Bokhari: The Real ‘Voter Suppression’ in 2018 Came from Big Tech

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After virtually every election, Democrats go-to explanation for why they didn’t win X state or Y district is “voter suppression.” The midterms were no different — but the complaint was particularly egregious, given that it occurred on the back of outright election meddling from Silicon Valley.

“Voter suppression may have made the difference for Republicans in Georgia,” argued far-left Vox. “The GOP loves voter suppression,” concurred Slate. “Midterms 2018: when voting goes wrong” was the headline at the BBC.

Most of the claims revolved around faulty ballot machines, ID requirements (how dare we ask voters to prove that they’re citizens! racism! white supremacy!), longer-than-expected queues at polling stations, and bureaucratic screw-ups like failure to secure enough power cables for electronic voting booths.

None of the faux-outraged writers documented actual evidence of deliberate voter suppression. The left-wing BBC even conceded that “research has previously shown that alleged vote suppression in the form of ID laws does not seriously affect election outcomes.”

Ignored in all the coverage was the pre-election attack on the Republican party and the populist movement’s ability to communicate with its base online, conducted in plain sight by the masters of the universe in Silicon Valley.

Just a few weeks before the vote, big tech stopped multiple Republican politicians from reaching their digital grassroots and energizing their voters. An ad by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony list on behalf of Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee was blocked by Facebook. Blackburn’s own campaign ad, which featured far-left protests, was refused by Google, a company whose own internal research admits to a “shift towards censorship” by tech platforms.

A day before the election, Facebook also blocked a pro-Republican ad from Donald Trump highlighting the illegal migrant caravan making its way through Central America to the U.S. border. Facebook chose to stand with the legacy media, including CNN, Fox, and NBC, in stopping the ad from reaching its intended audience.

Beyond the blocks of Republican ads, there were mass-bannings. On the weekend before the election, Twitter brazenly banned over 10,000 accounts at the instruction of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

It wasn’t the first year big tech engaged in election meddling. In 2016, Google made a special effort to turn out Latino voters, even supporting groups that bussed Latino voters to the polls. This was purportedly a “non-partisan” attempt to drive turnout. But leaked emails revealed dismay within the company that Latinos had voted for Trump in record numbers.

But when it came to outright suppression of conservative voices and the conservative grassroots, 2016 had nothing on 2018. This was a year in which top conservative and alternative media influencers were purged from the platform, including Roger Stone, Tommy Robinson, R.C. Maxwell, and Gavin McInnes. In the months leading to the election, Twitter also issued conservatives James Woods and Laura Loomer with temporary suspensions (Loomer has since been banned from Twitter permanently for criticizing a Democratic congresswoman). Together, the banned and suspended influencers were able to reach and influence millions of Twitter users — and in a crucial election year, Twitter took that powerful ability to mobilize the grassroots away from them.

Facebook behaved even worse, banning over 800 pages and accounts without warning in the run-up to the elections, mostly alternative media pages of the anti-establishment left and the anti-establishment right. Page owners — including Iraq war veteran and triple amputee Brian Kolfage, who invested some $300,000 in his Facebook businesses — allegedly received no warning of the upcoming ban, and no compensation for their lost investment. In true Orwellian fashion, Facebook framed their crackdown as an effort to “protect” elections from “misinformation” and “inauthentic behavior.”

Beyond the deliberate attempts to interfere in elections (or “protect” them — same thing!), conservative influencers also have to contend with the casual left-wing bias that occurs on these platforms every day.  Whether voting day is around the corner or not, the left-wing bias of big tech companies will reap its victims — as in the case of the YouTuber who nearly lost his account after posting a video of his video game character killing a suffragette character in the game Red Dead Redemption 2. 

The double standards are obvious. Influential activists like Tommy Robinson get banned from big tech platforms for posting facts, while far-left radicals get to dox their ideological opponents, encourage violence, and cheer for “Antifa” domestic terrorists with far less interference. The result is a two-tiered system, where the left can mobilize its supporters for any purpose, while the right’s ability to do so is constantly curtailed.

That’s to say nothing of the energy spent by conservatives and the right-wing media to expose censorship and bias on the part of Silicon Valley. That energy could be spent exposing Democrat wrongdoing and mobilizing voters. Conservatives and populists are forced to spend so much time defending themselves against censorship that they are forced to neglect other issues.

Democrats will cry “voter suppression” when they see a few faulty voting machines. But they’ll also call Silicon Valley censorship a “conspiracy theory,” even when big tech companies openly admit to censorship. The question Republicans should be asking: in a race as tight as the recent midterms, how many votes did Silicon Valley cost their party? And what can be done to stop it happening again?

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on TwitterGab.ai and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to allumbokhari@protonmail.com.

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