Social Media Election Interference

Jim Hanson

1 year ago

August 06, 2020

Social media giants Twitter and Facebook fully entered the election season this week by committing some blatant election interference. But they only seem to be fact-checking and censoring Republicans and not Democrats. With all the emphasis on a small amount of foreign activity since the last election, we are failing to notice and act on the real danger of American companies putting their fingers on the scales.

Twitter suspended the official Trump campaign account and Facebook removed a video by the Trump campaign. Both claimed these acts were because the video mischaracterized information about COVID-19. The video in question was an interview given by the President of the United States to FOX News.

“In the removed video, President Trump can be heard in a phone interview saying schools should open. He goes on to say, “If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely — but almost immune from this disease,” and that they have stronger immune systems.”

This statement is certainly questionable and while the president accurately notes that children have stronger immune systems and experience milder symptoms he pushes the line.

“They get it and can transmit it, but they get it less and transmit it less than adults,” said Theodore Ruel, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Global Health at the University of California at San Francisco. He said the word “immunity” is incorrect in this context but that children, especially younger ones, are less of a risk than adults.”

But President Trump stopped short of saying children were actually immune so there is no direct falsehood in his statement, just an overemphasis toward immunity. But that was enough to trigger the Silicon Valley thought police.

The same scrutiny was not applied to a Democrat party video which contained a 100% verifiable falsehood of the 2+2=5 variety, That account put the following statement out on both Twitter and Facebook accompanied by video.

“WATCH: Trump adviser Jason Miller is asked three (3) times whether the Trump administration or campaign would accept foreign assistance in this election. Three (3) times, he refuses to say no.”

The problem is at :32 in the very video they provided, he clearly says “No, we’re going to beat Joe Biden fair and square”. That is not a maybe, that is a clear and definitive “No”. Yet that video remains up on both Twitter and Facebook despite numerous complaints to both platforms about it being an outright lie.

To make this situation even more Orwellian, the announcement of the Trump campaign censorship came from Twitter communications representative Nick Pacilio, who prior to that position was Press Secretary for Sen. Kamala Harris, a former Democrat Presidential candidate and a front-runner to be Joe Biden’s pick for his Vice Presidential candidate. Harris herself tried to get President Trump completely silenced on Twitter while campaigning last year.

“Senator Kamala Harris of California, who is running to be the Democratic presidential nominee, called on Twitter this month to suspend Mr. Trump’s account. In a letter to Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, Ms. Harris said the president’s tweets were “blatant threats” that clearly violated Twitter’s policies.”

Suppressing communications from President Trump while not holding Democrats to the same standard could fairly be termed an in-kind contribution by both platforms to the Biden campaign. Twitter and Facebook are welcome to register as political action committees if they want to do electioneering in favor of their chosen candidate. But they have not and this is a dangerous precedent to allow. The public must have access to the information needed to make informed choices, not a redacted version favoring one side.

This comes after a fairly disastrous hearing for the major tech companies in front of the Anti-Trust Subcommittee in the House last week. They hold monopoly power over our shared public information space and they seem to be shameless in abusing that control.

“Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, was very direct in his criticism of the tech CEOs at the hearing. “I’ll just cut to the chase, Big Tech’s out to get conservatives,” Jordan said.”

Both parties held the tech firms feet to the fire and told them in no uncertain terms they could not continue to manipulate both online information and commerce without consequences. They do not seem to have gotten the message. This is an intolerable situation any time. But when the public is trying to evaluate candidates for the highest office in the land, we cannot allow them to act as political partisans.


About the Author

Jim Hanson

Jim served in US Army Special Forces and conducted Counter-Terrorism, Counter-Insurgency as well as Diplomatic, Intelligence and Humanitarian operations in more than a dozen countries. He is the author of Cut Down the Black Flag – A Plan to Defeat the Islamic State, and has appeared on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, BBC, Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, C-Span, and numerous national radio shows.