Online platforms got to use their favorite tool in 2020 before and even after the election: censorship.
During one of several Senate hearings into Big Tech bias this year, even the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter could not name a single high-profile leftist person or entity that had been censored on their platforms when asked. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) admonished Big Tech executives in a different hearing, saying specifically to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: “You have used this power to run amok. You have used it to silence conservatives.”
Heavily censored themes included anything related to the election, COVID-19 and the response to it and statements released by President Donald Trump. However, Big Tech even found reasons to censor conservatives over things as innocuous as a children’s book celebrating women’s suffrage.
Given the rampant censorship that was perpetrated in 2020, coming up with the top ten was a daunting task. Here is the 2020 Top Ten list of the worst cases of Big Tech censorship.
- Big Tech shuts down New York Post’s bombshell reporting on Hunter Biden:
The shuttering of the New York Post’s (the Post) bombshell reporting on Hunter Biden stands apart from all other examples of censorship on this list. The worst censorship this year was the insidious attempt to silence the Post’s reporting on a scandal involving former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The report allegedly showed evidence of Hunter introducing his father to a Ukrainian executive who was working as an advisor to Burisma. After the election, it was revealed that there has been an ongoing federal investigation into Hunter’s taxes that involved the allegations reported by the Post. However, Big Tech went to great lengths to suppress the story when it broke.
Twitter disabled the link to the story, calling it potentially unsafe, and then it censored the Post, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, the Trump Campaign and even the House Judiciary Committee for sharing it. Twitter also locked the Post out of its account unless it agreed to delete the tweet, which it refused to do. Twitter later unblocked the story, and it finally unlocked the Post’s account after 17 days.
Facebook joined the suppression of the Post. The outlet relied on its stable of liberal fact-checkers to discredit the report, and limited the reach of the article even before the fact-check was complete.
The result of the censorship by Big Tech, combined with widespread suppression of the story by the liberal media, was stunning. A Media Research Center survey conducted by The Polling Company showed that 4.6% of Biden voters would have changed their vote had they known about the scandal. The MRC poll showed that Trump would have won six key battleground states, giving him 311 electoral votes, thus flipping the election to Trump.
- Twitter censors Trump tweet about mail-in voting in unprecedented manner:
Twitter took censorship of Trump to new heights in 2020. Certainly, censorship of the president is not new, with analysis showing that Twitter has censored him at least 625 times since May 31, 2018, while Biden has not been censored once in that time.
A tweet on Oct. 26 criticizing mail-in voting set a new precedent, though. The tweet read: “Big problems and discrepancies with Mail In Ballots all over the USA. Must have final total on November 3rd.” Twitter placed an interstitial filter over the tweet, indicating that “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process. Learn more[.]” This filter must be clicked through just to read the tweet.
If a user clicks to read the tweet, that warning message remains above the text of the tweet, along with a label under it that reads: “Learn how voting by mail is safe and secure.” The label under Trump’s tweet links to a Twitter information page titled “Voting by mail is legal and safe, experts and data confirm.” The information page contains unattributed summaries of key points about voting by mail. It also contains tweets from various liberal media outlets reaffirming the same.
Twitter did not stop there. Should a user wish to like this tweet, they are not allowed to do so. Likes have been turned off for the tweet. Comments and sharing have also been turned off for the tweet.
Finally, if a user clicks to retweet the tweet, they will first be presented with yet another warning. The warning on the tweet states: “Learn how voting by mail is safe and secure. Help keep Twitter a place for reliable info. Find out more before sharing.” The warning then links to the same mail-in voting information page provided on the previously noted warning beneath the tweet. At the bottom of this warning pop-up there is a small link to “Quote Tweet” the tweet. However, while a user is often able to use the “Quote Tweet” function to retweet something by just not adding a comment, in this case the tweet button is not activated until a comment is added. The Trump tweet would still contain the interstitial in the “Quote Tweet” as well.
- Candace Owens’s Facebook page is “demonetized” and “suppressed”:
Conservative commentator and BLEXIT founder Candace Owens has been censored by Big Tech so many times that she is suing Facebook fact-checkers over it. She explained that she has had multiple fact-checks overturned, but that each time she must get a lawyer involved before she can get a resolution.
Owens’s Facebook page was reportedly “demonetized” over a fact-check of a post she made about Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) in August. In the post, she expressed her excitement about seeing Harris play the “black woman” card as a nominee for Vice President after being sworn into the Senate as an Indian-American woman. Facebook’s fact-checkers ruled this post as “false information,” and allegedly suppressed her page over it.
- YouTube removes COVID video featuring Trump advisor Dr. Scott Atlas:
Big Tech appointed itself the arbiters of what constitutes accurate information on COVID-19 as the virus gained pandemic status. While there has been rampant censorship of any views that did not align with Big Tech’s stance on the virus, one incident stood out from the rest.
White House presidential advisor, Dr. Scott Atlas, MD, was featured in a video produced by Stanford University’s Hoover Institute about “The Efficacy Of Lockdowns, Social Distancing, And Closings.” YouTube claimed that the video contradicted “the World Health Organization [WHO] or local health authorities' medical information about COVID-19,” and removed it.
- Facebook demonetizes The Babylon Bee page over Monty Python joke:
Big Tech does not seem to enjoy the satirical musings of The Babylon Bee and has fact-checked and censored it before. However, Facebook not only deleted a Babylon Bee article, but also demonetized its page over an article that the platform claimed incited violence.
The deleted article was actually a riff on a Monty Python joke, from the “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” movie. The story, regarding the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, was titled: “Senator Hirono Demands ACB Be Weighed Against A Duck To See If She Is A Witch.” Upon review, The Babylon Bee said Facebook stood by its determination, and even advised The Babylon Bee not to speak about the incident publicly.
- Twitter removes all instances of Joe Biden meme:
Twitter declared all-out war on a Joe Biden meme, insisting that it was “misleading information about voting.” The meme was styled to look like a Biden campaign ad, and included a photo of him with a bright light shining out of his chest. The meme said, “His Brain? No, His Heart.”
Twitter used Artificial Intelligence tools to find instances of anyone tweeting the meme, and instantly locked users’ accounts until they removed the offending meme. The users typically then were forced to serve a 12-hour suspension, though some were out longer. Post Millennial editor Anna Slatz and conservative activist Mindy Robinson were two of the Twitter users censored for sharing this meme.
- Instagram removes FBI Crime statistics, calling them “hate speech”:
Instagram users who shared FBI crime statistics in an effort to critique the Black Lives Matter narrative found themselves accused of “hate speech.” Instagram removed posts that cited actual FBI crime statistics that showed black on white violence and murders are more prevalent than white on black. BlazeTV host and producer Elijah Schaffer even noted that, according to the crime statistics, “cops kill as many unarmed whites as unarmed blacks.” Eventually Instagram reversed its decision and reinstated the deleted posts.
- YouTube removes video featuring man who reversed his transgender surgery:
Walt Heyer said he regretted his decision to surgically alter his body so he could live as a woman and had the surgery reversed. In a video posted to YouTube, he detailed his story and his position that children should not be pushed into such gender transitions. YouTube ultimately censored the video, citing its “hate speech policy,” and removed it.
YouTube pointed to one claim made by Heyer in particular: that transgenderism is “a childhood developmental disorder.” The video was re-uploaded by The Heritage Foundation after it “bleeped” the statement as though it were a curse word. This resolution appears to have satisfied YouTube, as the modified video is still available.
- YouTube suspends and demonetizes conservative news network One America News (OAN):
Up and coming conservative news network One America News (OAN) was suspended for a week by YouTube over a video that the network said was not even publicly available. YouTube claimed the network published a video that violated its COVID-19 rules, promoting a false cure, according to Axios. However, OAN’s Alex Salvi stated in a tweet that the video in question was “‘unlisted’ and not available publicly on YouTube.” In addition to the week-long suspension, OAN’s YouTube channel has also been demonetized. The network has since announced a move to conservative YouTube alternative Rumble.
- Instagram bans ads for Senator Marsha Blackburn’s children’s book:
Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn and her daughter wrote a children’s book to highlight Tennessee’s role being the final state to meet the minimum number to ratify the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. Instagram refused to allow paid ads to promote this book three separate times, including on day of the book’s launch.
Instagram indicated after the first two instances that it had automatically banned the ads because they had the potential to “influence the outcome of an election, or existing proposed legislation.” Instagram ultimately reversed its decisions and allowed the ads. After the first instance, the platform requested that Blackburn’s daughter and co-author, Mary Morgan Ketchel, “register her personal account as a political group or influencer,” according to The Federalist. She refused.