Techdirt Podcast Episode 203: Crying Wolf Over Conservative Censorship

from the conspiracy-theory dept

You've heard the uproar — conservatives are being censored on social media! But... are they? The short answer is no. The long answer is this week's podcast, with Lincoln Network policy head Zach Graves joining us for a discussion about the misinformation, hyperbole and general ridiculousness surrounding supposed social media bias.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

Filed Under: censorship, moderation, podcast, social media
Companies: facebook, google, twitter, youtube


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2019 @ 2:44pm

    The bias is real. The tech companies have even admitted to this bias. Any popular conservative already knows this since they've experienced it firsthand.

    Big tech has a political-ideology monopoly which needs to be broken up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2019 @ 2:51pm

    Snowflake Conservatives

    Snowflake conservatives are just whining because they can not accept the truth that stating there are only two genders is something only a Nazi would do.

    People who advocate for white genocide, threaten to kill those scummy Covington Catholics, or make statements to Uncle Tom blacks, that would be racist against a good liberal, are just being good citizens and deserve there place on social media.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 12 Mar 2019 @ 3:16pm

      Re: Snowflake Conservatives

      white genocide

      Found the Nazi!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 12:46am

        Re: Re: Snowflake Conservatives

        Given that what Elliott Ness and the US Treasury Department did to Al Capone meets the over-broad UN definition of genocide, it doesn't take a Nazi to notice the current trend that seems determined to give white people the same treatment by society that Jews did in early-20th century Europe.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2019 @ 3:27pm

      Re: Snowflake Conservatives

      Now now, these liberals' parents have bribed admissions counselors at the nation's best schools to make sure they are better educated than us "dumb" conservatives!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2019 @ 4:25pm

        Re: Re: Womp Womp

        I’m sonrry sir. I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Your strawman exploded and is quite a trip hazard for the actual adults in the room.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2019 @ 6:28pm

        Re: Re: Snowflake Conservatives

        It's only the libs that do such things .. amirite?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Prinny, 12 Mar 2019 @ 5:09pm

    I think Mike's and Zack's dismissal of the Twitter bias study was just a bit too glib, dood. What they said about them being banned for bad behavior may well be true, from a certain point of view, but it's only really credible if the rules are applied universally and consistently. Which, as Mike loves to point out, can't possibly be true because of the difficulties of content moderation at scale.

    Therefore, we must necessarily conclude that the rules are applied selectively, dood. The behaviors described, racism, harassment, doxxing, slurs, out-and-out trolling, etc are just as prevalent on the Left as on the Right, if not more so. So we should be seeing extreme-left rabble-rousers being banned at approximately the same rate as the extreme-right ones, dood! The fact that we don't suggests that bias does indeed exist, and that the stated reasons for the extreme-right guys getting banned wasn't the reason so much as the excuse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2019 @ 5:19pm

      Re:

      "The behaviors described, racism, harassment, doxxing, slurs, out-and-out trolling, etc are just as prevalent on the Left as on the Right, if not more so"

      Prove it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 12:52am

        Re: Re:

        One word: Antifa.

        In more words: Claiming that criticizing Obama for his politics, lies or crimes in office is racism is either an attempt at propaganda or -- if the speaker truly believes it to be true -- a particularly vicious form of racism in itself. Why? Because if you look at a person and think the only possible reason to dislike them is skin color, then you are seeing nothing of them but that skin color.

        Humans are argumentative sorts, we can find any number of reasons to dislike someone, or even none at all. We've all met someone we just plain don't like, with no reason for it. But saying that the only reason to dislike someone is skin color, despite all of human nature? Racism.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 5:34am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Exactly!

          You know what the difference is between a fascist and an "anti-fascist"? It's a lot like the difference between matter and anti-matter. Scientists tell us they're exactly the same in every possible way, except for a few specific aspects in which they're exactly the same except for being oriented in the polar opposite direction. And when they mix with each other, you get a violent explosion.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 8:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ah, exactly the sort of non-proof you can expect from people who think anecdotes are evidence.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 11:08am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So no then.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2019 @ 6:29pm

      Re:

      You fail at logic

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2019 @ 7:19pm

      Re:

      The behaviors described, racism, harassment, doxxing, slurs, out-and-out trolling, etc are just as prevalent on the Left as on the Right, if not more so.

      Citation needed on that one, dood.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 12:25am

      Re:

      LOL. You're not a serious person.

      Therefore, we must necessarily conclude that the rules are applied selectively, dood.

      No "dood," that's not how evidence or logic works.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 4:12am

        Re: Re:

        Isn't it? The point that if it's impossible to consistently apply the rules to everyone equally and impartially due to the scale involved, then therefore someone must necessarily be choosing who to apply them to, sure looks logically valid to me!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Rocky, 13 Mar 2019 @ 6:20am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Isn't it? The point that if it's impossible to consistently apply the rules to everyone equally and impartially due to the scale involved, then therefore someone must necessarily be choosing who to apply them to, sure looks logically valid to me!

          Your logic is weak. Given your first statement it is NOT given that someone must be choosing who to apply the rules to. The rules may for example only be applied to accounts that's has a lot of followers/views etc which invalidates your statement that someone has to decide.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Prinny, 13 Mar 2019 @ 8:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Your point doesn't refute the AC's argument, dood. It just moves it back a step. If the rules aren't being applied manually by some sort of admin, they're being applied automatically by a banning algorithm of some sort... which is acting according to the rules that some person programmed it to follow. The fact that we see biased results still implies biased rules, dood!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Rocky, 13 Mar 2019 @ 7:27pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The fact that we see biased results still implies biased rules.

              No, it can also imply that the ones making the study are biased, the data used in the study where biased or those who look at the result are biased.

              Either way, the twitter bias study failed to take a lot of variables into consideration and the article explaining it ended with a bunch of anecdotes.

              The study failed to take into consideration the behavior of people on the left and people on the right for example. Conservatives on the right has stronger opinions about their polar opposites than vice versa which may well play into the language used which got them suspended/banned.

              Also, the study had a total of 43 data-points which makes any conclusions drawn from it very uncertain.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Prinny, 13 Mar 2019 @ 8:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Technically, to be a proper logical syllogism you need to explicitly state the second premise, dood. If the rules can't be applied universally and consistently, and they are being applied to some accounts, then it necessarily follows that they are being applied inconsistently and selectively.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JMT (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 2:31pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Your logic is not valid. If I throw a handful of sand at a crowd of people, that fact that I did not hit everyone with the same amount of sand does not suggest I deliberately aimed at the people I did hit.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2019 @ 7:04pm

    Such Guilt

    Wow so many people jump out to complain and a bet none of them even listened to the podcast. Is that... uninformed bias?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jnuts1 (profile), 12 Mar 2019 @ 7:45pm

    sad

    I am have a hard time with this nonsense on techdirt. I really like this site for being objective but not so much anymore. its pretty easy to use the google machine to look up say facebook employees admit to bias and a TON of article from the NYtimes USAtoday Washington times all legit publications pop right up. literally Facebook admitted employees rigged sh!t and most everyone here straight up says it's not true. Jack Dorsey admitted that conservative employees do not feel safe to express their opinions. he even admits they are biased but it doesn't seep into content. sure. did anyone listen to the JRE Twitter podcast? they are either biased or seriously ignorant about all of the hypocrisy that was laid out for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2019 @ 9:25pm

      Re: sad

      Well thanks for registering just to bore us to tears with your half formed strawman arguments. Don’t let the super biased liberal door hit your ass on the way out.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        jnuts1 (profile), 12 Mar 2019 @ 10:00pm

        Re: Re: sad

        I've been reading for years.

        are you saying facebook and twitter did not admit to these things? or that the comment section is totally objective here?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 8:47am

          Re: Re: Re: sad

          are you saying facebook and twitter did not admit to these things?

          Who had "make an assertion with no evidence and then demand that anyone who disagrees with you prove a negative" on their Bingo card?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            jnuts1 (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 10:00am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: sad

            jack the CEO of twitter is on record on the JRE podcast saying all of that is true. and there are countless articles about facebook admitting it's employees messed with trending results.

            anyone that says that's not true or I need a citation probably needs to do a little research which they/you can do without my help.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 11:11am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: sad

              The proof was in the podcast. You were just asleep.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 11:38am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: sad

              anyone that says that's not true or I need a citation probably needs to do a little research which they/you can do without my help.

              Nope, that's all on you. The one who presents a claim is the one with the responsibility to back it up, and refusal to do so is grounds to ignore the claim as baseless, per Hitchen's Razor.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 6:21pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: sad

                Context is everything. If I was talking to a grade schooler about mathematics, I'd expect to have to explain the Pythagorean Theorem. If I was talking with an adult who was trying to appear knowledgeable about math, I'd expect them to understand such common-knowledge basics, and if they said the burden was on me to explain the Pythagorean Theorem, I'd be quite within my rights to think they were either being a total bozo or deliberately trolling me.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 6:33pm

                  Hitchen's Razor it is then

                  So much wasted text when you could have simply typed in 'I don't like the burden of proof, so I'm going to try(and fail) to get you to bear it.'

                  Seriously, do the people who use that tactic ever realize just how badly it undermines them, or do they actually think that doubling down on refusing to provide evidence for their claims somehow makes those claims more, rather than less, believable?

                  If you actually think that attempting to dodge the burden of proof like that strengthens the claim then I'm sorry to say that you're wrong, on everything, and if you want evidence of this you can find it yourself because it's clearly obvious if you can be bothered to look.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 7:50pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: sad

                  You'd be surprised how often people need to have Pythagoras explained to them.

                  Granted, it's a little mathematical quirk that doesn't have immediate, visible relevance for many people.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2019 @ 10:45pm

      Re: sad

      If you don't like the site anymore, why are you still reading it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 12:16am

      Re: sad

      Think I'm going to need a [Citation Needed] for... all of that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 12:24am

      Re: sad

      I am have a hard time with this nonsense on techdirt

      Nonsense?

      its pretty easy to use the google machine to look up say facebook employees admit to bias and a TON of article from the NYtimes USAtoday Washington times all legit publications pop right up. literally Facebook admitted employees rigged sh!t and most everyone here straight up says it's not true.

      You are misreading what those stories were about. There was a highly exaggerated article quoting a disgruntled ex-employee who claimed they rigged the "trending" section that almost no one reads. This was widely disputed by the rest of the team. It also had nothing to do with the newsfeed, which is one people claim is biased. Nor did it have anything to do with content moderation choices.

      Your "evidence" is not good. It's not evidence at all.

      Jack Dorsey admitted that conservative employees do not feel safe to express their opinions.

      Again, we said in the podcast -- which you have now admitted to not listening to, that employees in SF tend to lean ideologically in one direction (though, less than people like yourself tend to think). But there is no evidence of them using that in content moderation decisions. The whole point of the podcast was to discuss EVIDENCE.

      You have not shown any other than misreading a story not unlike the stories that we discussed in the podcast.

      And you call it "nonsense."

      Sorry man, but when facts go against your faith-based belief, it's not nonsense. It's reality.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 4:57am

        Re: Re: sad

        Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        jnuts1 (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 7:34am

        Re: Re: sad

        no I listened to your self-righteous podcast. you could have a killer career on NPR putting people to sleep.

        jack admits to bias so pervasive his employees don't feel safe. he said something like 85% are liberal. that's a pretty large percentage probably more than people like you tend to think... he also stated that liberals get zero info from anywhere other than liberal media. they have done studies on this internally at twitter and confirmed. facebook admitted that employees of the trending department skewed results. but but but the algorithm flags everyone equally..... that doesn't mean they apply the rules evenly after that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 11:13am

          Re: Re: Re: sad

          Sorry I fell asleep trying to read your brain drool. Did you have any evidence to back up your point? No? Didn’t think so.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 14 Mar 2019 @ 12:14am

          Re: Re: Re: sad

          Repeating the false and misleading claims you made in the original comment are not evidence. Well, they're evidence you don't have any actual evidence.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Mar 2019 @ 8:12pm

    I wonder which opinion is more likely to get a self-identified conservative booted from social media:

    • "I want to shrink the power and size of the federal government."

    • "I want to legalize discrimination against LGBT people."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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