I read the testimonies of Google, Facebook, and Twitter executives before the Senate Commerce Committee on Combating the Spread of Extremist Propaganda (January 17, 2018), and I would advise you not to trust them very much. Under the pretext of fighting “extremist propaganda” (a vague term, probably selected to conceal partisan differences on what constitutes extremist propaganda) Google and Twitter suppress speech dissenting from leftist orthodoxy. For example, Google has demonetized some PragerU videos on a range of topics and is being sued by them. I have been banned from Google AdWords and Twitter Ads for speech opposing climate alarmism.
The suppression of conservative websites in Google organic search results has been documented many times. The limited available information allows to guesstimate that these activities are guided mostly by political powers within the European Union, which also channels influences from outside of it. Internal ideological bent and incestuous relationships between Google and the Democratic Party also play a role.
Since 2012, Google YouTube had a Trusted Flagger program “which is comprised of NGOs and [mostly or exclusively foreign] government agencies” (1). It sounds like Twitter Trust & Safety Council. These flaggers are clearly flawed, in that they performed biased flagging and are actively working to suppress non-leftist views. Out of more than one hundred NGOs participating in its program, the Google representative disclosed only three (2): Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Institute of Strategic Dialogue (UK), and the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization (UK). The motives behind such selective disclosure are unclear. My guess is that most other groups are not presentable at all.
Since appointing Obama’s administration member Jonathan Greenblatt as CEO, the ADL has become a blind advocate for the left on almost all issues, including even compulsory net neutrality. The Institute of Strategic Dialogue specializes in exaggerating the threat of far-right groups and trying to link them to president Trump (3). It treats ISIS with utmost respect. Its article (4) The Caliph is dead? Long live… who will be the Caliph? is an example (and an interesting reading on the subject). ICSR does study Islamist terrorist organizations in depth and close up. Possibly, too close. It should be noted that the UK and EU do not designate even Hezb’allah as a terrorist organization (5).
In response to prodding by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), the Twitter representative has practically endorsed the conspiracy theory of Russian collusion (6): “We have also undertaken a retrospective review to further the public’s understanding of what happened in the 2016 election. … we made the decision last year not only to offboard both RT and Sputnik as advertisers on our platform.” This statement also denies Twitter’s responsibility for what is going on on its platform and leads away from actual large scale interference in the 2016 U.S. elections through organic messages by foreign governments and political parties of many countries and political blocks, to favor of Hillary Clinton.
Allowing left coast tech companies to censor content is like letting a fox guard chicken. Delegating them such authority inside the U.S. is also un-Constitutional. On the other hand, these companies should not act as propaganda agents for foreign governments and political parties.
The internet enabled effortless cross-border propaganda and interference into elections and other internal affairs, and the countries with more freedom and wider internet adoption are most vulnerable. This problem is too big to even scratch its surface here. But Obamanet has totally disarmed American citizens in the face of foreign propaganda and has even forced us to subsidize it. The 2015 FCC order explicitly banned customer requested network side content filtering (family friendly internet access) that might be used to prevent impressionable youth from viewing jihadist videos. Nevertheless, the tech companies, leftstream media, and the Democratic Party rabidly oppose Obamanet repeal. They have a point. Obamanet has effectively elevated Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft to the status of a quasi-governmental censor, and has almost denied freedom of press for the conservative and even moderate liberal voices.
A few days ago, the broadcast media had another paranoid fit over the alleged Russian government’s interference in 2016 elections through social media. The broadcast media isn’t bothered by the fact that the suspicious ad buys totaled to less than $100k. It also insinuates that the alleged interference was in favor of Trump based on conclusions of an assessment by Obama holdovers in the FBI and CIA, although the facts in that assessment point in the opposite direction.
What surprises me is that republicans in Congress allow the investigation of foreign interference in the elections (a matter of high importance) to be limited to Russia. They should include other foreign political actors, especially those that have already made attempts on U.S. sovereignty – the United Nations bodies and transnational NGOs. The European Commission and certain political forces within and behind it should not avoid scrutiny either. I think that such an investigation would uncover interference in favor of Hillary Clinton to the tunes of billions of dollars. And whatever elections interference happened, it happened on Obama’s watch. The investigation should also uncover why and how the Obama administration has opened this country’s political processes to foreign meddling. I will refrain from commenting to avoid prejudice in such an investigation.