James O’Keefe and Vice Media, ideologically right and left respectively, have reported for some time now that social media companies routinely suppress the content of certain users without their knowledge. It’s a practice known as shadowbanning and it has been used against Christians and social conservatives more frequently than any other group that participates in social media.
Fast forward to April of this year. Representatives of Facebook and Twitter were summoned to give testimony to a Senate committee. Texas senator Ted Cruz asked both if the companies employ the tactic. They lied and said they didn’t. The evidence for their prevarication comes from the US Patent and Trademark Office which just granted Facebook a patent for an automated system that would, “receive a list of proscribed content and block comments containing the proscribed content by reducing the distribution of those comments to other viewing users” while displaying “the blocked content to the commenting user such that the commenting user is not made aware that his or her comment was blocked.”
Facebook originally filed for the patent on February 18th, 2015.
Of course, social media’s apologists will attempt to spin this matter by claiming that there is no proof that these companies have used the technology to censor certain speech. They’ll declare that just because a patent was filed to make the practice exclusive to Facebook, doesn’t mean that the tactic has been carried out. The question is: Why spend money to file a patent for the practice if they have no intention of using it?
Also, there’s plenty of proof they have employed shadowbanning. Twitter‘s own employees have admitted as much.
Putting aside the flimsy defense of those that wilfully ignore the truth, we must recognize the ramifications of such a development. Social media companies have built a reputation of being altruistic vehicles of socialization for civilization. In truth, they traffic in what is known as the attention economy – they gather a mass heap of people within a digital walled garden, secretly take users information and sell that information to the highest bidders. Hence, users see ads within their accounts based on what they type, speak, record, upload, are interested in and send via geolocation algorithms to the company’s servers. In essence, social media companies subdivide people and sell them to companies and other interested parties as cattle they can target for marketing purposes.
Stated differently, the users are the product – except when segments of that product report on the predatory practices of the social media companies and/or are ideologically opposed to the political inclinations of the heads of those companies. Then, they will proceed to silence those voices through various means, including shadowbanning. Alex Jones, Project Veritas, The Gateway Pundit, PragerU and others ring a bell? With this, another question arises.
What is to prevent Facebook and co. from receiving advertising dollars from certain users, only to turn around and give those advertisers the false impression that those paid-for-ads reached the targeted audiences when, in fact, they never ran the ads to begin with? Let’s call this, profiteering off of shadowbanning.
It’s more important that ever for the public to decentralize the reach and influence of these companies. No one elected them to regulate speech and yet they are acting like government bureaucrats.