A study from New York University claiming that there is no anti-conservative bias from major technology companies was funded by a liberal, pro-Biden tech billionaire and drafted in consultation with employees from Google and Facebook.
The study was funded by Craig Newmark, the billionaire founder of the online marketplace Craigslist. The study acknowledges Newmark’s “continued guidance and financial support.”
Public disclosures show that Newmark donated $100,000 to President Biden’s campaign, has contributed thousands of dollars to various Democrat political candidates around the country, and has a recurring donation set up to ActBlue, a Democrat pressure group.
In the acknowledgements, the authors of the study also admit that they consulted a number of big tech employees, including Nick Pickles of Twitter, Neil Potts of Facebook, and Jess Hemerly of Google. The authors also note that a member of NewsGuard, a “news rating” project that advised digital advertisers to avoid some conservative media, was also consulted.
The authors also interviewed left-wing tech activist Justin Hendrix, who has praised the work of far-left organization Sleeping Giants, known for harassing the advertisers of conservative media with smears, aimed at destroying their profitability and the livelihoods of their employees. In 2018, Hendrix cited a report praising Sleeping Giants for targeting the advertisers of Breitbart News.
The author of the study did not respond to a query about whether he interviewed any digital publishers or content creators, or victims of demonetization and censorship on big tech platforms. The author also failed to confirm if transcripts of his conversations with big tech executives would be released.
The NYU study brushes aside prominent examples of Big Tech companies engaging in anti-conservative bias, saying the shutdown of the New York Post Hunter Biden story was justified because Biden’s emails were “stolen,” something that not even the Bidens themselves have alleged.
The paper does not acknowledge Google’s decision to purge Breitbart News from search results about Joe Biden, six months before the election.
Google’s own analytics data show that the tech giant’s actions reduced visibility on Breitbart News links by 99.7 percent compared to the runup to the 2016 election. On searches for Joe Biden, Breitbart’s visibility was shut off completely — following a change to Google’s algorithm in May, a previously healthy pattern of activity for Breitbart News links went to zero and stayed there until the election.
The study admits empirical research has confirmed that initiatives to remove “disinformation” from platforms like Facebook, “disproportionately hurt conservatives” but dismisses this research because “the right spreads more
content that violates platform rules than the left.”
As evidence for this claim, the researchers cited a recent study from the German Marshall Fund, a globalist think tank that branded mainstream conservative publications including Fox News, Breitbart News, and the Federalist as “deceptive media outlets.” The German Marshall Fund has received backing from far-left billionaire philanthropist George Soros, as well as Google and Microsoft.
The logic is circular: Silicon Valley’s rules, written by an overwhelmingly left-wing workforce, disproportionately punish conservatives. The fact that conservatives are disproportionately punished is then used to prove that conservatives are more likely to violate Silicon Valley’s rules.
The study uses the high engagement rates (likes, shares, comments) on conservative Facebook pages as evidence against claims of political bias, but neglects any analysis of reach — the amount of times posts are seen across a platform.
A censored Facebook page may retain high engagement among its followers, but have low reach due to suppression of its sitewide visibility. Facebook itself has claimed that non-conservative media outlets enjoy a larger reach than conservative ones. In the study’s endnotes, the authors admit that more data on reach would be useful.
The study makes no attempt to hide its step beyond the bounds of analysis into naked advocacy. It makes specific policy recommendations, calling for Democrats to tie the legal protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, critical to the business model of social media platforms, to “acceptance of a range of new responsibilities related to policing content.”
The study also calls on the Biden administration to use the power of the federal government to push for more censorship by social media platforms, a trend anticipated by Breitbart News. The study calls for the establishment of a “Digital Regulatory Agency” to enforce changes to Section 230.
In a comment to Breitbart News, Paul Barrett, one of the authors of the study, denied that funding from Newmark compromised the study’s independence.
“Craig Newmark had no control over what we said in the study,” said Barrett.
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.