Anti-conservative censorship online has gone from bad to worse. As major social media platforms start to target me for censorship, I shudder to think what it means for millions of other Americans, especially as we approach the 2020 presidential campaign.
As Jussie Smollett’s preposterous story about being beaten in a racist, homophobic attack was falling apart, I posted about it on Facebook-owned Instagram, pointing out how unbelievable his allegation was in the first place.
After I let my followers know my thoughts on the Smollett hoax, I received a notification that Instagram deleted my post. When I complained about this blatant censorship, Instagram claimed it was a mistake. My post had just been removed “in error,” the company said. Rather than get better, though, the situation just got worse. Conservatives soon let me know by direct message that Instagram was preventing them from following my account, or even sharing or liking any of my posts.
I’m sure Instagram will claim that this, too, was all just a terrible mistake. It’s funny how these “mistakes” never seem to happen to liberals at the critical moment of a news cycle. More to the point, if this is really a “mistake,” then why does it keep happening?
Just as the Smollett hoax is merely the latest of dozens of nonexistent hate crimes blamed on Trump supporters, my experience isn’t nearly the first time that conservatives have been censored by social media platforms.
Instagram also deleted a post from former Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany when she tried to highlight Elizabeth Warren’s lies about her ancestry. As soon as censorship of McEnany became a headline, Instagram once again claimed it was all a “mistake.” If not for conservative media, the social media giant may never be held accountable.
Facebook offered the same lame excuse after banning several videos posted by conservative nonprofit PragerU for alleged “hate speech.” It was an “employee error,” the tech giant proclaimed after PragerU publicly complained about the censorship. Likewise, when Facebook encountered pushback for banning an ad for a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in the middle of last year’s midterm election campaign, it quickly restored the video and offered a weak apology for its “mistake.”
Even worse than the censorship itself is the fact that it takes public outrage just to get Big Tech to treat conservative voices fairly. When social media censorship comes after someone like me, a prominent businessman and the son the president of the United States, it’s a story. The same is not true for the millions of conservative Americans who have no recourse whatsoever when Twitter or Facebook bans their accounts, limits their reach, and otherwise silences their voices because of their political opinions. It is they who are hurt the most by Big Tech’s manipulative partisan agenda.
Worryingly, there seems to be no limit to that manipulation. The tech giants are now tinkering with their terms of service to mandate that users adhere to liberal orthodoxy in their posts. It is now, for example, a banishment offense to “misgender” or “deadname” transgender people on Twitter, as even a radical feminist discovered when she tweeted that “men are not women.”
The stakes in all this could not be higher. The social media revolution upended people’s relationship with the overwhelmingly liberal media. As the Smollett hoax illustrates, the political left and establishment journalists want nothing more than to return to a world in which their narrative is the only one that matters -- and the truth is whatever they decree it to be.
Unfortunately, Silicon Valley is showing us that tech companies, too, can manipulate information for partisan ends. Their censorship is increasing at an alarming rate, just in time for them to try to spoil my father’s re-election bid, but we won’t let them get away with it.
Those of us with a big enough public profile to hold the tech giants accountable for their partisan speech-policing have a duty to do so. Ordinary conservatives can’t force multibillion-dollar companies to guarantee their right to free speech, which is exactly what the liberals are counting on.
They’ve gone too far, though. They’ve poked the hornet’s nest of conservative activists, and we will continue to vigilantly shame them for their censorship, because so much is at stake.
Donald Trump Jr. is the Executive Vice President at The Trump Organization.