On January 8, in the wake of the protests two days earlier at the U.S. Capitol that left five dead and derailed congressional debate over election fraud, Twitter and Facebook permanently banned President Trump from their platforms. Jack Dorsey, the scruffy billionaire CEO of Twitter, apparently banned Trump while vacationing in French Polynesia.
This action by Twitter and Facebook, while shocking, should not surprise anyone. This is the latest salvo in a war that began the day Trump declared his candidacy. In a series of calculated escalations that will be recounted here, Big Tech has achieved something that would have been unthinkable four years ago, the cancellation of a U.S. President.
Twitter, in a statement said “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” Surprisingly, because this is rarely done by any of the social media platforms when they ban someone, Twitter identified two tweets made by the President on January 8 that resulted in their decision to ban him.
“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
And, shortly after that:
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
What? That’s it?
Reading Twitter’s explanations for why these tweets were so dangerous that they closed his account offers a fresh view into the leftist mind. This is a mentality where thoughts they disagree with are not merely disagreeable, they are “violent.” In their overview, key points they make about these two tweets include the following arguments:
That Trump is not attending the inauguration implies he believes the election result is illegitimate, and that Trump is “disavowing” his commitment to an orderly transition. But Trump, along with millions of voters and thousands of witnesses, have a right to believe the election result was illegitimate. And not attending the inauguration can be as much an indication he wants to preserve an “orderly transition” as it might indicate the opposite. It gets worse. Twitter goes on to claim that by saying he will not attend, Trump is encouraging people to violently disrupt the inauguration.
Twitter then claims Trump’s use of the words “American Patriots” is meant to support violent acts, that Trump’s saying his supporters have a “giant voice” and “will not be disrespected” is “as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an orderly transition.” Finally, Twitter claims “plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off Twitter,” which somehow, according to Twitter, is linked to Trump’s offending tweets.
Facebook’s newsroom also released a statement on January 7 explaining their deplatforming of the President. Facebook owns Instagram, so they cancelled Trump’s accounts on both platforms. Their explanation was less specific, stating “We believe the risks of allowing President Trump to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great, so we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely.”
There is simply no logic to these assertions. Trump’s speech on January 6 (read transcript), and his tweets before and after that, did not include calls to violence. Trump’s enemies in big tech made gratuitous inferences because silencing Trump is part of their ongoing campaign to silence any dissent to the leftist corporate state, of which they are an integral part.
The Big Tech War Against Conservatives Started in 2016
Big tech’s war on right-of-center free speech started in earnest in late 2016 when, against all expectations, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton and became president elect. Realizing that Trump supporters had utilized social media more effectively than Clinton supporters, Big Tech’s response was to begin deplatforming influential right wing content producers. As the 2018 mid-term elections loomed, their work became urgent.
Alex Jones and his “Infowars” website is a good case study in the tactics used to reduce his impact. In the month of November 2016, Jones attracted 125 million video views. By July 2018 that number had been cut to 25 million views. According to Advertising Age, the decline was because the platforms that drove viewers to InfoWars, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube search, “clearly were trying to reduce his impact.” But this wasn’t good enough. Jones had to be silenced.
For the first time, the major online platforms coordinated their efforts. Within a few days in early August 2018, Alex Jones “Infowars” was expelled from Apple podcasts, Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube. On September 6th, Twitter followed suit. On September 8th, Apple banned Alex Jones InfoWars app from its App Store. Jones was virtually erased. He had 2.4 million YouTube subscribers, all gone; 830,000 Twitter followers, purged; his Apple podcast archives were deleted; his Facebook page, with 2.5 million followers, wiped out.
The acts of suppression or outright deplatforming perpetrated by Big Tech on right-of-center content creators since 2018 are countless and global. They started with someone like Alex Jones, whose influence constituted a genuine threat, at the same time as his polarizing rhetoric meant a lot of people would think he deserved to be deplatformed. But by the middle of 2019, any outspoken foe of globalism with more than a few followers was at risk. An article published in July 2019 by the BBC made the establishment position embarrassingly plain on the threat represented by right-of-center narratives:
“The more mainstream these narratives become, the greater the tension will be over whether they really are extreme or whether they represent acceptable political discourse, and the views of a substantial number of real people.”
“These narratives.” That is the threat. What if “real people” don’t want open borders? What if they would like facts instead of lies regarding how immigration policies affect the economy and social cohesion? What if they want balanced opinions, or just want to hear the other side for a change, on the issues of multiculturalism, race, feminism, gender “equity” and social justice? What if “real people” sometimes find an unrepentant critic of identity politics to be a breath of fresh air? What if they believe there should be a robust and honest debate over globalism, or over climate change?
Big Tech’s War Escalated During the 2018 Midterm Elections
And then the midterms came. A great example of YouTube censorship, by now starting to become more brazen, was the treatment of a video debunking some preposterous claims made by Beto O’Rourke in a primary debate. O’Rourke, lying through his teeth, spewed out a torrent of falsehoods regarding rates of incarceration, hate crimes, school punishment, illegal immigrant crime rates, and the legacy of slavery. Meanwhile, a few days later, a right-of-center critic of O’Rourke, Vincent James O’Connor, posted a video on YouTube that refuted, using impeccable sources such as FBI crime statistics, every one of O’Rourke’s points.
This couldn’t be tolerated, and with no explanation, YouTube removed O’Connor’s video (his rebuttal to O’Rourke is summarized here). O’Rourke, back in mid-2019, was still a darling of the leftist establishment. YouTube protected him, without a shred of moral or legal justification to do so. More recently, unsurprisingly, YouTube deleted O’Connor’s channel altogether. He can still be found on BitChute and elsewhere.
According to the Los Angeles Times, by mid-October 2018, Facebook purged more than 800 accounts and pages pushing “political messages.” Matt Lamb, director of communications for Students for Life of America, provided dozens of examples of biased deplatforming in a guest editorial for USA Today titled, “Google, Twitter and Facebook should just be honest if they don’t like conservatives.”
By 2020 Big Tech Was in Open War Against the American Right
If the mid-term election’s round of cancellations was the prelude, actions during and since the 2020 election are the first main act. Big Tech’s actions were constant and consistent: If you challenge the establishment narrative, you will be banned. Here are just a few highlights:
In August they banned videos discussing alternative treatments for COVID-19, presumably because President Trump had promoted these treatments. This suppression is ongoing, and inexplicable. The damage to President Trump has been done. “Inject bleach into your arm,” and other distorted versions of what he really said are forever tagged to Trump, and Trump’s days in the White House are numbered. So what’s going on? Has Big Pharma joined up with Big Tech and Big Finance? It appears to be so.
In August Facebook threatened to cancel the Hodge Twins, brothers who committed the unforgivable crimes of being pro-Trump while Black, being not only persuasive but wickedly funny, and in the process amassing over 6 million followers. Facebook stopped short of deplatforming the Hodge’s, but it will be interesting to see how long these funny guys, who among other things sell t-shirts that say “Biden Sucks, Kamala Swallows” are going to last.
Sparing their enemies who were too popular to dare to cancel didn’t stop Facebook from ramping up manipulative, agenda driven content in their “information centers,” nor did it prevent them from hiring biased “fact checkers,” to help them justify new waves of cancellations.
In October, as early voting was well underway in several states, the New York Post published an expose linking Hunter Biden to unsavory deals with unsavory international businesses where he traded on his relationship with his father to enrich himself, and possibly also his father. Twitter blocked the URL to this story entirely, while Facebook “limited distribution” of the story. But while this was going on, the Big Tech platforms simultaneously engaged in a wholesale purge of the so-called “Q-Anon” accounts.
If all you consume is establishment media, you may be forgiven for thinking that all these Q related content creators do is accuse the Democratic party of being Satan worshipers who eat babies and sexually abuse children.
In fact, what the Q websites were doing, and still are doing in the online backwaters to which they have been driven, are investigating suppressed evidence of corruption throughout the federal government and powerful institutions in international business and finance. Needless to say, also targets of the Q collective’s investigations include the Bidens and the Clintons. The Q investigators are a threat. That is why they have been censored.
Over a few days in mid October, YouTube banned over 30 major Q related channels, and hundreds of minor ones. They also took on some thorns in their side that weren’t Q related, largest of which was Mouthy Buddha, an insouciant rebel channel that had earned over 10 million subscribers. Gone. Overnight. But it wasn’t until after the election of November 3 that Big Tech stepped up their censorship game even further.
“Election Misinformation” – Carte Blanche to Censor
By now everyone has seen the post-election “warnings” on Twitter. They started with a simple sentence they would paste under any posts that question the integrity of the voting, which read “this claim about election fraud is disputed.” Users who wanted to reply, retweet or like any such posts would have to click twice, first seeing a dedicated page presenting Twitter’s arguments against claims of election fraud, then only after clicking through that page were they allowed to log their reaction. But this wasn’t enough.
Twitter’s more recent attempts to manipulate election related posts moves from an annoying inconvenience to outright censorship, with a new warning that read “This claim of election fraud is disputed, and this Tweet can’t be replied to, Retweeted, or liked due to a risk of violence.”
It was almost as if Twitter was trying to establish a precedent. First Facebook says that this belief – that the election was not secure and fraud may have changed the outcome – is misinformation that will incite violence, and then if there is violence, Facebook will say they were right, and now they have to censor even more people. And that’s what happened, and that’s exactly what they did. President Trump is far from the only victim of the massive purge that’s happening right now, across all platforms. Here are just a few examples.
In just the last few hours, Twitter banned the account of the Trump campaign’s digital director, Gary Coby, accusing him of letting Trump use his account. At the same time, conservatives on Twitter are reporting they’re losing tens of thousands of followers: Brian Kilmeade “lost 30K followers in 4 hours,” Terrence K Williams “I lost 100,000 followers,” Omar Navarro “Lost 28K followers in one day, Dave Rubin “I’ve lost over 35K followers on this authoritarian shitscape in the last 48 hours,” Kristy Swanson “Lost another 20,000 followers overnight,” Rachel Campos-Duffy “I lost 8K followers in 24 hours, Michael Malice “just lost 200 followers in the last 5 minutes,” Byron York “now down nearly 29,000.”
Facebook and Instagram have just banned journalist Elijah Schaffer, an utterly harmless investigator who was known for his revealing interviews with leftist demonstrators. As is typical when this happens, Facebook offered no explanation for their action. In another significant development, Brandon Straka’s #WalkAway movement, with over 500,000 members, has just been banned from Facebook. Not only was Straka’s campaign account removed, but his personal account along with the accounts of every member of his team.
Straka, an inspiring leader who launched the “#WalkAway” movement to welcome former liberals like himself, who realized they had been abandoned by the takeover of the Democratic party by the leftist corporate establishment, will probably get his account reinstated. His persona is too popular, his support too broad, his message and his tone too defensible, for the ban to stand. But the fact that it happened at all is further evidence of Big Tech arrogance.
Reactions to the Great Purge
Just to underscore how alienated the American right in general, and Trump supporters in particular, have become, consider this reaction from Reuters: “Facebook and Twitter crackdown around Capitol siege is too little, too late.” They’re not kidding. The general argument in the Reuters report seems to be “we can’t just ban extreme hate speech and overt calls to violence, because people just adapt with speech that doesn’t sound hateful and doesn’t overtly call for violence, so therefore we have to ban everybody.” They don’t exactly say that in the article, but that’s the logical inference. And the actions of Big Tech since the events of January 6 bear this out.
At least one leftist institution has found its conscience, however. As reported in Newsweek, “A legislative counsel member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned Friday that the suspension of President Donald Trump’s social media accounts wielded ‘unchecked power,’ by Twitter and Facebook,” and that “the decision to suspend Trump from social media could set a precedent for big tech companies to silence less privileged voices.” It will be interesting to see if the ACLU, which back in 1978 defended the right of Nazis to march through Skokie, Illinois, will return to their original principle of defending all speech.
Reaction on the right has been furious. Mega-pundits Rush Limbaugh, Dan Bongino, and Mark Levin have all just cancelled or deactivated their Twitter accounts. Donald Trump Jr., expecting to be banned from Twitter any day, said “Big tech is able to censor the President? Free speech is dead & controlled by leftist overlords.”
As quoted in Politico, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said “he was ‘more determined than ever‘ to repeal Section 230, a measure that protects internet platforms from lawsuits concerning third party content. But if platforms lose their immunity as platforms, things might get worse instead of better for free speech advocates. Not only would all platforms be forced to regulate speech more tightly than ever, but only the big platforms – the leftist giants – would have the financial resources to withstand the inevitable and unrelenting torrent of lawsuits. Better to just force platforms to adhere to Section 230, or break them up. The nuclear option of abolishing Section 230 protection could backfire in spectacular fashion.
Which leads us to an equally important form of censorship, which is occurring with or without Section 230. Connecting free speech to whether or not content platforms adhere to Section 230 doesn’t address the silencing and denial of service coming from other online service providers. Section 230 has no effect on what decisions are made by the banks, the app stores, the payment processors or crowd funding sites, or, for that matter, the ride sharing companies and online retailers. The war on right-of-center America is corporate, full-spectrum, and it has just begun.
Full Spectrum Cancellation is the Next Wave of Supression
A harbinger for how Big Tech would move beyond mere deplatforming to engage in full spectrum warfare against right-of-center content creators can be found in the case of Lana Lokteff, who is the host of Red Ice TV” along with her husband Henrik Palmgren. Lockteff’s channel has never engaged in hate speech nor has it ever issued calls to violence, even if what they’ve had to say doesn’t necessarily represent the mainstream right-wing.
But Big Tech’s war on Red Ice TV reaches way beyond just being deplatformed by YouTube, which occurred in October 2019. In subsequent months they have also been banned by PayPal, Braintree, Venmo, Zelle, iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Wells Fargo, Coinbase, Skrill, Pinterest and iHeartRadio. In August 2020, in a move that exemplifies how Big Finance is working in tandem with Big Tech, Red Ice TV actually ended up on the MATCH List, a blacklist maintained by the credit card processors, designed to thwart terrorists and drug cartels.
Think that can’t happen to you? What about Laura Loomer, a content creator who is critical of Islam and mass immigration, a Jewish American, and a recent GOP congressional candidate in Florida? As described in a scathing video released by a friend of Loomer, recently elected congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Loomer has been banned from banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Paypal, Venmo, GoFundMe, CashApp, Periscope, Uber, Uber Eats, Medium, Lyft, TeeSpring, and Chase. For what? Sharing her opinion?
Loomer’s work was interesting; hard to find these days. She often engaged in performative videos, such as one in which she arrived at Nancy Pelosi’s home late one night with two undocumented migrants, sit up a “sanctuary” on the front lawn, and invited Pelosi to offer them food and shelter. Controversial? Sure. But only an agenda-driven ideologue would consider this material that deserves the treatment Loomer’s received.
Equally ominous evidence of a full spectrum war on right-of-center content creators is the behavior of the hosting companies. On November 15, WordPress, which is a major website hosting service, kicked the Conservative Treehouse off its servers. Without providing specific reasons for their decision, WordPress gave the Conservative Treehouse until December 2 to find a new host. With between 500,000 and 1 million site visits per day, the Conservative Treehouse is not a lightweight. They found a new host. But what WordPress did was not unique, as evidenced by what Parler is going through right now.
A conservative alternative to Twitter, Parler has grown in less than two years from a start-up to a platform with over 10 million users. For a brief time on January 8, Parler’s website crashed and experienced timeouts caused by the flood of new users that were migrating to it from Twitter. Expected to add millions of users and one Trump endorsement short of becoming a mainstream competitor to Twitter, Parler attracted the attention of Big Tech. The attacks came quick.
First came threats from Apple and Google, demanding Parler moderate its content or see its app banned from both Apple and Google’s online app stores. Making good on its threat, mere hours later Google removed the Parler app from the Google Play Store, supposedly based on reports that Trump will join the platform. Meanwhile, Apple gave Parler only 24 hours to present them with a plan for how they will moderate their content – an impossible demand and one which Parler’s CEO John Matze has already rejected. But that’s just half the story.
Parler, as a website already fielding high volume traffic, uses Amazon servers to deliver fast, global coverage. There are only a handful of vendors in the world capable of offering hosting services to websites that generate traffic in the hundreds of millions and billions of transactions per month, and Amazon is one of them. But not for long. Amazon served notice to Parler that they will have to find a new hosting service by midnight on Sunday January 11 or they will go dark. Parler intends to make the transition, but the message is clear. Big Tech intends to control everything Americans think and say.
The Hypocrisy and the Power of Big Tech
It isn’t necessary to dwell on just how hypocritical this reaction to the events of January 6 in the nation’s capital has been. Everyone knows what happened should not have happened. Everyone knows it was wrong. And everyone paying attention knows that Trump didn’t encourage any of it. There’s a deeper problem, which is that the connectivity that social media enables is the reason people can organize and communicate with a speed and reach that was unthinkable even just ten years ago. That means flash mobs in the thousands, comprised of like-minded, potentially extremist individuals, can be mobilized and unleashed for pennies. How do you stop this, when it becomes destructive to lives and property?
This is a legitimate question. But where was Big Tech while BLM and Antifa protesters were (and still are) rampaging through the downtowns of dozens of American cities all summer long? Why weren’t the social media accounts managed by these groups turned off? Why weren’t the politicians and newscasters who encouraged this violence ejected from Twitter and Facebook? The reason is obvious; the leftist violence that burned down buildings, broke windows, looted businesses, costing billions of dollars and costing dozens of lives, was serving the agenda of the leftist corporate establishment. It served notice to every centrist or right-of-center politician, celebrity, business owner, or just plain ordinary voter in America: You reelect Trump, and we’re coming for you.
An American who just watches the supposedly unbiased legacy networks, ABC, CBS, NBC and NPR, will never see what videographer Andy Ngo, has recorded and posted for months. Black clad Antifa cadres marching through the streets of America, beating up anyone they deem “fascist,” and fighting pitched battles night after night with police. Meanwhile, the ABC News Political Director Rick Klein, in a tweet he later deleted, wrote “Trump will be an ex-president in 13 days. The fact is that getting rid of Trump is the easy part, cleansing the movement he commands is going to be something else.”
One of many eloquent responses to this outrageous hypocrisy comes from MRC TV’s Britt Hughes. In a blistering seven minute rant that anyone angry at the hypocrisy should watch just to let its cathartic eloquence sink in and sooth the nerves, Hughes covers all the bases, says everything that needs to be said, and helps her listeners feel like somebody got it all out and exposed the entire rotten leftist edifice of lies and gave it the withering sunshine it deserves.
Americans who supported President Trump for all the right reasons – his policies on trade, energy and the environment, immigration, foreign policy, deregulation, education, and free speech, to name a few – are in a fight for their lives. They are facing the most formidable assemblage of financial and media special interests in the history of the world. This is no exaggeration. Big Tech doesn’t just exercise overwhelming and unprecedented control over communications in America, these companies also wield stupefying financial power. A look at seven of the most influential proves this.
Just seven companies – Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and Netflix – back in October of 2018 had total cash on hand of $386 billion, with a collective market value of $4.5 trillion. Then the pandemic came along, and even more commerce and communication was forced online. As of August 2020, less than two years later, these same companies had total cash-on-hand of $495 billion – that’s a half-trillion dollars in their checking accounts. Their cumulative market value had soared to $7.6 trillion, up 71 percent from just 22 months earlier.
This is what Americans who value free speech are up against. This is what Americans who want to resist leftist answers to the issues of trade, energy and the environment, immigration, foreign policy, deregulation, and education are up against. The events of January 6 gave these companies, along with their other corporate and political partners on the Left, an excuse to clamp down harder and faster on free speech and on the people who still oppose their plans.
The only possible glimmer of hope in all this is the possibility they have not done “too little, too late,” but too much, too soon. They’ve shown their hand. Perhaps more people will Walk Away. Perhaps more people will take the Red Pill. Perhaps more people will realize that Trump wasn’t their enemy; that he was fighting for them; that he was fighting for all of us.
This article originally appeared on the website American Greatness.
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Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.
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