The Media Research Center has launched CensorTrack, a website dedicated to #FreeSpeechAmerica, a campaign designed to fight online censorship of conservatives.
“Our position is that if they can do it to the president of the United States, they can do it to anyone, and in fact that is exactly what is happening… every platform in Silicon Valley today is censoring conservatives,” MRC founder and president Brent Bozell told attendees of a virtual launch event on Sept. 17.
“We’re going to be coordinating our effort with those on Capitol Hill, trying to work in a bipartisan manner to take our concerns,” Bozell added.
MRC vice president Dan Gainor said CensorTrack.org is the “first initiative of Free Speech America” and will feature analysis of tech companies, a look at fact-checkers, an examination of specific censorship issues, a breakdown of politicians, pundits and media figures who help the tech industry censor conservatives, and potential remedies.
“We’ve gone back to the basics and are working actively, proving the problem. We’ve done that by creating an archive of incidents of bias, as well as a resource for people interested in the issue or writing about it,” Gainor said.
“What we are seeing in the tech world right now is the greatest danger and encroachment to freedom of expression and thought, I think, in the history of our country,” First Liberty Institute CEO Kelly Shackelford said. “Tech companies are now an information highway, common couriers. And they control this information, and they’re engaging in extensive censorship.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., attended the virtual launch event, telling listeners that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) should not be used as “an opaque shield” by the tech industry.
Section 230 states that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
The section has been pivotal in the rise of today’s social media giants by allowing not only Internet service providers – but also Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others – to be shielded from liability from content posted on their platforms by third parties, in most cases.
“Critics says Section 230 gives tech companies too much power over what is and is not allowed on their sites. Supporters – including a wide range of Internet companies, free-speech advocates and open-Internet proponents – say that without the law, online communication would be stifled and social media as we know it would cease to exist,” Washington Post’s Rachel Lerman wrote earlier this year.
Blackburn plans to take action, although Section 230 has many defenders in its current state, and President Trump’s attempts to alter how social media platforms are regulated have been met with resistance.
“What we are doing with Section 230 reform is clarifying who can use it, when they use it, how they are going to use it, and what it can apply to. And we’re changing language, removing that otherwise objectionable language that has caused or allowed big tech to say, ‘Well we find this, that or the other objectionable,’” Blackburn said.
Bozell agreed, telling attendees that Section 230 needs to be addressed.
“We are going to be advancing the ideas of Section 230. We think it’s time for this to be addressed. These are not impartial platforms, these are publishers and they have to be taken into account,” he said.