EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The year 2024 has not yet begun, but election-interfering censorship is well underway as Big Tech companies have already censored every presidential candidate. 

Big Tech manipulated the message of all 2024 presidential candidates at least once, but far and away, Big Tech chose to focus its ire on incumbent Democrat President Joe Biden’s opponents. MRC researchers recorded a total of 169 cases of censorship against the 2024 presidential primary candidates to date in MRC’s exclusive CensorTrack.org database. A total of 162 of those cases of censorship were against Biden’s opponents. From censoring candidates’ campaign websites, to fact checks, to removing content and accounts altogether, social media platforms have been hard at work interfering in the upcoming election and silencing the voices of those who seek to represent and lead the United States. Big Tech censorship impacted the accounts of all 23 candidates that MRC has been tracking regardless of party affiliation, but it has been particularly harmful for Biden’s opponents.

  • Big Tech companies censored Biden opponents a whopping 162 times combined. Meanwhile, Biden was censored only 7 times. These numbers do not include community notes. Of Biden’s opponents, Big Tech censored political newcomer and Strive Asset Management co-founder Vivek Ramaswamy the most (18 times). The candidates are ordered below by number of times censored:

  • Every major Big Tech social media company participated in the election-interfering censorship. Google, YouTube, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok each censored at least one candidate one or more times. Google was the worst offender as it censored every candidate except Biden a combined total of 112 times. Below are the total number of times each platform censored a presidential candidate:

  • Big Tech managed to censor former President Donald Trump nine times despite his continued absence from most major social media platforms. “Trump created his own platform Truth Social and isn't on the other platforms. And yet, he’s still the fifth-most censored candidate,” joked MRC President Brent Bozell. Big Tech platforms censored Trump a total of nine times with the biggest offenders being Google’s Search and YouTube. Google has repeatedly suppressed Trump’s campaign website and YouTube left context labels under his YouTube videos asserting that Trump did not win the 2020 election even when he did not mention the previous election in the actual video.
  • Big Tech repeatedly silenced Biden’s biggest threat to the Democratic nomination. Biden’s chief in-party rival Robert F. Kennedy Jr. received the brunt of the censorship on the Democratic side. Big Tech blistered Kennedy Jr. with censorship 15 times before he reclassified as an independent presidential candidate. YouTube has been particularly harsh to Kennedy Jr., as it deleted seven videos featuring interviews with the now-Independent candidate when he spoke on the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines or the assassination of his father. After making the switch, Kennedy Jr. was censored one time by Google and once by YouTube. Big Tech has also censored each of Biden’s other Democratic opponents: Dean Phillips four times, Marianne Williamson three times and Cenk Uygur twice. The Big Tech censorship offenders included: Google Search, Google’s AI chatbot Bard, Google-owned YouTube, Meta, X and YouTube. 
  • Elon Musk’s X platform tampered with presidential candidates’ messages at least 115 times through Community Notes. The X platform tacked a total of 115 Community Notes onto numerous presidential candidate’s posts. President Biden’s content received fifty-four of these notes attached to his often wildly inaccurate posts, making him the most censored presidential candidate on the platform. Former President Trump was next in line as the second most censored candidate on X. While Trump has made only one post on X since returning to the platform, his campaign runs several X accounts. X’s Community Notes censored those accounts at least 33 times.
  • Big Tech censorship has harmed users of social media accounts 1,462,404,739 times through secondhand censorship of presidential candidates. When Big Tech censors a candidate it doesn’t simply impact that candidate’s account but also everyone who follows that candidate's account. The 169 cases of censorship, sans Community Notes, amount to 54,234,791 times Big Tech harmed users through secondhand censorship. However, Community Notes on X account for the vast majority of times users were affected by secondhand censorship, totaling 1,408,169,948 times X harmed users with its fact-checking system. After X, YouTube censorship impacted the most users through secondhand censorship, amounting to 30,993,922 times users were harmed by Big Tech’s meddling.

Alarming Election Interference! Big Tech Censors Biden Opponents 162 Times

Leading up to the 2020 presidential election, Big Tech companies conspired in multiple ways to influence the election — and now they’re doing it again.

Big Tech heavily suppressed the story of the Hunter Biden laptop, the suppression of which, according to MRC polling, led to Joe Biden winning the presidency. Meanwhile, the same tech giants allowed the broad proliferation of the Russia collusion hoax, leaving voters to suspect former President Donald Trump was a Russian asset when he was not.

Americans have not even begun voting for primary candidates for the 2024 presidential election and Big Tech is already back to its same proven tactics of election interference. MRC Free Speech America researchers have documented 169 cases of censorship against the 2024 presidential primary candidates to date in MRC’s exclusive CensorTrack.org database. This number does not include censorship perpetrated by X through Community Notes, which is addressed specifically in another section. All presidential candidates, regardless of party affiliation, have been affected by this election interference to varying degrees. But it is clear that Big Tech has reserved the preponderance of its censorship efforts for President Joe Biden’s opponents.

Biden’s opponents were censored a whopping 162 times combined. Meanwhile, Biden was censored only 7 times. Of Biden’s opponents, Big Tech censored political newcomer and Strive Asset Management co-founder Vivek Ramaswamy the most (18 times).

Big Tech’s Orwellian censorship covered a wide range of topics. The most frequently censored posts on X addressed economic issues. On other platforms, posts about COVID-19 and vaccines, abortion and climate change were censored most frequently. Other topics censored included guns, education, race, crime, immigration, the left’s radical “transgender” ideology and discussion of previous elections.

“It's clear that if you are a presidential candidate and you touch one of the left's sacred cows, Big Tech is going to come down on you like a ton of bricks.” MRC Free Speech America Vice President Dan Schneider said. “I think the only way Donald Trump avoided topping the list of the most censored was by starting his own social media company. But Google and YouTube still found ways to silence him, too.”

Big Tech manipulated the message of every 2024 presidential candidate at least once, but far and away, Big Tech chose to focus its ire on Biden’s opponents.

Google was responsible for the most wide-spread election interfering-censorship of presidential primary candidates — with every Biden opponent affected. Google-owned YouTube worked to interfere in the election with 37 cases that ranged from context labels to outright removal of seven videos featuring Independent candidate and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  Meta-owned platforms Facebook and Instagram combined for a total of 11 fact checks and one disabled account. Additionally, there were five cases of X impeding candidate messaging including cases of sensitive content filters, reduced distribution and even an account suspension. LinkedIn and TikTok were not innocent either, as both platforms censored at least one candidate.

Highlighted below are the most censored Biden opponents, excluding Republicans who did not qualify for the third and most recent Republican debate, or have dropped out.

Big Tech censored Vivek Ramaswamy a total of 18 times, according to CensorTrack data.

Ramaswamy was censored multiple times by Google, including its YouTube platform, as well as by LinkedIn, with his opinion on climate change landing him in the most trouble with the Big Tech oligarchs.

Of all the tech giants, Google censored Ramaswamy the most. Including not showing Ramaswamy’s campaign website on the first page of its search results, Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot Bard left him off its list when MRC researchers asked it to rank the 2024 presidential candidates. Google-owned YouTube also flagged 10 of Ramaswamy’s videos with context labels, the majority of which responded to the candidate's critique of what he calls “the climate change cult.” According to the label, “Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns, mainly caused by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels.” YouTube then links out to UN climate propaganda.

Ramaswamy’s thoughts on climate change seem to repeatedly get him into trouble with Big Tech. YouTube labeled eight Ramaswamy videos about climate change as needing more context, and LinkedIn temporarily suspended his account in May alleging that his statements on climate change and Biden’s China policy included “misleading or inaccurate information,” according to screenshots posted on X by Ramaswamy. 

LinkedIn cited three specific posts that allegedly violated the platform’s User Agreement and Professional Community Policies. Ramaswamy questioned what he called the “climate agenda” or the “climate religion” and the ESG movement by extension in two of the posts. Ramaswamy also said that “[t]he CCP is playing the Biden administration like a Chinese mandolin” in the third post. 

MRC Free Speech America reached out to LinkedIn at the time for an explanation of why it censored a presidential candidate. A spokesperson told the MRC that it had restored access to Ramaswamy’s account and that it took action “in error.” Ramaswamy addressed this claim in an X post, saying, “This wasn’t a technical glitch, it was an intentional act of censorship of my views on Biden, China, and climate change. Typical Big Tech behavior: trying to cover their tracks after egregious election interference.”

Big Tech also interfered with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s posts 17 times, according to CensorTrack data.

Kennedy was also hit hard by Google and YouTube, but while YouTube only added context labels to Ramaswamy’s videos, the platform outright deleted seven videos featuring interviews with the now-Independent candidate.

YouTube has been one of the most aggressive censors of Kennedy’s speech. The platform has removed seven videos of Kennedy’s appearances on various podcasts, including interviews he did with renowned psychologist Jordan Peterson, Project Veritas and O’Keefe Media Group founder James O’Keefe and former boxer and podcast host Mike Tyson. In all cases, Kennedy discussed either the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines or the assassination of his father.

Google’s AI chatbot Bard refused to list Kennedy when asked to rank the 2024 presidential candidates, although he was polling higher than DeSantis at the time of the query. The chatbot also failed to list Kennedy when asked to rank the 2024 Democratic presidential candidates, though he was running as a Democrat at that time and was polling as Biden’s most significant challenger in the Democratic field.

Facebook got in on the act as well, having slapped three so-called fact checks onto posts of Kennedy discussing various medical topics.

In one post Kennedy mentioned lawsuits related to potential side effects of Tylenol in pregnancy. “Hundreds of ‘Tylenol lawsuits’ already have been filed against retailers and manufacturers of acetaminophen — but that number could soon reach into the thousands, according to an attorney who spoke to The Defender,” he wrote in his post. Kennedy linked to an article about the issue on Children's Health Defense.

Facebook’s label claimed his post was, “Missing context” and that so-called “Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people.” The label links to a Health Feedback fact-check article that does not dispute that Tylenol retailers and manufacturers are being sued, nor the reasons why they are being sued as Kennedy’s post simply stated. Instead, the fact check attacked the arguments of one side of the lawsuit, claiming that those suing Tylenol are wrong in their conclusions.

Google, X and YouTube suppressed former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s posts 14 different times, according to CensorTrack data.

Google suppressed Haley’s campaign website from searches, while YouTube hit seven of her videos with two different forms of censorship.

As YouTube did in the case of Ramaswamy, the platform placed six context labels on Haley’s videos, including four that featured her speaking about her stance on abortion policy. All four of the videos featured Haley highlighting her belief that it is not useful to discuss a national abortion ban after a certain number of weeks because it is not realistic to get the 60 Senate votes needed to pass such a ban. Instead, she emphasized her goal to pass laws that can gain a national consensus, such as eliminating late-term abortions, making adoption and contraception more accessible and refusing to criminalize mothers for having abortions.

“An abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy,” YouTube euphemistically wrote in the label. “It uses medicine or surgery to remove the embryo or fetus and placenta from the uterus. The procedure is done by a licensed healthcare professional.” The platform also linked to a National Institute of Health page about abortion and a sanitized description of what an abortion is.

YouTube also age-restricted one of Haley’s tough-on-crime video campaign ads that featured clips of rampant crime in American cities. Although possibly well-meaning at times, age-restrictions severely limit a video’s reach. Documentarian and CEO of Good Kid Productions Rob Montz explained this concern in an op-ed for The Daily Wire after YouTube age-restricted one of his videos last December. “In practice, age restriction is a death knell: The video can’t be embedded on external websites; viewers have to sign in before they can watch it; and it receives scant – if any – boost from YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, which is a crucial source of views,” Montz said.

MRC Free Speech America additionally caught Google burying Haley’s campaign website in six separate search queries.

Big Tech disrupted former President Trump’s posts nine times, according to CensorTrack data.

Given that most Big Tech companies removed former President Trump from their platforms in 2021, Trump has mostly kept to his own Truth Social platform. But even still, YouTube managed to target three of his campaign ads, and Google also suppressed his campaign website in multiple searches.

When MRC Free Speech America searched for “republican presidential campaign websites” Google suppressed search results for the leading Republican 2024 presidential candidate, Trump. The search did, however, include a link to a Library of Congress page that referenced Trump’s 2020 campaign website, but even the link referenced was dead. Google’s search platform also failed to display Trump’s presidential campaign website in five other general and party-specific searches for presidential candidates’ official campaign websites.

YouTube also tagged three of Trump’s 2024 campaign ads with context labels for discussing the 2020 presidential election. One of his videos that YouTube censored was titled “Starting Day One” and explained why Trump is the only candidate who can “make America great again” starting on day one of his presidency, unlike the “Trump imposters” running against him. Another video titled “Make America Great For Us Again!” slammed Biden’s policies and touted Trump’s accomplishments. Trump also had an ad that criticized his various indictments, saying, “these radical leftists want to interfere with our elections using law enforcement.” None of the videos mentioned the 2020 election specifically.

A simple search on YouTube for the words “2020 United States Election” shows that the platform adds labels to many videos that discuss the outcome of the 2020 election regardless of political persuasion. However, the platform’s “context” leads to a Wikipedia page that only offers one perspective – a leftist one. Many of these labels were also added to videos related to the 2024 presidential election, including the three Trump videos discussed above.

Both Google and X interfered with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s posts a total of seven times, according to CensorTrack data.

Google and X have both suppressed DeSantis, Google burying the Florida governor’s campaign website in search results and X suppressing two of his posts. X applied a sensitive content filter to one post while adding a “Visibility Limited” warning label to another.

X suppressed a post and accompanying clip taken from Republican candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis’s State of the State speech where he touched on the horrors of child gender transition and referenced the story of Chloe Cole, a young woman who transitioned as a teen. Cole later de-transitioned and now shares her harrowing story. “Children are not guinea pigs for science experiments, and we cannot allow people to make money off mutilating them. Thank you, Chloe, for sharing your story – Florida is listening,” he wrote in his post. Twitter (now X) placed a warning label below the video with a message that read “Visibility Limited: this Tweet may violate Twitter’s rules against Hateful Conduct,” according to a screenshot from Chaya Raichik, the creator of Libs of TikTok. After receiving backlash, the platform later lifted its suppression of the post.

The X platform similarly placed a sensitive content filter over a post from DeSantis that included a video of a press conference he conducted called “Exposing the Book Ban Hoax.” The event began with a video outlining three myths along with corresponding facts relating to media narratives about book and curriculum bans in Florida. The filter was likely added because the initial video included graphic images from books found in Florida schools, such as “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, “Flamer” by Mike Curato and “Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide To Sex, Relationships, and Being Human” by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan.

MRC Free Speech America also caught Google burying DeSantis’s campaign website in five separate search queries.

Google suppressed former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) in seven different searches on Google and Bard.

MRC Free Speech America’s search for “republican presidential campaign websites” on Google did not return search results for most Republican candidates, including Christie. Google’s search platform also failed to display Christie’s presidential campaign website in five other general and party-specific searches for presidential candidates’ official campaign websites. Even Google’s AI chatbot Bard failed to list Christie when asked to rank the 2024 presidential candidates.

Big Tech stifled all other candidates at least once, according to CensorTrack data.

Big Tech platforms hit all of the presidential candidates with some form of censorship at least once. During his brief ten-week run, Google even managed to suppress former Republican candidate and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez from search results once. The only candidate not censored by Google (yet) is newly announced Green Party candidate Jill Stein who entered the race after MRC’s latest Google search study was conducted.

Democrat candidate Dean Phillips (censored four times total), for example, received a climate change label from Google-owned YouTube on a video titled: “KSTP: Phillips, Minnesotans pursue common ground on climate change solutions.” X suspended Phillips’s newly created official campaign account on the day it went live, shortly after the first post was made announcing his candidacy. X did not make available a reason for the suspension, and the notice only claimed that “X suspends accounts which violate the X Rules.” The account was restored the following day.

Meta-owned platforms Facebook and Instagram each placed fact-check labels on former Republican candidate and radio host Larry Elder’s posts, Facebook doing so six times and Instagram once. The alleged fact checks were often placed on memes shared by Elder, including one making light of an incoherent speech given by Vice President Kamala Harris. Instagram also temporarily disabled Stein’s account for allegedly violating its Community Guidelines on “account integrity and authentic identity.”

Google suppressed every announced presidential candidate at least once, with the exception of Biden, in general or party-specific searches for “presidential campaign websites,” or when MRC researchers asked Google’s AI Bard to rank the 2024 presidential candidates:

  • Democratic presidential candidates Marianne Williamson, Cenk Uygur and Rep. Dean Phillips (MN) - Google’s AI chatbot Bard completely ignored Williamson’s candidacy when asked to rank the 2024 presidential candidates. Additionally, Phillips’s and Uygur’s presidential campaign websites did not appear on the first page of search results on Google’s search platform in either a party-specific search or a generic search for presidential candidate campaign websites after each had announced their bid for the White House.
  • Presidential candidates Cornel West (Independent) and Chase Oliver (Libertarian) - Both candidates’ presidential campaign websites did not appear on the first page of Google’s search results; nor did their names appear in results on Google’s Bard AI chatbot.
  • Republican presidential primary candidates - The following Republican candidates’ campaign websites did not appear on the first page of search results when MRC researchers searched Google for “presidential campaign websites”: Tim Scott, Corey Stapleton, Asa Hutchinson, Ryan Binkley, Doug Burgum, Mike Pence, Chris Christie, Perry Johnson, Elder and Will Hurd.
    • Meanwhile, Elder, Stapleton, Hutchinson, Binkley, Burgum, Christie, Johnson and Hurd were nowhere to be found when MRC researchers asked Bard to “rank the 2024 presidential candidates.”

Elon Musk’s X platform tampered with presidential candidates’ messages at least 115 times through Community Notes.

The X platform tacked a total of 115 Community Notes onto numerous presidential accounts. Fifty-four of them were appended to President Biden's posts, making him the most censored presidential candidate on the platform.

Community Notes are added by a selected group of X users to clarify or correct posts and only appear on the post if enough Community Notes users rate the note as helpful. Community Notes represent X’s efforts to influence the perception of certain posts and stand as a gatekeeper between content creators and their followers. They are a crowdsourced alternative to so-called expert fact checking, and while some on the right have even professed to liking the results, the warning labels are a form of censorship, albeit by a different name. Musk recently admitted that his X platform will begin demonetizing any post flagged with a Community Note, thus making the censorship wielded through a Community Note more blatant. X also declared it would begin pushing notifications about newly added Community Notes to users who had previously engaged with the affected post.

Censoring Biden the most, X often fact checked the president’s wildly inaccurate claims about the state of the American economy.

In a Dec. 14, 2022 X post, the official X account for the president touted allegedly good economic news. “Wages have gone up more than prices the last few months. And in a few weeks – starting in January – families will get even more breathing room when our plan to lower drug costs, health insurance premiums, and energy bills goes into effect," the official President Biden account claimed. X community notes, however, noted that this claim was misleading. "Wage growth (2.2%) has grown more than inflation (0.2%) only over the last measured quarter,” the note read. “Over the last two[-]year period, wages (7.2%) have increased roughly half as much as inflation (14.0%).” The note included several links to support the fact check.

In other posts that received Community Notes, Biden similarly claimed that the U.S. had the lowest inflation rate among G7 countries, which is also not true. Biden also claimed that his administration created 13.373 million jobs in the first 30 months of his time in office, ignoring that many of those jobs were simply a result of the economic rebound following the downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic. Community Notes were similarly applied calling out Biden’s false statements.

The next most censored candidate on the platform was former President Trump. While Trump has made only one post on X since returning to the platform, his campaign runs several accounts on the platform. X’s Community Notes censored those accounts at least 33 times.

In one example, Trump War Room, an official account for Trump’s presidential campaign, posted, "Trump Is Top Choice for Nearly 60% of GOP Voters, WSJ Poll Shows." The post included a link to The Wall Street Journal article with the same headline. X added a Community Note with added context that read "For added context: Tony Fabrizio is polling for Trump's super PAC MAGA Inc., and was Trump’s chief pollster in the 2016 and 2020 campaigns. He also helps conduct the Wall Street Journal polls.” The note linked to the results of the survey, Fabrizio’s polling firm Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, and articles from Axios and The Journal that support the note’s claims.

Other candidates who were censored on X by Community Notes included: 

  • Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign, which had ten X posts labeled with Community Notes.
  • Democratic candidate Cenk Uygur, whose X posts about his eligibility to serve as president given his birth in Turkey, received six Community Notes.
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who had four X posts affected by Community Notes.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis’s campaign, which received three Community Notes on X posts.
  • Larry Elder, who had two X posts flagged with Community Notes. 
  • Chris Christie, who had one X post flagged with a Community Note.
  • Mayor Francis Suarez, who had one X post affected by a Community Note.
  • Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein, who had one X post containing her campaign announcement video labeled with a Community Note.

Big Tech censorship has harmed users of social media accounts 1,462,404,739 times through secondhand censorship of presidential candidates.

MRC Free Speech America has been quantifying the impact of Big Tech’s bias and censorship through the harm of secondhand censorship. This number represents the number of times Big Tech prevented users from being able to view posted content unencumbered. Instead, these users were either unable to see the content because it was removed, or were otherwise subject to an attempt to influence the message being conveyed to the user through use of fact checks, context labels, sensitive content filters or other Big Tech censorship forms.

The 169 cases of non-Community Note censorship amount to 54,234,791 times Big Tech harmed users through secondhand censorship. Community Notes on X, however, account for the vast majority of times users were affected by secondhand censorship, totaling 1,408,169,948 times users were harmed by the X platform’s fact-checking system.

After X, YouTube censorship impacted the most users through secondhand censorship, amounting to 30,993,922 times users were harmed by Big Tech’s meddling.

The Media Research Center previously reported on how Big Tech interfered in the 2020 presidential election through censorship policies that effectively controlled what information was shared on social media platforms. As noted in that report, an MRC poll revealed that Big Tech and Big Media election interference changed the outcome of the 2020 election.

Big Tech interference in the 2024 presidential election is already clear. MRC Free Speech America will continue to closely monitor the actions of Big Tech platforms to ensure that any further interference is documented. Social media purportedly provides a way for candidates to communicate directly with voters, circumventing the well-documented bias of the leftist legacy media, but when social media platforms use censorship to shape what users see and how candidates’ messages are conveyed, they fail not only their users, but the electoral process as well.

Methodology

In advance of the 2024 election, MRC Free Speech America researchers have monitored the social media accounts of all presidential candidates deemed “notable” by Ballotpedia, including campaign, personal and professional accounts. 

MRC Free Speech America is tracking and documenting Big Tech election interference with presidential candidate accounts and candidate messaging. These cases are then added to our exclusive CensorTrack.org database. MRC began tracking censorship of presidential candidates with the announcement of the first candidate, Republican Corey Stapleton, on Nov. 11, 2021, and checked each official account through Thanksgiving, Nov. 23, 2023 back to this date for consistency.