A report released today from the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights concluded that anti-conservative bias claims are part of a disinformation narrative and not supported by any tangible evidence.
“The claim of anti-conservative animus is itself a form of disinformation: a falsehood with no reliable evidence to support it. No trustworthy large-scale studies have determined that conservative content is being removed for ideological reasons or that searches are being manipulated to favor liberal interests,” the report stated.
Many Republicans, spurred by former President Donald Trump, have asserted that social media companies have been unjustly banning conservatives.
In 2018 for example, Trump claimed Twitter is “SHADOW BANNING prominent Republicans” in response to a news story that alleged accounts owned by Republicans were showing up in a general search of the website but not automatically populating when typing their names in the drop-down bar. Twitter later issued a response, attributing the issue to a platform bug.
Additionally, Trump called for a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Act, which protects internet providers and tech companies from liability for content posted on their platforms.
Critics have noted that repealing it would allow the now former president to go after his political opponents and anyone who has spoken out against him.
Eliminating Section 230 would also change communication on the internet as we know it, according to free speech advocates. Without Section 230, tech companies would have to police the information on their platforms or abandon user-generated content altogether. Section 230’s “Good Samaritan” protections allow the removal of obscene or offensive speech, which, as the Brookings Institution observes, “provides the primary legal basis for today’s content-moderation regimes.”
The NYU report recommends that lawmakers update Section 230 rather than repeal it outright.
“The controversial law should be amended so that its liability shield is conditional, based on social media companies’ acceptance of a range of new responsibilities related to policing content. One of the new platform obligations could be ensuring that algorithms involved in content ranking and recommendation not favor sensationalistic or unreliable material in pursuit of user engagement,” the report stated.
You can read the full report HERE.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.