No evidence FB, Twitter suppress conservatives: Report

Claim that social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube suppress conservatives is not just untrue but is itself a falsehood with no reliable evidence to support it, says a new report

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
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IANS

The claim that social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube suppress conservatives is not just untrue but is itself a form of disinformation, a falsehood with no reliable evidence to support it, says a new report from New York University's Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.

Former US President Donald Trump also accused major social media companies of censoring the political right.

In response to Twitter's decision to exclude him from the platform on January 8, Trump accused the company of "banning free speech" in coordination with "the Democrats and Radical Left."

But the new report said that no trustworthy large-scale studies have determined that conservative content is being removed for ideological reasons or that searches are being manipulated to favour liberal interests.

Even anecdotal evidence of supposed bias tends to crumble under close examination, wrote the authors of the report Paul Barrett and J. Grant Sims, both from NYU Stern Centre for Business and Human Rights.

For the study, the researchers examined data from analytics platforms CrowdTangle and NewsWhip, besides several existing reports.

The researchers found that on most days, right-leaning US Facebook pages dominate the list of sources producing the most engaged-with posts containing links.

During the run-up to the 2020 election and its aftermath, the page of conservative commentator Dan Bongino outperformed those of most major news organisations, said the report titled "False Accusation:The Unfounded Claim that Social Media Companies Censor Conservatives."

The pages of Donald Trump and pro-Trump evangelist Franklin Graham consistently showed up in the top 10, as did Fox News, said the report, adding that CNN, National Public Radio, and The New York Times sometimes made the list, but Joe Biden rarely did.

The researchers concluded that conservative views are not systematically excluded from YouTube which Twitter does not target conservatives or Republicans as such, but people who violate its rules by calling for violence, harassing others, or advocating hateful ideologies.

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