Social Media’s Election Interference

A college senior raised in a conservative household now posting Black Lives Matter propaganda on her Instagram account. A son-in-law berating his wife’s self-made millionaire family about racism and Donald Trump. A twentysomething graduate of one of the country’s top universities informing his attentive, loving parents that he’s ashamed of how he was raised in a mostly white suburb. Parents bullied by their children into posting Black Lives Matters memes and George Floyd condolences on social media. A biracial couple on the verge of a break-up over disagreements on race, protests, and riots.

Those are just a few of the stories I’ve heard recently from friends and relatives dealing with the consequences of the country’s ongoing racial strife. Dissent, or even mild disagreement, are not allowed. The Left is tearing the country apart on both the macro and the micro level as families and friendships are shredded over accusations of “systemic racism.”

Now, admittedly, children condemning their parents for how they were raised is nothing new. Generational revolt is a rite of passage in America. But friends once debated politics without ending up in fisticuffs. And while presidential election years always are fraught with tension and terse discourse, the Trump era has been a nonstop temper tantrum from the Left.

The unique danger underpinning the current calamity, obviously, is the added fuel in the form of social media. Teens and young adults don’t read papers or watch network news; according to a 2018 poll, more than one-third of adults ages 18 to 39 list social media as their primary source for news. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook rule the news cycle. And information is rarely posted without comment—consumers are told how to interpret the article or video before they have a chance to view it independently. Groupthink takes over; mobs are incited, cities burn, minds are poisoned, detractors are silenced, and the country unravels bit by bit.

The purpose of the latest uprising is the same purpose that has been animating the Left in this country for nearly four years: to oust Donald Trump from the White House. Before the twin blows of coronavirus and racial strife, Trump looked like a sure bet for reelection. After a failed Russian collusion hoax, a failed special counsel probe, and a failed impeachment attempt, Trump was well-positioned to defeat a feeble-minded, baggage-laden Joe Biden. Democrats effectively have leveraged both crises for maximum political gain while hiding Biden in his basement.

Social media moguls, hostile to Donald Trump and part of the ruling corporate Left, also are exploiting the unrest as an excuse to censor the president—and they’re not even trying to hide it. The same platforms that have promoted lies about everything from Trump-Russia collusion to Catholic high schoolers disrespecting a “native elder” have developed a sudden interest in acting as the internet’s truth-sayers.

“The 2020 elections were already shaping up to be heated and that was before we all faced the additional complexities of voting during a pandemic and protests for racial justice across the country,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote Friday in announcing his company’s new censorship policies. “During this moment, Facebook will take extra precautions to help everyone stay safe, stay informed, and ultimately use their voice where it matters most—voting.” 

As Liz Sheld detailed Monday, the company is folding to intense pressure from employees, corporations, and activist groups to silence Trump and his supporters just four months before Election Day.

Lifting language from an Ayn Rand novel, Zuckerberg disclosed he’s been advised by  “civil rights auditors” to develop portals that will offer “authoritative” information on voting rights. This will include any attempt to disparage mail-in ballots, a priority for Democrats as they prepare to steal various elections: “[S]haring authoritative information on voting by mail will be especially important,” he promised.

Facebook and other platforms also are thwarting the Trump campaign’s digital advertising game, a key part of his reelection strategy. Dozens of Trump campaign ads were removed from Facebook last month after activists insisted the posts included “pro-Nazi” symbols. Trump, who has a significant cash advantage over Biden, spent nearly $2 million in Facebook ads the last week of June alone; Zuckerberg’s censors will make sure paid ads meet a different standard: “We already restrict certain types of content in ads that we allow in regular posts, but we want to do more to prohibit the kind of divisive and inflammatory language that has been used to sow discord.” Rest assured that vague rule only will apply to Team Trump and Republicans.

Twitter, for its part, is suppressing the president’s tweets by attaching warning notices to posts the company arbitrarily deems are in violation of its new “fact-checking” policy, which is aimed directly at Trump and his supporters. (Tens of thousands of tweeters on the Right activated accounts on Parler last week after Twitter banned Carpe Donktum, an account that produced pro-Trump videos and often retweeted by the president. Twitter also temporarily suspended the account of Sidney Powell, the lawyer for General Mike Flynn, before restoring her privileges on Monday.)

Social media’s strategy is clear: Incite domestic unrest, support the mobs, brainwash our youth, and ensure only one side dominates the news flow. Posts and advertisements that offer a dissenting view to the reigning leftist orthodoxy can be removed under the guise of promoting the common good and protecting the vulnerable while assigning automatic guilt to millions of Americans who refuse to conform.

It’s collective mind manipulation that leaves our children nearly powerless to resist it, all in an effort to assist Democrats. Shamefully, Republicans in Washington are not just missing in action, they continue to defend these monopolies. Any regulation, we are warned by useless Republican leaders, would flout the First Amendment or some Reagan-era fealty to deregulation. (Reagan, it’s worth remembering, supported the 1984 breakup of AT&T.)

The fact is that social media’s brazen actions are election interference, pure and simple. It is no less insidious—in fact, it’s more insidious—than meddling by a foreign adversary. Their activity is political, not commercial. Removing ads, banning accounts, flagging tweets, or regurgitating the Democratic Party line on the need for absentee voting should be considered in-kind campaign contributions to Joe Biden and the Democrats. Accordingly, per federal election law, social media companies should be required to report those contributions and place a monetary value on their efforts.

Senate Republicans won’t dare make such a move; Trump should sign an executive order laying out details of how monopolistic media organizations will be required to disclose their assistance to the Democrats in advance of the election. (Or, better yet, appoint a special counsel to look into domestic election meddling.)

The debate over Section 230 is the wrong fight for now; it’s time to confront these tech titans for their most egregious offense—attempting to defeat Donald Trump and Republicans in order to elect Joe Biden and Democrats. In some jurisdictions, it’s illegal to remove the yard sign of a political opponent. How can the federal government ignore an industry-wide operation to punish the sitting president of the United States without consequence? 

Facebook and Twitter, along with their corporate partners, want to run the table and they’re getting away with it. If Republicans won’t fight back, the president, as usual, must act on his own.

About Julie Kelly

Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. After college graduation, she served as a policy and communications consultant for several Republican candidates and elected officials in suburban Chicago. She also volunteered for her local GOP organization. After staying home for more than 10 years to raise her two daughters, Julie began teaching cooking classes out of her home. She then started writing about food policy, agriculture, and biotechnology, as well as climate change and other scientific issues. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1990 with a degree in communications and minor degrees in political science and journalism. Julie lives in suburban Chicago with her husband, two daughters, and (unfortunately) three dogs.

Photo: C.J. Burton/Getty Images

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