Martin Mawyer, president, Christian Action Network
Someday in the future, someone is going to read this article and say, “There it was all along. The warning. The plot. How did we ever miss it?”
It won’t be that person’s fault for not getting the message sooner. Heck, finding articles with a conservative point of view, especially ones that expose Silicon Valley plots, is nearly impossible anyway.
But things are about to get worse – far worse – for consumers of conservative news. It is already happening, in a way that few are even noticing or talking about.
Like all dictators, both actual and would-be, liberal social media giants disapprove strongly of free speech. They cannot bear the free exchange of news, commentary, pictures and videos that they cannot censor or edit. They mask this need for control by setting themselves up as a kind of niceness-police, creating vague “community standards” of tastefulness – or what they see as truth.
That’s how they control what is posted on their OWN platforms.
But how can they control what gets posted on the platforms of others, which they don’t actually own? Not just conservative outlets, but major ones like The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal?
The answer to that question was recently discovered and revealed by the British centrist columnist Piers Morgan, in the Daily Mail.
To be fair, Morgan did not explicitly wag his finger at Google and Facebook and proclaim, “Here’s how these media giants are censoring conservative viewpoints on websites they don’t own.”
But that is the exact accusation he made.
The story has an interesting background. On July 28, 2021, Morgan wrote an article that was published in the Daily Mail in which he criticized Olympic gymnast Simone Biles for quitting Team USA during the Tokyo Olympics.
“I didn’t share the widely held view that this was an act of incredibly inspiring heroic courage … especially when the first reasons she gave for quitting were that she wasn’t having enough fun,” he wrote.
Morgan scolded Biles, suggesting that patriotism, not “fun,” should have dictated her decision to compete or quit.
“You are part of Team USA, representing the United States of America, and hundreds of millions of American people watching back home, not to mention all the sponsors who’ve paid huge sums to support you,” Morgan said.
The column generated over 9,000 comments. That’s impressive.
Enter the “woke” nerds at Google, who didn’t agree with his public lashing of Biles and “put an advertising block on my column eight hours after it was posted,” Morgan complained in a lengthy article.
That is, no advertisements could appear alongside the opinion piece.
What precisely did Google find offensive? As anyone who has suffered from Google’s censorship policies knows, the answer to that question is as clear as a Joe Biden joke. Good luck.
“We found some issues that are policy violations that you must fix. No ads are being served,” Google told the Daily Mail, which ran the article.
Issues? Are there more than one? What needs to be fixed? Perhaps a little clarity? Please? Typically, Google never explained the alleged offense(s). So you just have to guess. It’s part of Google’s “fun.” Or maybe you’ll learn to be “nice” faster if you have to figure it out for yourself.
The point is: Google has discovered a back door for controlling news content on third-party websites. If they don’t like what is posted then no ads are placed with the content, meaning no revenue from views of those ads.
Ad income from Google is not just a tiny slice of the revenue pie for online news organizations. As Mr. Morgan points out, “Google and Facebook have a virtual monopoly on online advertising revenue, hoovering up 80 percent of the entire market between them.”
What kind of chilling effect will this ad revenue loss have on editorial decision-makers? How much self-censorship will result, for purely financial reasons? How much time will be spent analyzing the financial risk of publishing controversial opinion pieces, no matter how cogent or true, especially if they were written by conservatives who rarely agree with these social media mobsters?
By financially punishing news publications over the content of their stories, Google and Facebook are making themselves the de facto editorial board. THEY will decide “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” not the news organizations themselves.
Given the vague offenses that Google (and let’s not forget Facebook) use as “crimes” to punish via an “advertising block,” would it not be safest for editorial boards simply to reject conservative opinion pieces? Not even conservative, but simply common-sense, realistic and challenging? Why take the financial risk of posting an article just to find out later one has violated some ambiguous policy that will mean less ad revenue?
The reasons Google gave Piers Morgan certainly left him scratching his head, pondering all the possible policy offenses he may have committed.
Did he write something “dangerous” or “derogatory?” Was it that he “incited hatred?” Did he have “content that harasses, intimidates or bullies an individual or group of individuals?”
Imagine just for a second or two an editorial board that has to consider dozens of vague, ambiguous and unquantified Google policy violations, examining each and every possible transgression before posting each and every story.
Now that is control. Who would blame a news organization for simply saying, “No conservative opinion pieces!”
Because if arguing for American patriotism, as Mr. Morgan did, is now a Google policy violation, then conservative writers better get used to seeing this deflating email in their inbox:
“Dear John, thank you for your recent commentary submitted for our news organization’s review and consideration. However … we want to stay in business and are therefore declining your article.”
What will all this mean for the Everyman with common-sense, conservative, patriotic, and traditional values? First Google and Facebook will restrict what can be posted on their own platforms. Then they’ll make sure similar content can’t be posted on others.
It looks like Google and Facebook are setting up the pieces for a total online blackout of conservative views.