A recent Twitter scandal shook the social media universe last week, and no, it has nothing to do with Kanye West. The New York Post, a widely read and award-winning publication, got censored by social media conglomerates Facebook and Twitter for a story they ran about Hunter Biden.
I’ll be the first to admit that the Hunter Biden story seems a little sketchy. However, I do believe there is a clear bias when it comes to social media and their censorship of what is allowed to be posted on their platforms. Furthermore, I believe that bias disproportionately affects conservatives.
The most recent example of this can be seen by comparing the New York Times’s “bombshell” article about Trump’s tax returns to the NY Post Biden story. In an editor’s note, New York Times editor Dean Baquet wrote that “We are not making the records themselves public because we do not want to jeopardize our sources, who have taken enormous personal risks to help inform the public.” As a journalist, I full-heartedly agree with and understand this sentiment.
One of the claims Twitter made about why it censored the story was that it shared information that was supposedly hacked. Since the breaking of that story, the social media company has changed their policy. Now, Twitter “will only remove such content if it's shared directly by hackers to the website, not if it is included in a report published by a news publication.” This makes me wonder, where was this attitude when the New York Times story got published? How the publication obtained the information was never explicitly made clear. So why didn’t Facebook have independent fact checkers look into it the same way they did with the NY Post? Or how about when the Guardian published a story claiming that Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange? A special counsel report found that a meeting of no sort ever occurred. Twitter and Facebook were nowhere to be found in their challenging or censorship of that story. This is just one example of their bias, and the list goes on and on.
If you ever want to find someone’s true intentions, follow the money. It was found that in this election cycle alone, Facebook and Twitter employees have donated $2.7 million to Democrats. Only $220,000 went to Republicans. I wonder what the typical Facebook and Twitter employees affiliated party is? Hard to tell.
Because it is seen as unprofessional, most journalists cannot donate to political campaigns. While Twitter and Facebook employees are not journalists, they are a part of the two biggest social media platforms in the world. Being a part of an organization that has that many users should come with a certain amount of responsibility. At the very least, employees of these companies should be perceived as trying to be unbiased. Donating in massive amounts to a political party is not the way to do that. After all, it has led me to believe that these companies are indeed biased against conservatives and Republicans because of all the money their employees donated to Democrats. I highly doubt this is how they’d like to be perceived, but as I previously stated, if you ever want to know someone’s true intentions, follow the money.
Then there’s the argument that big tech is censoring our right to freedom of speech. Unfortunately, that is a topic that deserves a column of it’s own — so stay tuned.
In the meantime, I will say that I believe big tech and its biased censorship will be one of the most important issues we face in the coming decades. There must be a bi-partisan effort through congressional oversight to hold these companies accountable for their actions.
Now I’ll just hope Facebook and Twitter decide not to take down this column.
Sam Somogye is a political science senior and columnist for The Battalion. His column is typically published online every other Monday when not in the Thursday newspaper.