Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, claimed during Breitbart News’ “Masters of the Universe” town hall tonight that the major tech companies have considerable powers of manipulation in elections.
Speaking at the Breitbart News’ “Masters of the Universe” town hall alongside Ann Coulter, investigative journalist and Breitbart Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer and Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow, Robert Epstein discussed the power that major tech companies have to manipulate their users and the effect that can have on politics. “The more information these companies have about us, the more easily they can manipulate us,” said Epstein.
“That is, shift our opinions, our thinking, our attitudes, our beliefs, our purchases — and our votes,” stated Epstein. “So, if it turns out, I did a piece for the Daily Caller, a piece I wrote with Ben Edelman of the Harvard Business School, we estimated that if these companies were all working together and supporting the same candidate and really pulling out all the stops and using all the methods they have to manipulate, they could shift ten percent of the voting population of America with no one knowing that they have done this and without leaving a paper trail for authorities to track.”
“But clearly,” said Alex Marlow sarcastically, “when they make changes to the algorithm that generates the results, they come clean about it the public knows about it, they explain what they’re doing, who’s going up, who’s going down, right?” Epstein pointed to Marlow and explained to the audience, “now this is sarcasm alright? I want to point this out.”
“Because, if Breitbart published a nice sarcastic, satire, satirical piece, brilliantly written, wouldn’t that look like a fake news story? On the surface, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it get automatically censored because the algorithms, and for that matter the people who are making these decisions, they would look at something that he just said,” point to Marlow, “as some that’s false, invalid, unreasonable, right? And it would get censored.”
“Now, this kind of power should not be in the hands of a handful of executives in Silicon Valley who are not accountable to us the general public, they’re accountable only to their shareholders.”
Christian satire website The Babylon Bee faced the exact issue that Epstein is discussing just last month when Facebook threatened to censor the site for spreading “fake news.” The supposed “fake news” was a satirical article which claimed that CNN had purchased an “industrial-size washing machine to spin news before publication.” Yet, partisan “fact-checking” service Snopes felt the need to publish a correction of the article that clarified that CNN had not “made a significant investment in heavy machinery.” After Snopes published the article Adam Ford, who runs the Babylon Bee, received a notification from Facebook which warned him that if he continued to publish “fake news” corrected by Snopes on Facebook, he could have his page demonetized and his page reach severely reduced.
Facebook has since apologized for threatening to demonetize the site saying “There’s a difference between false news and satire. This was a mistake and should not have been rated false in our system. It’s since been corrected and won’t count against the domain in any way.”