Politics

Liberal Sway of Social Media Platforms Influences Political Landscape

social media computer phoneIt’s no secret that corporations hold the power to shape American politics, but are we underestimating the level of power they have over certain demographics? Tech giants and social media sites, in particular, hold extraordinary influencing power—the 2016 election serving as a perfect example of this phenomenon.

Robert Epstein, researcher at the American Institute for Behavioral Research, conducted an experiment at the start of the 2016 American election, in which he used Google and Yahoo to search for political topics. Epstein’s results were intriguing, as he found that Google searches yielded twice as many pro-Clinton articles as Yahoo searches did.

Even more shocking? Blue state residents and men saw more pro-Clinton articles than women and people living in red states. Since the start of the experiment, Epstein has been studying what may cause this bias. He is primarily concerned that Google’s search algorithm was created and programmed in a way that intentionally ranked pro-Clinton articles ahead of any positive article about Clinton’s opponent, Republican candidate Donald Trump.

These algorithms have shown to be increasingly crucial in modern day news dissemination —as more and more Americans consume news from online platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter, these algorithms determine which stories reach the American public’s eyes and ears.

In recent months, a topic of contention has been whether or not these companies have been manipulated by Kremlin-controlled operatives who allegedly attempted to create chaos within the 2016 American elections. However, the power of these companies goes beyond the election. These tech giants wield the power to influence what the American public does and doesn’t see. And in the modern political landscape, visibility makes all the difference.

The social media companies are the gatekeepers,” said Frank Foer, former editor of the New Republic, who has authored a book on social media’s power. “Whatever choices these companies make to elevate or bury information is very powerful and will have a big impact on what people read.”

Conservatives have long been wary of social media giants and their influence, suspecting that these platforms discriminate against conservative content. While many have written off these accusations as nothing more than “conservative paranoia”, an emerging set of studies suggests that these concerns are not without merit.

Epstein, in his research, looked at over 4,000 election-related web searches on Google and Yahoo over the course of 25 days from mid-October up until Election Day. He found that pro-Clinton articles swamped pro-Trump news.

A separate study conducted by Nicholas Diakopoulos analyzed a series of Google search results from December 1, 2015.  He searched for the names of all sixteen presidential candidates and discovered that Democrats, on average, had seven favorable search results among Google’s top 10. Republican candidates, meanwhile, had only 5.9 positive articles in the top ten.

Diakopoulos ran another study the summer prior to the 2016 election and found the majority of sources selected for Google’s news box were left-leaning outlets. The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post accounted for nearly 50% of Google’s news sources. Articles from Fox News, the only conservative news source among the 113 featured by Google during Diakopoulos’ study, only appeared approximately 1% of the time.

Google representative Maggie Shiels rejected the accusations of left-wing bias, claiming that the box’s algorithm picked up news across the internet with no particular regard to political party or ideology. The company, in an explanation on their website, goes into the details of the algorithm, saying it promotes articles based on “freshness, location, relevance and diversity.” But is this really true?

Analysts have looked further into Google’s operations over the years, gathering further information from patents the company has filed. These patents suggest that search engines may be tailoring results to an individual’s web history—promoting sites and story topics the user selects the most. Diakopoulos explained that people searching for positive news about Trump are more likely to be exposed to conservative news, while people who search for left-leaning topics will receive more liberal news results.

The press, however, has a large influence over these results as well. “If 70 percent of the news media is liberal, you can expect there to be some unequal results to come from a search engine,” Diakopoulos said. In this case, social media may not necessarily be biased, but instead reflects the bias of the left-leaning mainstream media.

And all of that’s just indirect bias. In terms of direct bias from social media companies, many powerful tech giants have faced accusations of heavily favoring left-wing news sources.

In May of 2016, several former Facebook employees revealed to technology blog Gizmodo that the platform regularly suppressed news about prominent Conservative figures and events, including Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The employees also confessed that stories from Conservative outlets, such as Newsmax and Breitbart, were dismissed in favor of left-wing coverage of the same stories.

Facebook denied these accusations, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg later invited sixteen Conservative leaders to the company headquarters for a meeting. Zuckerberg conceded that although he holds liberal beliefs, Facebook must be open to Conservative viewpoints if the site is intended to be an open marketplace of ideas.

Google and Facebook aren’t the only platforms that have been accused of liberal bias. In early October, Twitter blocked a campaign advertisement by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), claiming it included “an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong reaction.” In the ad, Blackburn said she helped stop Planned Parenthood from selling baby body parts.

These companies’ denials of bias are still complicated, however, by their executives’ perceived political leanings. Affiliates and employees of Alphabet Inc., a Google holding company, donated over $1 million to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Furthermore, the top 16 candidates who received donations from Alphabet employees were all Democrats.

Facebook has also donated heavily to the Democratic Party—throughout the 2016 election campaign, Hillary Clinton received a total of $478,000 from Facebook affiliates, while Donald Trump received approximately $4,665.

Some companies are more secretive about their political affiliations: in the infamous leaked Podesta emails, it was revealed that Google had loaned its jets to Clinton’s campaign staff on several occasions. The Obama administration also built connections with Google, where twenty-two former White House officials worked. Another study conducted in 2016 concluded that Google representatives attended White House meetings over once a week, on average, from the beginning of the Obama presidency until October 2015.

Some have said that with Trump’s victory, Google and Facebook have suffered a loss, as their left-wing cronyism has finally been exposed. Other Conservative pundits argue that these social media platforms can be valuable tools in the spread of Conservative ideas, if used skillfully. Brad Parscale, who ran President Trump’s campaign, said it was Facebook that helped Trump win the election. “I think Donald Trump won, but I think Facebook was the method—it was the highway in which he drove his car on” Parscale explained.

In their mission to promote left-wing ideas, these platforms are ultimately only hurting themselves and their cause. Do they expect the American populace to accept this prelude to outright censorship? As the gatekeepers of the world’s information, it is time for these social media platforms to open their eyes to reality: silencing Conservative voices will only make us speak up louder. And suppressing information will only make Americans hungrier for the truth.


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Wingleader69
5 years ago

This started back in the late 60’s with Sal Aliniskyites. The SOCIALIST/COMMUNIST/DEMOCRATS own the two MOST important and INFLUENTIAL communication entities in America. They are; Newspapers, broadcast News, and Public Education. As a former teacher I can tell you that “education” is rotten with Socialism. When these sick seeds are planted in our children heads as they have been for several decades, they will ultimately mean the end of democracy in our once great country. As Reagan said – Those who have lived in freedom and then lost it, will never get it back again.

Kamelhaj
5 years ago

This is why I keep harping on how taking the media back from the left should be job #1! Conservative election wins are of limited value if the media keeps slanting the information against them. Some 60% of my co-workers take whatever the media says as Gospel truth, and will literally act and vote as they as they are told to!

PaulE
5 years ago
Reply to  Kamelhaj

Those 60 percent of your co-workers are what I would call sheep and they are emblematic of how effective our public education system, under the control of the progressive left for decades, has succeeded in effectively dumbing-down the general public.

Critical thinking skills are no longer taught. History is largely no longer taught, as it would interfere with the left’s agenda to re-make this nation into yet another in a long list of so-called social democracies. You can’t convince an educated public to accept the version of socialism being pushed by the De,ocrats and even some Republicans, if people are knowledgeable if what such policies have produced elsewhere. Thus the need to increase the level of general ignorance in the public.

The same also holds true for both math and science. Reading a modern high school or even some college level science texts reads more like a propaganda pamphlet on climate change and other environmental talking points, than hard science buttressed with empirical data. To call what is being taught as psuedo science would be giving it more legitimacy than the material warrants. It is largely just pure leftist propagsnda dressed up to appear as “fact”. Math is intentionally being taught, using the latest fad method, in such a convoluted fashion in order to discourage students from persuing advanced mathematics, and to a larger extent, careers in the STEM fields?

So is it any wonder so many people today simply accept whatever the media chooses to put forth as Gospel truth? Of course they do, because they lack knowledge on so many fronts and have no critical thinking skills with which to accurately assess the information the media is feeding them on a daily basis. Progressives in this country understood long ago that the country could not be “transformed” or co-opted as long as the majority if the public was aware of the negative outcomes associated with all implementations of socialism ever carried out in other countries around the world. So their solution was rather novel: Take over the public education system and gradually, over generations, dumb-down the public, so they are no longer aware of those facts. We are almost dumb enough, as a nation, to be ready and willing to accept all the tenets of socialism in this country. Which is why the Democrats and the media have dropped all pretense of being anything other than what they really are. They can now openly advocate for every aspect of socialism with no fear of mass outrage from the public, because a large percentage of the public has been taught that socialism is far better than our constitutional republic.

Dr. Henry Sinopoli
5 years ago

Unfortunately progressive education is under control of very liberal (aka socialist) teachers and professors, young people follow the leader…Big tech giants have no concept or respect of U.S. founding principles or those who have fought and continue to do so to provide the venue for the snowflakes…

PaulE
5 years ago

Social media mega-giants, such as Google and Facebook, are all owned and run exclusively by people who firmly support the progressive, left-wing agenda. As such, it is perfectly consistent for them to be completely biased in favor of promoting that progressive agenda and either omitting coverage of alternative opinions or actively suppressing coverage of news that is not favorable to the progressive agenda. The so-called “fact checking” utilized by all these social media companies are also exclusively biased towards the promotion of the same progressive ideology and agenda. So it should NOT come as a surprise that the “news” reported on these Web sites is, in actuality, simply leftist propaganda dressed up as so-called news.

The mainstream media, as a whole, has been almost completely dominated by the left for many decades. The evolution of social media web sites as so-called “news outlets” was entirely predictable as both the print and TV news mediums lost market share to the newer and more immediate technology. That the owners and creators of these new Web platforms happened to have grown up completely inundated and thus thoroughly indoctrinated to accept and support the progressive idelogy of socislism, it is reasonable to expect that their bias would be reflected on the platforms they run. Thus Google and Facebook, along with most of the other social media web sites, function primarily as a progressive propaganda re-enforcement mechanism for those that use such sites exclusively for their “news”.

Wayne Peterkin
5 years ago

Scary but true. For many years, the mainstream media has been pretty left-wing as well. In the early 1990s I was appalled by articles in newspapers like the Tulsa World and the Houston Chronicle not to mention east and west coast outlets that slanted coverage. A very common tactic was to report fairly honestly on a topic but slanting the headline to convey a certain impression knowing that many readers never went beyond the headline anyway. It’s called propaganda, the left has engaged in it for a very long time, and the social media headquartered in far left-wing enclaves have picked up the banner and continue. They all have a lot of power to mold public opinion, they know it, and they use it. While a free press is a cornerstone of our Constitution, that press has become very ideological and can be just as destructive as it is informative. Sadly I see little solution except to switch to more balanced outlets, which is what I do.

Carol
5 years ago

I have an Android phone with a news app on it from Goggle and there are only two magazines or papers that are even remotely conservative to choose from on this app. 90% of everything they offer is leftest like Huffington or NY Times. Prager U has a lawsuit out against you-tube because of blocking conservative video content and you-tube is owned by Google! I do get conservative news on my Facebook page but only from those pages I am following. This is an area of concern that is only going to get worse if “snowflakes” keep growing and our country becomes overrun with these leftest useful idiots!

PaulE
5 years ago
Reply to  Carol

Given that Millenniels rely exclusively on social media web sites for their “news”, these social media sites serve the purpose of re-enforcing the progressive agenda rather than reporting the actual news in an unbiased fashion. This is intentional on the part of these companies and their owners. Hope this doesn’t come as a shock to you, but part of the requirement to be hired by these companies is that you be a true believer in the progressive agenda. So is it any wonder the “news stories” you see on these sites is almost exclusively promoting the progressive agenda?

John Degges
5 years ago

I definitely have the impression that the Russian government would have rejoiced in Mrs. Clinton’s victory–for that government knew that she is weak and cannot stand up to them.

Sheila
5 years ago
Reply to  John Degges

It’s a good thing that Clinton didn’t win, otherwise we would be in a hole.

Wayne Peterkin
5 years ago
Reply to  John Degges

Since Hillary along with all the other “progressives” lean decidedly socialist and opposed to smaller government and more individual freedom, she shared a lot in common with Russia. Big government and personal liberty are diametrically opposed. You cannot have both. Big government by default demands ultimate power over the people including high taxes, wealth redistribution, and massive regulations as the bureaucracy decides how we must all live.

Hen3ry
5 years ago
Reply to  Wayne Peterkin

DITTO.
Hillary, the Deep State and the Left Wing Media
Think so much of themselves, that They are So Smart and They should have the Divine Right to govern how the rest of us live our lives.
They’re taking a wrecking ball to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the concept of self government
We’ve seen this despotic act many many times throughout history.

john boy
5 years ago
Reply to  John Degges

between her naps and another snort of wiskey???

Chris
5 years ago
Reply to  John Degges

I’m beginning to think we’re underestimating the Russian conspiracy. It wasn’t as much an attempt to get one person elected but to throw the validity of the election into question. Think Bush vs. Gore on steroids. By triggering a Constitutional crisis over who is the President, i.e. the US having no clear leader (or the leader under serious doubt as to validity), the US is paralyzed and Russia is free to act. A house divided against itself cannot stand. They almost did it, and they may yet succeed.

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