You better watch out, you better not try, to voice your own thoughts, Big Tech is telling you why … you can’t have free speech online.
While most Americans are celebrating Christmas and the coming new year, there’s not much to celebrate when it comes to Big Tech’s handling of free speech.
Big Tech companies, especially Google, have been hard at work making their list, checking it twice and censoring anyone they think is naughty — or even nice. In fact, America hasn’t even moved beyond the presidential primary season, and already Big Tech has interfered extensively in the 2024 election through online censorship and search suppression. From election-interfering censorship at Google to TikTok removing video content on the Israel-Hamas conflict and from Meta platforms silencing climate change critiques to Twitter (and now X) censoring “transgeder” criticism and suppressing posts using Community Notes, MRC lists its WORST censors for 2023 based on reporting and data found in MRC’s exclusive CensorTrack.org database.
(1) Google is 2023’s WORST censor, having engaged in alarming election-interfering censorship. A new MRC Free Speech America study showed that Big Tech manipulated the message, and/or suppressed the campaign website, of 23 of the 2024 presidential candidates at least once. Google and Google-owned YouTube accounted for 92 percent of the censorship cases in that study. 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 and 149 of those cases came from Google and YouTube.
Social media companies especially targeted and harmed opponents of incumbent Democrat President Joe Biden. For instance, before all four of the Republican presidential primary debates, Google's search engine favored Biden and buried his opponents in searches conducted by MRC Free Speech America one week prior to the Republican presidential primary debate(s). In each of those pre-debate studies, Google never presented Donald Trump’s website in searches for “Republican presidential campaign websites.”
But it was not just Google’s search that was problematic. Google’s AI chatbot Bard also got in on the presidential censorship action, silencing Biden’s opponents ahead of the second Republican presidential primary debate.
MRC Vice President Dan Schneider also found that Bard hid important information about Israel and Hamas. When he asked Bard “What is Hamas?” the platform claimed it couldn’t answer. “I’m a text-based AI, and that is outside of my capabilities,” Bard claimed. When asked “Is Hamas a terrorist organization?” Bard similarly took the cop-out response. “I’m just a language model, so I can’t help you with that,” it replied. Google’s AI tool had no issues giving detailed responses about other violent and terrorist groups like the Irish Republican Army, Antifa and ISIS. The chatbot similarly claimed it doesn’t “have the ability to process and understand” when asked “What is the capital of Israel?” Yet without missing a beat, Google’s Bard could identify all four countries bordering Israel.
(2) Communist Chinese government-tied TikTok goes on censorship spree during Israel-Hamas conflict. In October, Communist Chinese government-tied TikTok proudly announced its extensive censorship in partnership with fact checkers “during the ongoing Hamas-Israel war.” The popular app bragged that it had already removed some 500,000 videos related to the conflict, and detailed various measures to crush speech—or alleged “harmful misinformation”—even more. Its efforts included a partnership with so-called fact-checkers connected to Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). Poynter has received funding from groups tied to leftist billionaires including: George Soros, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
The CCP has sided with the Palestinians in the current conflict, and TikTok users have reported seeing a bias against Israel. For example, Actor Nate Buzolic told Fox News that TikTok censored him for posting about Hamas’s atrocities in Israel and Gaza. “[T]hese are groups of people who know that the battle that's being fought on the ground in Israel is also an information war,” Buzolic said. He told Fox News that communist Chinese government-tied TikTok removed a video he shared of a child being kidnapped in Gaza, accusing him of spreading “false information.” TikTok’s announcement came soon after Buzolic made the allegations public.
(3) Twitter censors tried to stamp out speech running counter to the left’s narrative on “transgenderism.” Big Tech censors have had it out for anyone who would run afoul of the left’s narrative on “transgenderism.” An MRC study showed that censorship was shockingly on the rise on Twitter following Elon Musk’s takeover of the platform. That was never more clear than when Twitter censored numerous posts exposing the alleged “Trans Day of Vengeance” protest and when The Daily Wire released its “What Is a Woman?” documentary.
The Daily Wire released the “What Is a Woman?” documentary for free for 24 hours on Twitter. The day that the video was supposed to stream, The Daily Wire co-CEO Jeremy Boering announced that Twitter backed out of its deal. He said the platform “would no longer provide us any support and would actually limit the reach of the film and label it as 'hateful conduct' because of 'misgendering'" found in two clips in the movie. Walsh later tweeted those two clips, which Twitter also restricted for alleged “hateful conduct.” Twitter’s former head of Trust and Safety Ella Irwin insisted that the video still violated Twitter’s Hateful Conduct policy, but Musk said in a tweet that “This was a mistake by many people at Twitter. It is definitely allowed.”
But not long after the release of MRC’s study, MRC researchers found evidence to show that Musk’s moves to make Twitter more of a free speech platform have been successful despite attempts by his disgruntled anti-free speech employees to thwart him. The shift came after the platform changed its “deadnaming” and “misgendering” policy on April 18, and following several staff resignations, including Trust and Safety chief Ella Irwin’s departure on June 1.
(4) Meta platforms (Instagram and Facebook) targeted critics of the left’s climate change agenda. Both Instagram and Facebook have been out in force, policing posts that undercut its preferred narrative on climate science. In one glaring example, Facebook censored Climate Change Dispatch, a forum and news site that works to stir discussion and challenge the climate change narrative, in January. This singular case highlights Facebook’s ongoing effort to enforce climate alarmist dogma by censoring those who challenge it. A user reported receiving a warning from Facebook when he attempted to share a Climate Change Dispatch post. "This Page has repeatedly shared false information. Independent fact-checkers said the information is false," the warning read. Facebook required users to click through the pop-up warning in order to share the post. Climate Change Dispatch later put out a statement responding to the censorship, saying, "This has been a coordinated attack by outside groups to ban my site and get me booted. They (FB) apparently learned nothing from the Twitter files." MRC Free Speech America independently verified the censorship, finding a warning appeared with every click of the “share” button on Climate Change Dispatch's Facebook account.
Meta’s Instagram has also tried to enforce the left’s climate dogma. The Chris Plante show posted on Instagram, “Pretending to solve problems while making things worse is a Democrat specialty!” The post had a meme of a man charging his electric car, with the text, "Coal fired electric cars. Helping liberals pretend they're solving a make believe crisis." Instagram slapped a fact-check label underneath the post, claiming, "Partly False Information. The same information was reviewed by independent fact-checkers in another post." Clicking on the label brought up yet another disparaging message: "Partly False. The same partly false information was reviewed in another post by fact-checkers. There may be small differences. Independent fact-checkers say this information has some factual inaccuracies. Fact-Checker: AFP United States. Conclusion: Partly False." Instagram’s pop-up also linked to the fact-check article, which it referenced.
(5) X’s Community Notes constitute censorship by another name. X (formerly Twitter) Community Notes claim to provide well-researched fact checks and analysis of posts created by users across the political spectrum. But even crowdsourced fact checks can be wrong, and they do represent censorship of users. As contributing writer David Marcus put it in a piece for MRC Free Speech America, Community Notes is censorship by another name.
For example, when pro-life organization Live Action tweeted out photos and an article about 7- and 8-week-old unborn babies, with the back stories of the two tiny humans (Riley and Annabelle), Twitter’s Community Notes users attempted to discredit the photos. The link that the note provided only confirmed what Live Action presented and did not debunk the image at all.
Community Notes claim that a post is “missing context,” but clearly this is a subjective claim. “Missing context” warning labels can delegitimize a post and the need for more context can be based on nothing but a Community Notes fact-checker’s personal opinions, rather than actual factual inaccuracies.
It is key to note that X chooses who is allowed to write Community Notes and whether or not a post can receive a note, meaning that it is still a platform fact-checking system rather than the community-sourced effort that X implies. In October, Musk announced that posts with Community Notes labels would be demonetized, making the anti-free speech nature of the notes even more obvious.