week, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) teamed up with five
other groups funded by George Soros to pressure tech companies to
"reduce hateful activities on their platforms." While this sounds
like a noble goal, mainstream conservative and Christian groups that
have fallen afoul of the SPLC warned that these liberal
organizations have an "Orwellian" definition of hate that most
Americans would disagree with. Worse, social media companies already
seem biased against conservatives, and this SPLC campaign would only
embolden that bias.
Wednesday, the SPLC led a coalition of groups in releasing "Change
the Terms," aiming to convince Big Tech to "reduce hateful
activities on their platforms." The coalition warned that "white
supremacist and other organizations that incite hate are using
online platforms to organize, fund, recruit supporters for, and
normalize racism, sexism, religious bigotry, as well as anti-LGBTQ
and anti-immigrant animus, among other activities."
the overwhelming majority of Americans abhor wicked ideologies like
white supremacy, the SPLC boldly associates its political opponents
with similar "hate," smearing them as "hate groups" to be compared
with the KKK.
obviously concerning that they want to censor free speech, and of
course their definition of 'hate speech' is not what most people
think of as hate speech," Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the
Christian legal nonprofit Liberty Counsel, told PJ Media.
people think of hate speech as somebody encouraging physical
violence," Staver argued. Groups like the SPLC "extend it to anybody
who doesn't accept their view on LGBT issues, same-sex marriage,
abortion, immigration, or Islam."
paid $3.375 million to settle a defamation
lawsuit from Maajid Nawaz, a Muslim reformer the SPLC had branded an
"anti-Muslim extremist." Following this settlement, Staver
told PJ Media that 60 groups like Liberty
Counsel — which has been branded a "hate group" by the SPLC — were
defamation lawsuits against the smear
argued that the SPLC's definition of "hate" reminds him of the
outright lying associated with George Orwell's famous classic 1984.
"Their definition is Orwellian," he said. "Their definition is no
different than Bill Clinton's, 'It depends on what the definition of
companies have already targeted Liberty Counsel for adverse
treatment thanks to the SPLC's "hate group" list. "We had Norton
Security software attempt to block us," Staver recalled. "We sent a
demand letter, and they withdrew the block. When they did their own
review, they concluded that we were not a hate group."
tech companies consider "Change the Terms," they should also examine
companies should be aware that the Southern Poverty Law Center was
connected in federal court to domestic terrorism when the shooter
who attacked the Family Research Council in 2012 pled guilty to the
crime while confessing that he relied on the SPLC's discredited
'hate map' to target the FRC," Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin,
executive vice president at the Family Research Council (FRC), told
the convicted terrorist who attempted to kill everyone in the FRC's
Washington, D.C., office admitted that he used the SPLC's "hate map"
to find his target. Even so, the SPLC has not
reconsidered its "hate group" designation
for FRC, and outlets like CNN
plastered the SPLC "hate map" online, with
warned that "the SPLC is a political defamation machine that has
little respect for freedom of thought and expression. The SPLC is
calling on tech companies to sacrifice free speech on the altar of
demand that social media platforms push past First Amendment
principles to pursue nothing but the strictest forms of
content-based regulation on free speech is to throw decades of
jurisprudence on the fires of history," Boykin argued. "The SPLC's
requests are nothing more than a demand to acquiesce to
SPLC and its coalition would likely respond that the proposed terms
do not violate the First Amendment. In a set of Frequently
Asked Questions on the "Change the Terms"
website, the groups argue that "hateful activity" means "activities
that incite or engage in violence, intimidation, harassment,
threats, or defamation targeting an individual or group based on
their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin,
ethnicity, immigration status, gender, gender identity, sexual
orientation, or disability."
of the strict definition of hateful activity found in the terms of
service, these policies will not block free speech," the site
claims. The First Amendment does not bind a private company, but it
also does not protect all speech. "We carefully wrote the definition
of hateful activity to cover types of speech that courts have said
are not protected as free speech: incitement, violence,
intimidation, harassment, threats, and defamation."
difficulty comes, however, in the application of these terms.
"Change the Terms" calls on tech companies to "allow for individuals
and organizations — but not government actors — to flag hateful
activities, as well as flag groups and individuals engaged in
hateful activities," and to "create a trusted flagger program for
vetted, well-established civil and human rights organizations to
expedite review of potential hateful activities."
content on massive social media sites is difficult, so the SPLC and
its Soros-funded allies are here to help! Just who would these
"civil and human rights organizations" be?
coalition includes the Center for American Progress (CAP), a
left-wing group whose former president served as chief of staff for
both Bill and Hillary Clinton. CAP admits receiving more
than $1 million from Soros' Open Society
Foundations, but the Media Research Center put the number at $10
million — back in 2015!
and the SPLC also teamed up with Free Press (which received $350,000
from Open Society Foundations in 2009),
Color of Change (whose co-founders are Van Jones and a former
MoveOn.org director, and which received
$550,000 from the Open Society Foundation),
the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (a group that
opposed Robert Bork in 1984 and received more
than $900,000 from Soros groups), and the
National Hispanic Media Coalition (which took
$450,000from Open Society Foundations in 2016). Not to be
left out, the SPLC also received a $75,000
grant from Open Society Foundations in 2016.
All Americans should condemn the bombing attempt against George
Soros, but that attack does not make the Leftist donor any less
liberal. His money machinations have brought down governments and he
has directed funds to fundamentally change America.)
Roback Morse, a leader at the Ruth Institute (which lost
its credit-card processor thanks to the SPLC's
"hate group" label), told PJ Media that "'Change the Terms'
seems to be a coalition of well-funded hard-Left organizations
intent on shutting down even small opponents."
"the people behind 'Change the Terms' appear to be completely
oblivious to their own biases," Morse noted. She warned that
"independent thinkers should not allow groups like the Southern
Poverty Law Center to censor the Internet."
so, many tech companies seem to have the right kind of biases to
fall for the SPLC's rhetoric. A survey earlier this year found that
conservatives working for Silicon Valley companies live
in fear of their political opinions being
exposed. Studies have found massive support for Democrats over
Republicans at Apple, Amazon,
Making matters worse, these companies already cite the SPLC's "hate
group" list, with Amazon removing D.
James Kennedy Ministries and Alliance
Defending Freedom from its Amazon Smile program, and Apple
partnering with the SPLC.
August, Facebook censored
conservative articles, marking them as "spam." It also
censored the popular conservative video nonprofit
PragerU, and when the employee responsible became known, Facebook
did not fire him. PragerU has already sued
Google and YouTube over "intentional
censorship" of their videos.
Taylor, director of the new film "The Creepy Line," told PJ Media he
found "Change the Terms" "deeply concerning and potentially
we have seen, these companies are not ideologically neutral and
already they see themselves as censors of ideas they deem against
their world view," Taylor noted. "While this is bad for innovation
and the development of thought, it becomes more dangerous when this
plays out in a free society."
if these companies see a person or group of people as ideological
threats?" Taylor wondered. "This kind of discrimination can trickle
down to how you voted, where you shop, what do you with your free
time, etc. Any of these identifiers could potentially be a means of
discrimination according to these efforts."
Indeed, New York
Times bestselling author Peter Schweizer
told PJ Media last month that Google and Facebook have the kind of
power that historical dictators like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin,
and Mao Zedong "would
dream about." Dr. Robert Epstein, a psychologist who studies
search engine manipulation effects (and a supporter of Hillary
Clinton), argues that Google
bias gave Hillary Clinton her popular vote
margin in the 2016 election.
many conservatives expressed deep concern about "Change the Terms,"
one conservative advocate for free speech online actually saw the
effort as a positive sign that tech companies are feeling the
backlash from censorship.
seems the growing recognition by elected officials and grassroots
Americans of the clear pattern of censorship of Christian and
conservative viewpoints by Big Tech has rattled progressives seeking
to suppress those views," James Smith, vice president of
communications at National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), told PJ
Religious Broadcasters for many years has urged social media
platforms to adopt a Free Speech Charter based on First Amendment
principles," Smith noted. "We
did so again a year ago when we launched
Internet Freedom Watch. Such a standard, based on centuries of
American jurisprudence, would enable the rightful blocking of
violent or obscene content without trampling on free speech
liberties upon which our nation is founded."
NRB VP also noted that Dr.
Jerry Johnson, NRB's president, renewed that call in
September, warning that if tech companies do not adopt such a
charter by January 1, 2019, he will lead an effort to call on
Congress to reevaluate Section 230 of the Communications Decency
Act, a key legal protection for Big Tech.
cited some examples of censorship on Internet Freedom Watch's timeline.
"When Lila Rose's LiveAction is censored from promoting her pro-life
views on Twitter while Planned Parenthood can push its pro-abortion
views on the platform — just to state one egregious example —
there's no doubt that viewpoints out of favor with progressives are
being suppressed by Big Tech."
argued that "Change the Terms" shows that NRB's efforts to highlight
social media censorship are working. "Internet Freedom Watch and
other efforts to draw attention to online viewpoint censorship is
clearly making a difference if such a coalition is seeking to
pressure Big Tech to even greater degrees of censorship."
the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.