly “allowing” President Trump to win the 2016 election. Since the change, engagement on the president’s Facebook posts has declined 45 percent even though engagement rates on the pages of left-wing politicians like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have remained steady.
But conservatives should have seen the crackdown on free expression coming.
“Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place,” Zuckerberg acknowledged Tuesday to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Cruz asked Zuckerberg about the “pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship” that Facebook and other tech companies engage in as a matter of corporate policy.
In May of 2016, Gizmodo reported that Facebook had purposefully and routinely suppressed conservative stories from trending news, including stories about CPAC, including stories about Mitt Romney, including stories about the Lois Lerner IRS scandal, including stories about Glenn Beck. In addition to that, Facebook has initially shut down the ‘Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day’ page, has blocked a post of a Fox News reporter, has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages, and most recently, blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk’s page with 1.2 million Facebook followers, after determining their content and brand were, ‘unsafe to the community.’
Zuckerberg replied, saying “we don’t have any bias in the work that we do,” but noted that a lack of political objectivity at the company “is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about.”
He said Facebook does not “generally ask people about their political orientation when they’re joining the company” and that he has not personally made any hiring or firing decisions based on politics or support for specific candidates.
He also admitted that he had never heard of ads or pages from Planned Parenthood, MoveOn.org, or any Democratic candidate for office being taken down.
Then again, Zuckerberg wasn’t testifying under oath so his answers may not be worth much. If he lied to the lawmakers he addressed—many of whom have taken campaign contributions from Facebook— he still can’t be prosecuted.
But the pressure generated by media coverage of Zuckerberg’s testimony has forced Facebook to commit to end its “shadow-banning”—covertly blocking or limiting the reach—of the popular page of Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, two sisters who go by the moniker Diamond and Silk and who fervently support President Trump.
Diamond and Silk said in a statement Wednesday that Facebook allows “appalling” things – “videos of people getting shot, killed, and beat up… they even show pictures of our President decapitated.”
Although all the women do is talk on camera, Facebook flagged their page as “unsafe to the community,” without elaborating. Grilled by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Zuckerberg said in that case “our team made an enforcement error and we have already gotten in touch with them to reverse it.”
Despite this encouraging reversal, Facebook, whose market capitalization is closing in on $500 billion, continues to enable Muslim terrorists. Facebook has been named in a handful of lawsuits by survivors of recent terrorist attacks, for providing material support to groups such as Islamic State by failing to take down the pages of terrorist organizations
Closer to home, the Facebook page of a University of Texas Antifa group, the Revolutionary Student Front – Austin, urges “revolutionary violence” against assistant sociology professor Robert L. Reece based largely on his failure to report “a male student who, through [Reece’s] course, realized he had not been obtaining consent in all of his sexual encounters.”
Other Antifa groups urge violent upheaval on Facebook. The page of Los Angeles Red Guards encourages “revolutionary martyrdom.” Facebook allows the downloading of a poster made by Antifa website It’s Going Down. The poster is captioned “Make The Guillotine Red Again” and shows President Trump under the device’s blade.
Will Facebook suddenly become ideologically-neutral after Congress put Zuckerberg in the hot seat?
Don’t count on it.
Matthew Vadum is senior vice president at Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C.
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Second Christian Pastor Charged for Holding Church Services During Coronavirus Lockdown
Christian gatherings are being criminalized.
Another Christian pastor is being charged with crimes for holding church services during the coronavirus lockdown.
Mark Anthony Spell, a Central, La. pastor, is receiving six misdemeanor charges for disobeying Gov. John Bel Edwards’ emergency shutdown edicts after he held church services this past weekend.
“Over the last two weeks I have worked with the sheriff, state police, the state fire marshal, Reverend Tony Perkins, and others to address this matter outside of legal action. Mr. Spell made his intentions to continue to violate the law clear. Instead of showing the strength and resilience of our community during this difficult time, Mr. Spell has chosen to embarrass us for his own self-promotion,” said Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran, who issued the misdemeanor summons to Spell.
“Mr. Spell will have his day in court where he will be held responsible for his reckless and irresponsible decisions that endangered the health of his congregation and our community. This is not an issue over religious liberty, and it’s not about politics. We are facing a public health crisis and expect our community’s leaders to set a positive example and follow the law,” he added.
Spell has allegedly convened six unlawful church services at his Life Tabernacle Church hosting more individuals at his worship proceedings than what is allowed by the state. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said Spell is receiving a misdemeanor count for every time he allegedly violated the edict. They will not charge everyone who gathered unlawfully at the church but will attempt to make an example of Spell because “encouraged others to violate” the law.
“Without his actions, the others would not come,” Moore said. “Practically, it would be very difficult to charge that number of people even if we were not in the crisis we are in.”
Spell sees his case as being paramount for nationwide fight on behalf of religious liberty against tyrannical government.
“This is a scary time for our nation. Our religious freedoms are under persecution and attack,” Spell said. “This is an attack on all Christians across the world.”
“If this is not about religion, then are the Waltons not being issued summons and arrested for keeping Walmart open?” Spell asked. “Nobody will tell us as God fearing Christians and Americans that we are non-essential in our society.”
He vows to continue holding church services publicly in Louisiana no matter what the consequences from the state turn out to be.
“When you close every door in this city, we’ll close this door and we’ll go underground, but we are going to assemble and congregate as God fearing Christians,” Spell said. “If they are to arrest me and take me out of this congregation, my assistant pastor will step in immediately, when he is arrested, the third man will step in.”
Big League Politics reported yesterday on the other pastor who has been charged with holding illegal church services under new coronavirus edicts:
A Pro-Trump pastor has been arrested for hosting churches services in Florida. This appears to be the first case of this kind under the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office obtained an arrest warrant for Rev. Rodney Howard-Browne the pastor of The River Church, a mega church in Tampa, Florida for hosting two worship services at his church this past Sunday.
State Attorney Andrew Warren remarked, “I think it’s unfortunate that the pastor here is hiding behind the First Amendment. One, it’s absolutely clear that emergency orders like this are constitutional and valid. Second of all, leaders from our faith-based community across this country have embraced the importance of social distancing.”
“Because of the reckless disregard of public safety and after repeated requests and warnings, I worked with our state attorney, Andrew Warren, to obtain a warrant for unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency rules, both of which are second degree misdemeanors,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “Our goal here is not to stop anyone from worshiping, but the safety and well-being of our community must always come first.”
Freedom of religion could soon be a lost vestige of the past because of the mass hysteria that has resulted from the coronavirus pandemic.
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