Big Tech is increasingly making it impossible for Republican politicians to communicate with their constituents. In addition to social media censorship, leftists are trying to censor at the level of emails, text messages, and telecommunications infrastructure.
The Republican party is getting quicker at responding to political bias from tech companies. After studies showing that 70 percent of GOP text messages go straight to spam folders compared to just eight percent of Democratic messages, Republicans have introduced the Political BIAS Emails Act. There are also a number of Republican bills targeting social media censorship, at both the federal and state level.
But leftists are already moving on to a new target: telecommunications infrastructure.
Telecom companies have already had an impact on national politics, with Verizon and AT&T briefly shutting down Trump’s campaign texts during the 2020 election, costing him millions of dollars. These conglomerates are vertically integrated, with the major companies also distributing Cable and Satellite TV. As with other concentrations of corporate power, the left hopes to use this to censor conservative viewpoints.
Last year Democratic Reps Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Jerry McNerney (D-CA), both of whom sit on the House Commerce Committee which oversees the FCC, wrote to the largest cable and Satellite companies including DirecTV, Verizon, Comcast, and Cox, stating: “We are concerned about the role” each distributor “plays in disseminating misinformation to millions of [its] subscribers, and we write to you to request additional information about what actions [each distributor] is taking to address these issues.”
They specifically targeted Fox News, Newsmax, and the One America News Network. The letter concluded by asking asked what if they took “actions against a channel for using your platform to disseminate any disinformation” and “Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN. . . both now and beyond any contract renewal date? If so, why?” The implied message was clear: if the distributors did not drop conservative networks, the Democrats would push for punitive regulation.
Instead of fighting back against this intimidation, many of the telecom giants played along with the Democrats’ false narrative. Verizon’s corporate website now includes “A Guide to Misinformation” which gives instructions on how its users can complain to tech companies to demand censorship. Since the Democrats’ letter, DirecTV has dropped One America News and some smaller cable distributors have dropped Newsmax.
In a comment to Breitbart News, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the third-ranking Republican member of congress in the House of Representatives, condemned telecom companies for caving into censorship demands.
“Big telecom is acting like Big Tech, de-platforming and censoring conservatives,” said Rep. Stefanik. “This sort of bias is deeply concerning.”
Democrats were, once upon a time, concerned about Telecom companies squelching free speech. When Verizon blocked pro-choice mass texts, the NY Times demanded the FCC intervene.
When she was a commissioner, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that “independent programmers face a daunting challenge securing ‘real estate’ on cable and satellite systems,” and the FCC should help them.
Adam Candeub, a law professor at Michigan State who headed the National Telecommunications and Information Act, noted “A few years ago, liberals would complain about non-existent Cable and internet access censorship, while promoting Silicon Valley deplatforming. But now they are open about how they want the entire telecommunications industry to deplatform those they disagree with. The FCC and Congress should push back.”
According to Candeub, ideological blacklisting goes against FCC policy. He points to the Cable Act, which states that the FCC “shall seek to promote the policies and purposes of this Act favoring diversity of media voices.” He added, “it’s obvious that many of these decisions are not driven by normal profit calculus but based on woke ideology within the companies and/or left wing pressure campaigns.”
Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, who previously criticized Democrats for demanding censorship of conservative cable networks, told Breitbart News that telecoms-level censorship is unacceptable.
“From text messages to email, from social media to other digital platforms, we must ensure that core political speech and communications are preserved and protected, not secretly censored,” said Carr.
The larger and woker a company gets, then the more likely it will blacklist based on ideology. Verizon is both one of the biggest and the wokest telecom companies. It gave $10 million to Black Lives Matter and made employees attend a particularly extreme corporate Critical Race Theory training, which Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) cited as the reason to pass the STOP WOKE Act in Florida.
It tried to create its own media brand, Oath (later Verizon Media), which invested in left-wing social media sites such as Tumblr, pro-censorship tech sites like TechCrunch, which has repeatedly advocated for more tech censorship., and the far-left Huffington Post.
Under Verizon’s ownership, Huffington Post ran articles complaining of “disinformation” over text messages. Last year, Verizon sold Huffington Post to Buzzfeed, but it still is the minority owner of both publications as they call for deplatforming conservatives both from Cable. Verizon’s media business has since completely failed and sold Verizon Media to a private equity fund last year.
As left-wing activists continue to harass telecom companies into censorship, conservatives need to make sure they apply pressure in the opposite direction to promote free speech.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election. Follow him on Twitter @LibertarianBlue.