When Donald Trump’s Facebook ban was upheld this week, screams of bias could be heard from Republicans everywhere. These screams, ironically, came mainly on social media.
Republicans have spent the past few years criticizing Facebook and Twitter, demonizing them as biased against the right. But it is they, not the Democrats, who have been most excited about social media and those who have been most successful in harnessing their potential.
Between January 1 and December 15 of last year, right-wing Facebook pages accounted for 45% of all interactions on Facebook, according to a study by Media Matters for America, a progressive nonprofit that monitors American media. .
The right-hand pages generated nearly 9 billion likes or comments, according to the MMFA, compared to 5 billion interactions on the left-hand pages. Conservative Pages represent six of the top 10 most popular Facebook pages on U.S. political news.
The multi-year domination of Facebook has translated into notable successes – most memorable in 2016, when Donald Trump’s victory was propelled by his reach on social media. “Facebook and Twitter were the reason we got this victory,” said Brad Parscale, digital director of the 2016 Trump campaign, after the election.
“Twitter for Mr. Trump. And Facebook for fundraising. “
Those successes seem to have been forgotten last week, when prominent Republicans, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz and parliamentary minority leader Kevin McCarthy, condemned Facebook in particular. The platform angered the right wing with its decision to maintain Trump’s post-insurgency suspension, even though a long-term decision was thrown out onto the road.
“If the big tech oligarchs can muzzle the former president, what’s stopping them from silencing you?” Said Cruz.
“If they can ban President Trump, all the conservative voices could be as follows. A Republican majority in the House will limit the great technological power over our speech, ”McCarthy said.
Cruz and other Republicans have accused Facebook of bias for years – even as the platform propelled Trump to victory, while being criticized from the left for being slow to eliminate right-wing lies or conspiracy theories.
“Because Republicans have such a disproportionate influence on these platforms and their engagement, the real effect is that by constantly shouting prejudices, it makes the referees work in such a way that they don’t enforce the rules against them.” consistently, ”Angelo Carusone said the MMFA president.
“Or they’re less likely to take action against cheaters and bad actors because they don’t want to deal with the backfire of what happens when I delete one of these accounts.”
Carusone pointed out how Facebook dealt with groups promoting QAnon, a conspiracy movement that alleges a group of global elites are involved in pedophilia, human trafficking and the taking of a chemical believed to prolong the life of the blood of abused children. It wasn’t until October of last year that the network finally banned groups, pages or Instagram pages that “represent” QAnon, although the theory has been promulgated for years.
Joe Romm, author of How To Go Viral and Reach Millions and editor of Front Page Live, a news site “dedicated to promoting factual stories,” said Republicans say they are oppressed by the media narrative.
“It’s part of the overall strategy to play the victim,” Romm said. “Donald Trump has shown that this is part of the overall strategy of: accusing your opponents of doing what you do before you can accuse you.
“And so that makes it so much harder, because if you blame them first, then when progressives say precisely, ‘Oh, we’re at a disadvantage on social media,’ nobody’s going to believe that, because they’ve got it. bought into this big lie that the Conservatives are being punished on social media.
As Republicans screamed scandal, several right-wing politicians even wrote books about these perceived biases – the most recent by Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, a millionaire Yale law school graduate turned blue-collar landlord, man of the people.
Hawley wrote The Tyranny of Big Tech after claiming it was censored and canceled by social media. The hypocrisy of the book’s claim that big tech suppresses conservative thinking was exposed by Hawley himself this week, however, when he used Twitter, one of the companies he denounces, to proclaim dizzy that his book had been “a bestseller all week” on Amazon – another company he opposes.
Claims of conservative bias are only expected to continue until the mid-term of 2022 approaches, but experts say any bias is in fact against the other side.
“I would say that in fact big tech right now is biased against liberals – the thumbs up for those who publish the right-wing lies,” Romm said.
“What social media apps want to do is keep you on their site. This is what matters to them. They don’t care about the truth, they care about keeping you on their site.
“So the way things are organized, if you can stir up anger and get people to comment and engage and send actions and say, ‘This is outrageous,’ then you have a big advantage. in the algorithm. So what the social media sites have done is create a system that promotes the most outrageous claims. “
Ironically, some of these more outrageous statements are about to come against Republican Party leaders who speak out against social media giants.
“I think the right will use this moment to make big tech the new Hillary,” Carusone said. “And it’s going to be a galvanizing force for them by 2022, then again in 2024.”