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Monday, July 10, 2023
MRC Trots Out Bogus, Made-Up 'Secondhand Censorship' Numbers Again
Topic: Media Research Center

"Secondhand censorship" is a completely made-up and meaningless metric, but that's not going to keep the Media Research Center from treating it with gravitas, if only because it generates absurdly huge, clickbait-worthy numbers it can promote to advance its right-wing victimhood narrative. A May 10 post by Heather Moon and Gabriela Pariseau promoted the latest manufactured numbers:

Big Tech has sent conservatives a clear message through its outrageous censorship practices: There is no room for worldviews that contradict the leftist version of reality, and real people are being harmed as a result.

Since MRC Free Speech America began tracking secondhand censorship in the first quarter of 2022, we have counted a total of 396,571,484 times that users have been harmed through the silencing tactics used by Big Tech platforms. And the year 2023 is off to a much worse start than most of 2022. MRC Free Speech America researchers recorded 363 documented cases of censorship in the first quarter (Q1) of 2023, which amounted to 82,249,700 times Big Tech harmed users. That’s more than triple the fourth quarter of 2022 when Big Tech harmed users 25,280,704 times by keeping information from them.

Several notable issues raised the ire of Big Tech companies in Q1 2023 more than others. Most notably, Big Tech censors targeted content regarding “transgenderism,” COVID-19 vaccines and the January 6, 2021 events at the U.S. Capitol. In particular, Big Tech made it a point of going after efforts by conservatives to bring attention to the infamous so-called “Trans Day of Vengeance.”

Big Tech’s 82,249,700 times of keeping information from social media users in the first quarter follows the 314,321,784 tallied times that users were harmed through secondhand censorship in all of 2022. Nearly half of the 2022 number was just in the first quarter alone at 158,641,918. In Q2 of 2022, the figure was down to 62,030,798, and by Q4, MRC Free Speech America counted 25,280,704 times users were harmed by Big Tech, who kept them from seeing information they had deliberately requested to see by following censored user accounts.

Moon and Pariseau are lying. Nobody was "harmed by Big Tech" because of content moderation, which they dishonestly insist is "censorship." And in case it wasn't already clear that the metric is a partisan tool and not a scientific one, note the subjects Moon and Pariseau focus on: the Capitol riot, COVID vaccines and "transgenderism" (complete with scare quotes). On the first item, they complained that Tucker Carlson's cherry-picked riot footage -- which dishonestly portrayed things as much more benign than they actually were -- saw reducted exposure:

Fox News host Tucker Carlson devoted several of his Fox News programs to this issue as he was granted access to previously unreleased security footage taken on January 6. Facebook slapped the page with fact-checks at least two times when the Tucker Carlson Tonight page posted video from his evening show discussing what his team found in some of that footage, labeling them both “Partly false information.”

Additionally, the Glenn Beck Facebook page posted a link to a clip from his radio program in which he discussed Carlson’s findings. Facebook’s fact-checkers labeled this video “Partly false information” as well.

Moon and Pariseau didn't dispute the accuracy of the fact-checker's assessment, nor did they explain why readers shouldn't have been alerted to the videos' dishonesty. That's because they appear to be Capitol riot truthers themselves, given their laughable reference to "the politburo-styled Jan. 6 Committee."

On the COVID front, Moon and Pariseau claimed:

Undercover journalism outlet Project Veritas took a major blow from Big Tech over this issue when it released a series of videos allegedly showing a Pfizer executive speaking about its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Multiple platforms, including YouTube, Google, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter censored the outlet. The total harm to users across the five platforms amounted to at least 7,923,000 times Big Tech prevented users from viewing Project Veritas’ exposé.

Again, they failed to mention that the video has been debunked or explain why those platforms must be forced to make misinformation available.

On the "transgenderism" issue, Moon and Pariseau began by huffing that "Big Tech has been targeting content that refuses to affirm the unreality of so-called “transgender” ideology for some time." They didn't explain why they put "transgender" in scare quotes or how a person's identity is an "ideology."  They then rehashed fretting that right-wing rants about a planned "Transgender Day of Vengeance" were removed -- but they censored the fact that Twitter stated it blocked all tweets posting a flyer of the (ultimately canceled) event regardless of the ideology of those posting it.But the important thing for Moon and Pariseau is that the incident goosed its metric: "The 'Trans Day of Vengeance' censorship event alone accounted for no less than 14 million times that users were harmed from Big Tech censorship."

Moon and Pariseau concluded by invoking a serial misinformer:

Even Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. noted that censorship is “a direct assault on our democracy.” He further explained that “without free speech, democracy just withers and dies,” while “democracy’s advantage is that through the free flow of information, the best policies can triumph in the marketplace of ideas.”

The longer that national policymakers wait to take action against the grave threat posed by Big Tech censorship, the more that our American republic and free speech are threatened.

MRC Free Speech America calls on the American public to push tech companies to end their authoritarian suppression of viewpoints.

They didn't mention that Kennedy is an anti-vaxx conspiracy theorist -- and they still didn't explain why they demand that lies and misinformation must never be countered.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:55 PM EDT

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