A group of 63 leaders in modern conservative thought issued a statement aimed at some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley this week, outlining what they said was a way forward for social media sites coming under criticism for their lack of political objectivity. Driven by Media Research Center President Brent Bozell, who recently authored a study showing the anti-conservative biases of Twitter, Facebook, and Google, the project lays out four principles that every social media site must adhere to if they want to restore fairness to their platforms.
“Provide Transparency,” the group names as the first principle. “We need detailed information so everyone can see if liberal groups and users are being treated the same as those on the right. Social media companies operate in a black-box environment, only releasing anecdotes about reports on content and users when they think it necessary. This needs to change. The companies need to design open systems so that they can be held accountable, while giving weight to privacy concerns.”
The group said that it was also important for tech companies to introduce clarification on the ambiguous and oft-abused term “hate speech.
“Hate speech is a common concern among social media companies,” they write, “but no two firms define it the same way. Their definitions are vague and open to interpretation, and their interpretation often looks like an opportunity to silence thought. Today, hate speech means anything liberals don’t like. Silencing those you disagree with is dangerous. If companies can’t tell users clearly what it is, then they shouldn’t try to regulate it.”
The conservatives went on to say that social media companies should “make equal room for conservative groups” as they do for outside organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and afford to their users “nothing less than the free speech and free exercise of religion embodied in the First Amendment.”
We’ll wait to see if any of the major social media sites take this open letter seriously, but we aren’t going to hold our breath. Just this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that his site was implementing a system that would suppress “untrustworthy” news sources using a combination of artificial intelligence and human moderators. This is another transparent attempt to reduce the flow of right-leaning content on social media and it proves that Zuckerberg and the rest of Silicon Valley has no interest in levelling the playing field. This is their playground, and they want it to reflect their values.
Free speech and ideological diversity? They want no part of either.