Dr. Robert Epstein, the senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology and a panelist on Breitbart News’ “Masters of the Universe” town hall on Internet freedom, joined SiriusXM hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak on Thursday’s Breitbart News Tonight to warn of technology firms’ growing political power.
Epstein pointed to Google’s dominance of the Internet search market.
“As it happens, 90 percent of search around the world is conducted on just one search engine,” noted Epstein. “There’s never been a precedent for anything like this, ever. You’ve got one company that’s controlling search around the world.”
Epstein added, “That’s a power to shift opinions that’s in the hands of a handful of people in one particular town in Northern California, affecting people around the world, with no way to counteract what they’re doing, with no competitors out there.”
Mansour requested Epstein’s commentary on social media companies’ suppression of conservative content.
Mansour said, “I have a sneaking suspicion that as we approach the midterms, they’re tightening the noose on conservative social media in ways that are not even quantitative. We won’t even know [for sure] if they’re doing it. We’ll just sort of suspect that they’re doing it. They just do these antics, these sorts of games that they play with us.”
Mansour recalled Facebook’s recent censorship of PragerU’s content. “I find it hard to believe it was completely accidental,” she said. “[Facebook knows] how effective we were in the 2016 election in spreading the message to Trump voters. … Maybe I’m being conspiratorial, but I think they’re just playing games with us as we’re getting closer to the election.”
Epstein concurred with Mansour’s speculation: “Is democracy dead? Because if it’s true that they have this power, then democracy really is an illusion. I happen to agree with you on a key point, I think that these companies held back to some extent in 2016. They held back on their power to shift votes. I don’t think they’re going to hold back now.”
Epstein shared broad strokes from his forthcoming article, tentatively titled, “Is Democracy Now Just An Illusion? A Researcher Describes Ten Ways Google, Facebook, and Other Tech Companies Can Shift Millions of Votes in the U.S. Midterm Election Without Anyone Knowing.”
He mentioned a result from a study he conducted: “I calculate that these companies will be able to shift upwards of 12 million votes in November with no one knowing that they’re doing so … and without leaving a paper trail for authorities to trace.”
Epstein went on, “If on election day of 2016, if Mark Zuckerberg had chosen to send out what we call a ‘targeted message,’ a message saying, ‘Go out and vote,’ that went only to supporters of Hillary Clinton, no one would have known that was being done. No one would have known that the message was going only to supporters of Hillary Clinton, and it would have given her an additional 450,000 votes.”
“I can tell you without any doubt … that the AI programs that they’re using to do screening are dumb as door nails, okay?” said Epstein. “These programs are really, really, really stupid. When you’re using stupid software to make very important decisions — like which news stories you’re going to suppress — you’re going to make mistakes from time to time.”
So this is interesting…@facebook took down my post of my reporting for the @nypost — I’ve received nine separate messages from readers telling me the same thing has happened to them. ‘sup @facebook ?https://t.co/dCwG9HQiJI
— SalenaZito (@SalenaZito) August 23, 2018
Update original post restored with no response to any of my questions. https://t.co/47bHRblWUb
— SalenaZito (@SalenaZito) August 23, 2018
Epstein continued, “Probably is the case that more of these errors are being made [with] conservative material. More conservative material is being suppressed than other material, but believe it or not, there are all kinds of suppression occurring.”
Epstein reiterated a question he previously asked about the growing power of the world’s largest technology companies over the dissemination of information.
Epstein asked about Silicon Valley’s increasing control over the parameters of permitted political discourse: “That leads to a big question … which is who on earth gave these companies — and it’s primarily, as we know, two or three companies: Google, Facebook, and Twitter — who on earth gave … the executives at these companies the power to decide what 2.5 billion people around the world get to see or don’t see?”
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