The leaders of the GOP, who spent years paying mere lip service to their voters’ concerns about Big Tech censorship, are about to discover the consequences of that inaction — the hard way.
2020 is the most disputed election in living memory. After dragging its feet, the Republican party is coming round to efforts to investigate the results, with a batch of Republican state attorneys general backing Ken Paxton’s lawsuit challenging election procedures in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
But you won’t be allowed to talk about it on YouTube.
Despite escalating legal challenges to the election result, the Google-owned platform announced that it will remove videos questioning Biden’s victory, while promoting “authoritative” sources like CBS and NBC to its users.
“we will start removing any piece of content uploaded today (or anytime after) that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election,” said YouTube in a statement.
“Any piece of content” sounds impossibly broad. Will YouTube remove livestreamed press conferences about voter fraud, of which there are many? Will conservative news organizations be held responsible for claims made by others, that they report?
If Texas AG Ken Paxton (who, by the way, is currently suing Google for anticompetitive practices) makes claims about voter fraud, will YouTube channels be prevented from uploading his remarks?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” it sounds like a monumental abuse of corporate power. But these tech companies already censor the President on a near-daily basis.
YouTuber and podcaster Tim Pool says the company clarified to him that you can still claim Trump won the election, and that the election was stolen from Trump, but that you can’t claim that widespread fraud and error led to Trump’s loss.
In other words, if you make a meaningful, effective argument that might persuade people — the same case being made by lawyers and AGs up and down the country — then YouTube will censor you.
Youtube has clarified to me
You can still say Trump *actually* won the election
You can still claim that the election was stolen from Trump
You must meet 2 conditions for a video to be removed
You must claim *widespread fraud or error*
Say It made Trump lose
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) December 9, 2020
The truth is, they are quite comfortable abusing their power, because no-one had stopped them from doing so.
YouTube claims its new rule is “in line with our approach towards historical U.S. Presidential elections.”
Yet many of the “authoritative sources” touted by YouTube, including NBC News, spent four years spreading the baseless conspiracy theory that the 2016 election was invalid due to “Russian interference.”
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow even claimed that Vladimir Putin was blackmailing President Trump. Even the left-wing Guardian denounced her antics as “conspiracy-mongering.”
If you’re anti-Trump, the tech platforms will let you do it — just look at this tweet claiming that Steve Harvey’s giant Atlanta mansion belongs to GOP senate candidate Kelly Loeffler.
If a similar claim was spread about a Democrat, Twitter would remove it as “election misinformation.” But it’s about a Republican — so it’s been allowed to accumulate over 26,000 retweets.
But we know this. Breitbart News has been covering the double standards for four years. We’ve leaked Google’s 2016 post-election plotting session, their “Good Censor” document, Facebook’s “hate agents” list and YouTube’s political search blacklists. There’s a mountain of smoking guns.
And yet, nothing has been done.
Despite endless hearings in Congress and the Senate, Republican politicians have done nothing to reform the rules governing tech companies.
President Trump recently gave them an opportunity to do so, with his threat to veto a defense bill unless it included reforms to Section 230, the law that allows tech companies to censor while suffering no legal consequences.
Republicans in Congress responded by joining with Democrats to give the bill a veto-proof majority.
Senate Republicans have done slightly better. After much foot-dragging they finally confirmed the president’s FCC nominee, Nathan Simington, in a 49-46 vote yesterday.
But with chairman Ajit Pai following convention and stepping down in January, there’s little chance of FCC action. Had the Senate GOP acted with the same level of urgency that they display for judicial appointments, it might have been different.
Republicans are going to quickly learn the consequences of their inaction. The Big Tech companies already meddled in the 2020 election. They are going to meddle in Georgia as well, resulting in the likely loss of the Republicans’ Senate majority.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. His new book, #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election, which contains exclusive interviews with sources inside Google, Facebook, and other tech companies, is currently available for purchase.