Facebook, Twitter and Google/YouTube Censoring Christians
“Chillingly, a growing censorship of Christian and politically conservative viewpoints on the internet is happening in America and across the globe.” That’s from the National Religious Broadcasters’ new site, Internet Freedom Watch.
The site documents censorship of Christians and conservatives by the major online tech giants. It lists more than 30 instances between 2010 and now. They’re increasing. NRB was founded in 1944 to combat corporate censorship of evangelical radio ministries.
Lila Rose, Erick Erickson, Michael Brown, All Censored
Lila Rose of the pro-life group Live Action has seen her pro-life ads censored. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, “Twitter has refused to sell Live Action advertising until Live Action removes tweets that show a pregnancy developing inside a mother.” The legal dispute is still ongoing.
Twitter warned RedState’s Erick Erickson that one of his tweets might be hate speech. He’d been reported for a tweet he made that “incorrectly” referred to a transgender person.
In August, YouTube demonetized hundreds of videos made by The Stream’s Michael Brown. It was part of an effort to target “controversial religious” content. Brown frequently writes about the sanctity of marriage and the LGBT movement.
In December 2013, Twitter blocked users from linking to a petition supporting Phil Robertson. The actor was suspended from Duck Dynasty by A&E after voicing his Biblical views on homosexuality.
Similarly, Twitter blocked users from linking to a petition supporting Houston pastors in October 2014. The city subpoenaed their sermons because they opposed a gender-neutral restrooms law.
Google Search Bias
A study by the global warming/climate change site Watts Up With That found that Google is biased against right-leaning sites. “Google Search is found to be biased in favor of left/liberal domains and against conservative domains with a confidence of 95%.”
The study found that certain left-wing sites showed up so high in search results “that their standing raises suspicions that they have been hand-picked for prominent placement.” Even more troubling, “Certain respected conservative domains are blacklisted.” This is significant since “Google Search provides 25%-30% of the user’s traffic to an average website.”
Twitter engages in a form of censorship known as “shadow banning.” A senior editor at a major digital publisher told Breitbart that Twitter maintains a blacklist and a whitelist of users. It hides the posts of blacklisted accounts from both search results and other users’ timelines.
The site prioritizes whitelisted accounts in search results, even if they’re not the most popular among users. Twitter also “grays” the profiles of users it claims post “sensitive content.” This results in a warning to everyone else before the tweets can be read.
Double Standard for Left-Wing Speech
Those on the left who make threats are often given a free pass. Yet those on the right who engage in verbal attacks are likely to be suspended.
A writer for PJ Media, Megan Fox, has observed that Twitter often suspends her account after Rush Limbaugh reads her articles on air. Twitter did not restore her account until after she deleted the reported tweets.
She reports that YouTube demonetized her account after Limbaugh read one of her articles. One tweet, which complained about putting bakers out of business for objecting to providing cakes for same-sex marriages, used the expression “go hang.” Twitter claimed it was harassment.
Twitter also suspended her for a tweet that warned others to be careful around Muslims engaging in child rape. She referenced a Muslim who raped a child and then defended his actions as a “sexual emergency.”
In contrast, Fox points out tweets by those on the left threatening violence against Trump that were not censored by Twitter.
— Tod (@CynicismInc) November 28, 2017
Some of the censorship has been only temporary. In July 2013, Facebook removed a post by Stream contributor Todd Starnes. It favorably mentioned the NRA, Chick-Fil-A, Paula Deen, Cracker Barrel and the Gideon Bible. Starnes was briefly blocked from his account.
Similarly, Facebook briefly suspended the account of former Gov. Mike Huckabee in July 2012. He wrote a post in support of Chick-Fil-A.
Facebook blocked postings by Vanderbilt University professor Dr. Carol Swain for over 26 hours in November 2015. Left-wing activists organized protests about her religious and moral viewpoints. Facebook suspended the account of a UNC-Wilmington professor in 2013 for posts against same-sex marriage.
Facebook recently shut down over two dozen Catholic pages. It claimed after putting the sites back up that it was an error. A “spam detection tool” was the culprit.
Some of the censorship has been dropped after an outcry. In May of last year, Gizmodo revealed that Facebook was censoring right-leaning content from its trending news feed. Employees replaced them with preferred articles instead. After the news went viral, Facebook fired those involved.
In October, Twitter blocked paid promotion of a pro-life ad from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). The video ad merely contained statements like “I fought Planned Parenthood, and we stopped the sale of baby body parts, thank God.” Facing public pressure, Twitter backed down.
Some are fighting back legally. Prager University filed a lawsuit against Google after 40 of its 250 videos were tagged for restricted mode viewing on Google-owned YouTube. YouTube’s policies state that it blocks violent, sexual or pornographic content. Prager’s censored videos don’t seem to fit this.
Blocked titles include “The Most Important Question About Abortion,” “Do Not Murder” and “Who’s More Pro-Choice: Europe or America?” Google’s staff found the material “inappropriate” for young people.
Other Social Media Censorship
The online censorship doesn’t stop with just those three social media companies. In November 2010, Apple removed the Manhattan Declaration from its iTunes App Store. The statement by prominent Christian leaders on the sanctity of life, the dignity of marriage and freedom of religion.
In March of this year, Vimeo removed all 850 videos by Pure Passion TV and removed its account. Pure Passion is a show that helps people “find healing from sexual brokenness of all kinds.”
GoFundMe deleted the fundraising campaigns for Arlene’s Flowers and Sweet Cakes by Melissa. Those businesses declined to provide services for same-sex weddings. Supporters raised funds for their legal defenses.
Things Not Improving
Other than a few fruitful attempts at pushing back, there aren’t many signs that things are improving. This article only focuses on the censorship of Christian viewpoints. There are plenty more incidents of censorship of other types of conservative viewpoints. Outspoken people on the right like Robert Stacy McCain, who was banned from Twitter in February of 2016, remain shut out.
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube offer a new way this century to get around the left-leaning, so-called mainstream media. President Trump mastered the use of Twitter to get his message out directly to the American people. But these increasing incidents of censorship are making it more difficult for Christians and those on the right to use this alternative media.
Feel free to add other incidents of censorship in the comments. Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC