25 Times Big Tech Claimed They Censored Conservatives by Mistake

December 21st, 2020 11:31 AM

Big Tech has eviscerated free speech on social media. There have been at least 25 famous, well-documented examples of when Big Tech companies censored conservatives, allegedly by mistake since August 7. 2018. 

Conservatives ranging from President Donald Trump to conservative commentator Candace Owens and entire news outlets like the New York Post have been erroneously censored, and often with Big Tech representatives apologizing long after the fact. Big Tech’s long history of overwhelmingly liberal political bias makes any claim of mistakes made in good faith highly suspect.

Twitter infamously jumped the gun to censor a Post article on an unprecedented level. The shocking revelation released by the Post on Oct. 14, cited purported emails from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter and reportedly exposed the alleged scandalous dealings of both father and son in Ukraine. Twitter responded by disabling the link to the story and preventing users from being able to share the article to each other in private messages. Dorsey later admitted in a Big Tech hearing that the unprecedented crackdown was a mistake. 

Twitter also infamously censored conservative commentator Candace Owens. Owens was temporarily suspended by Twitter for parodying the then-New York Times recent hire Sarah Jeong’s anti-white rants. Owens did so by swapping out the words “white” and “men” for “black,” “Jewish,” and “women,” respectively in a tweet. Twitter did not take issue with Jeong’s original anti-white tweets but Owens faced consequences for rewriting them to make a point. Twitter suspended Owens for 12 hours until public outcry erupted over double standards. Owens’s account was then quickly reinstated. Owens posted a screenshot indicating that Twitter staff had claimed to have “made an error.”

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) raked Big Tech companies over the coals at a mid-November hearing for having a history of “mistakes” that target conservatives. Lee called out a sinister pattern as evidence of Big Tech bias. “These mistakes, they may be mistakes, but they're mistakes that rhyme,” said Lee. “They may not repeat themselves, but they rhyme,” implying that the “consistent theme” is one of censorship of “Republicans, conservatives and pro-life activists.” Lee then used examples, such as when Twitter claimed it mistakenly suspended U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan, and when Facebook censored an ad exposing former Vice President Joe Biden’s and Senator Kamala Harris’s “views on late-term abortion.” 

Other conservative leaders, such as Donald Trump Jr., have also called out this phenomenon of suspiciously one-sided censorship “error[s].” Don Jr. addressed this phenomenon in a commentary for The Hill: “Instagram once again stifled my voice, as well as that of my father, by preventing our accounts from appearing in search results. As with every time this happens, Instagram simply blamed an error.” He added: “If social media can do that to the president, then no one is safe.”

Twitter: One of the Most Censorious Big Tech Companies

Twitter is one of the best examples for how a Big Tech platform can be used for rigging an election.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) grilled Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey at a late November hearing, asking “who the hell elected you?” Cruz was furious about how Twitter suppressed the New York Post’s (the Post) report on the Hunter Biden scandal and suspended the Post’s account itself. Dorsey claimed that the quick “enforcement” blocking the two URLs from being shared on Twitter — including via private message — had been an error.

Twitter has a history of jumping the gun and choosing to censor conservatives.

Twitter banned ZeroHedge’s account for allegedly violating Twitter’s platform manipulation policy by theorizing about the COVID-19 virus’s origins. The initial ZeroHedge article suggested that the mainstream narrative about coronavirus being spread thanks to some bat soup was a “fabricated farce.” After the account was reinstated over 100 days later, Twitter spokesperson reportedly told the Verge, “We made an error in our enforcement action in this case. Based on additional context from the account holder in appeal, we have reinstated the account. We have a dedicated appeals process for all account holders.”

Some examples of botched censorship reveal Big Tech’s notorious double standards when it comes to moderating users.

African-American conservative commentator Candace Owens was temporarily suspended by Twitter for parodying the then-New York Times recent hire Sarah Jeong’s anti-white rants. Owens did so by swapping out the words “white” and “men” for “black,” “Jewish,” and “women,” respectively in a tweet. Twitter did not take issue with the original anti-white tweets from Jeong, but Owens faced consequences for rewriting them about other groups to make a point. Twitter suspended Owens for 12 hours until public outcry erupted over double standards. Owens’s account was then quickly reinstated. Owens posted a screenshot indicating that Twitter staff  had claimed to have “made an error.” 

YouTube/Google: The Monolithic, Anti-Conservative Gatekeepers

Google, which famously dropped its corporate motto “Don’t be Evil,” has a history of censoring conservatives and, as Foreign Policy wrote: “quietly collaborating with the Chinese government.”

The Oculus and Anduril founder Palmer Luckey reported that YouTube deleted his comments criticizing the Chinese government. Luckey tweeted: “YouTube has deleted every comment I ever made about the Wumao ((五毛), an internet propaganda division of the Chinese Communist Party.” A YouTube spokesperson told the Media Research Center, “This appears to be an error in our enforcement systems and we are investigating.”

Google/YouTube have censored more explicitly American cultural targets as well.

A trailer for the documentary "America! America! God Shed His Grace on Thee!" was removed several times from Google and YouTube advertising. A Google spokesperson told the Media Research Center (MRC) that the company’s “sensitive events policy” designed to “protect users from harmful advertiser behavior such as price-gouging” was somehow triggered by the trailer. “ In this instance, our automated systems mistakenly overflagged the content as it includes mentions of COVID and imagery of face masks. We regret the error the spokesperson acknowledged. The note also included a laughable claim that makes the entire discussion suspect: “We enforce our policies consistently, regardless of political or religious affiliation.”

Google’s accidental censorship has massive implications for entire organizations. Google claimed that a technical issue prevented many high profile conservative websites from being reached, making them appear blacklisted. Google said the problem was merely a bug in the system. Websites such as NewsBusters, MRCTV, CNSNews.com, The Washington Free Beacon, Breitbart, The Resurgent, Twitchy, RedState, PJ Media, Judicial Watch, The Blaze, Townhall, Project Veritas, LifeNews, PragerU, and The Daily Wire could not be found in an organic search via Google. Google later apologized via Twitter after fixing this so-called pre-election “bug.”

Facebook/Instagram: Where No Conservative Is Safe

Photo-sharing platform Instagram  is owned by Facebook. Both have a history of haphazard censorship against conservative figures.

“Instagram slapped a ‘fact-check’ on President Donald Trump’s Pearl Harbor remembrance post Wednesday, insisting on a post that had nothing to do with the election that President-elect Joe Biden is, indeed, the president-elect,” The Federalist reported Dec. 8. The photo Instagram found so controversial was merely an image of Trump himself, First Lady Melania Trump, and a man in uniform saluting a monument showing the names of Pearl Harbor victims with the words “Remembering Pearl Harbor” superimposed in all caps. 

After public outcry, however, Instagram removed the fact-check. Herald Sun opinion columnist Rita Panahi retorted, “They heard you. @instagram removed the warning/fact check they put on President Trump’s Pearl Harbour post. #RevokeSection230.” 

Conservative influencers have been targeted as well. Instagram has also cracked down on conservative commentator and producer Ashley StClair on Nov. 21 for posting a “photo with a gun after hog hunting.” Screenshots shared by StClair indicated that Instagram had removed her photo for “coordinating harm or promoting crime” and “violence and incitement.” StClair’s instagram story reporting on this was then “removed for coordinating harm or promoting crime.” If that weren’t enough, she announced that “Instagram has banned me from doing livestreams as well.”

When contacted, the press team who works for Facebook/Instagram responded: “Thank you for your inquiry - this was an error and we have since addressed it.” No further details were provided.

Facebook itself was accused of “banning two ads centered on the abortion stance of then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris,” the Washington Examiner reported. Social Media Producer Andrew Miller summarized in an article what took place: “The ads in question label Biden and Harris as ‘extreme’ on abortion and supporting the practice ‘up until the moment of birth.’” The Examiner summarized that “the Dispatch apologized and retracted its fact check, saying that it was published in error,” and Facebook reportedly reinstated the ad.

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your local representative and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on “hate speech” and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form and help us hold Big Tech accountable.