Billionaire Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, has lately been busy spending money on causes apparently near and dear to his heart: first he gave $100,000 to the Biden campaign, and $35,000 to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) – and then funded a study that claims Big Tech is not biased against conservative views.
The New York University Stern School of Business study appeared on Monday and was put together with the goal of disproving long-standing claims of creeping anti-conservative bias on social media, that culminated around the US presidential election.
But those “studying the study” have now found evidence that the paper, entitled, “False Accusation: The Unfounded Claim that Social Media Companies Censor Conservatives,” was bankrolled by Newmark, a major Democratic Party supporter. This cast doubt on the credibility of the claims.
And the results are as the title suggests: that social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook made “reasonable decisions” when they banned President Trump, and that Twitter was right to try to suppress the Hunter Biden story that broke on the New York Post (although Twitter itself seemed to disagree when they eventually opted against silencing investigative journalism.)
Above all, the narrative and justification behind much of online censorship in recent months and years has been the declarative need to control “misinformation”; the study now proclaims that those finding bias in Big Tech’s behavior are themselves spreading misinformation for thinking and expressing this.
“The false bias narrative is an example of political disinformation, meaning an untrue assertion that is spread to deceive. In this instance, the deception whips up part of the conservative base, much of which already bitterly distrusts the mainstream media,” says the study, seemingly promoting the idea of establishing accepted political truths that cannot be challenged, and of mainstream media as the only acceptable distributor of these “truths.”
Another point that the study’s authors Paul M. Barrett and J. Grant Sims made the need to set up a “Digital Regulatory Agency” whose job would be to institutionalize what one might call “the war on wrongthink” on social media.
Meanwhile, the assertion that conservative voices do not suffer online bias is based on the study’s authors citing web traffic that conservative news sites continue to receive from Facebook.
But, as a Facebook exec told Business Insider last summer, “conservative sites perform well in terms of engagement” – but liberal ones “outperform in terms of ‘reach'” – i.e., in how many Facebook users actually see their content on the platform itself.