In the wake of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Big Tech has crossed a Rubicon. Facebook and Twitter booted President Donald Trump. Apple, Google, and Amazon eviscerated Parler, the conservative alternative to Twitter. Yet it seems the Left will demand Big Tech crack down on conservative speech even further.
On Monday morning, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough blamed Facebook and Twitter for the Capitol riot, saying, “It’s on them,” for setting up business models that fostered “radicalism” and “conspiracy theories” that led to the riot.
“Those riots would not have happened but for Twitter, but for Facebook,” Scarborough declared. He cited a New York Times story about algorithms, claiming that “people were tweeting about health, and tweeting about mindfulness, and tweeting about — I don’t know — flowers and music, and then they stumbled onto some of these conspiracy theories and because Facebook’s algorithms were set up to cause this sort of radicalism to explode, guess what happened? Their likes exploded, the people following them exploded.”
“So you actually had Facebook and Twitter set up their business models in a way that would lead to the insurrection against the United States of America. It is on them, predominantly,” Scarborough claimed.
.@JoeNBC: "Those riots would not have happened but for Twitter, but for Facebook … Facebook’s algorithms were set up to cause this sort of radicalism to explode … Facebook and Twitter set up their business models in a way that would lead to the insurrection." pic.twitter.com/n7YjMDL39s
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 18, 2021
Facebook and Twitter did not set up algorithms to promote “conspiracy theories.” In reality, people shared disturbing stories with allegations of voter fraud and other irregularities because they are salacious. Many Americans who voted for Donald Trump and watched the president lead in the vote counts on election night were surprised to see Joe Biden overtake him in late-night ballot counts. Many suspected fraud and these stories fueled those suspicions.
Rather than investigating and carefully debunking the claims, many officials and legacy media outlets merely declared that either there was no election fraud or there wasn’t enough election fraud to alter the outcome. Tragically, this certainty only fueled suspicions that the legacy media was burying the truth, which led conservatives to search for alternate news sources.
President Trump made the situation worse by claiming that he won the election “in a landslide.” Conservatives who have rightly questioned the legacy media’s far-left bias and who have trusted Trump instead thought the president knew something they did not. Unfortunately, Trump’s legal team failed to present key evidence of widespread fraud in court, and he lost his court challenges.
Facebook and Twitter did not amplify claims of voter fraud. In fact, Twitter flagged Trump’s warnings about mail-in voting starting back in May. Mail-in voting is less secure than in-person voting, but the legacy media and Twitter pushed the narrative that mail-in voting does not enable fraud. After the election, Twitter continued to crack down on the president’s tweets.
The stories of voter fraud and election irregularities spread on Facebook and Twitter because people wanted to see them and they wanted to share them.
So why did Scarborough blame Facebook and Twitter? In the wake of the Capitol riot, Democrats and Big Tech have kicked censorship and cancel culture into high gear. Twitter and Facebook kicked Trump off their platforms and Democrats impeached Trump a second time — for “incitement of insurrection.” Democrats are calling for the Senate to expel Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). Big Tech eviscerated conservative Twitter alternative Parler, and the Left is demanding more and more.
Shortly after the 2020 election, none other than former President Barack Obama called for more Big Tech “fact-checking” because even though Trump had lost the election, more than 71 million voters had supported Trump.
Far-left outfits like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have long branded mainstream conservative ideas dangerous — the SPLC defames mainstream conservative and Christian groups by branding them “hate groups” and placing them on a list with the Ku Klux Klan — and many are seizing on the Capitol riot as proof that conservatives must be silenced.
Expect more censorship and demonizing of conservative ideas as Democrats take over the Capitol and the White House.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.