WASHINGTON — On the heels of an unprecedented Twitter “fact check” of one of his latest tweets, President Donald Trump signed a long-anticipated executive order (EO) Thursday. This Trump EO specifically deals with increasing moves by social media sites to censor conservatives on their platforms. The president’s order allows the Federal Communications Commission to remove their special protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The EO addresses the Act’s provisions that currently social media sites from legal liabilities due to content posted by their users. These same protections do not apply to media institutions like newspapers or television news networks.
It’s about time
The president’s move is seen by conservatives and First Amendment supporters as long overdue. Trump, of course, heralded his EO move on Twitter, calling it “a Big Day for Social Media Fairness.”
The Russians are coming!
When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, the US intelligence community and their mainstream media assets claimed Russia heavily “influenced” the American electorate in Trump’s favor through its manipulation of social media.
As this strategy’s parting shot, the outgoing Obama administration expelled 35 Russians suspected of spying from the US. The administration also closed several Russian-owned facilities believed to be Internet trolling mills. They were accused of responsibility for “hacking” the 2016 presidential election.
And so began the fake-news narrative that culminated first in the phony Mueller investigation and later in the fake impeachment trial of President Trump. Throughout it all, disgruntled Democrats and their media acolytes held America’s social media platforms largely responsible for aiding Russia in the defeat of preordained presidential victor Hillary Clinton.
Re-imagining the great, right-wing conspiracy
Fanning the flames of outrage further, a Columbia Journalism Review investigation of Trump’s victory claimed that…
“… a right-wing media network anchored around Breitbart developed as a distinct and insulated media system, using social media as a backbone to transmit a hyper-partisan perspective to the world.”
The devious instigators, said the Columbia Journalism Review, were the usual suspects. Namely, “Fox News, the Daily Caller, the Gateway Pundit, the Washington Examiner, Infowars, Conservative Treehouse, and Truthfeed.”
The Review also claimed the following.
“… [the] right-wing media was able to bring the focus on immigration, Clinton emails, and scandals more generally to the broader media environment. A sentence-level analysis of stories throughout the media environment suggest that Donald Trump’s substantive agenda – heavily focused on immigration and direct attacks on Hillary Clinton – came to dominate public discussions.”
The study concluded,
“Traditional media needs to reorient, not by developing better viral content and clickbait to compete in the social media environment, but by recognizing that it is operating in a propaganda and disinformation-rich environment.”
And end run around legacy media
In other words, so the theory goes, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter were instrumental in aiding conservative organs. This, in turn, successfully competed with more traditional, Democratic-friendly news giants to influence American opinion.
For this reason, the key to combating that “outside” influence would consist of efforts to paint conservative perspectives as propaganda and disinformation. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t hurt that soon after the election, traditional media painted Facebook and Twitter as cats’ paws for Russian interference in America’s electoral politics.
That was, and continues to be, the ongoing media narrative. But is it true?
According to Google, Russian agents bought display ads valued on that platform valued at around $4,700. Facebook, meanwhile, received around $100,000 for 3,000 ads that announced, among other things, a “Support Hillary. Save American Muslims” rally in Washington, D.C. To confuse the issue, they later included a “Trump is not my president” gathering in New York City held after his election.
But in reality, the Trump and Clinton campaigns spent a combined $156 million to influence American voters, leaving Russia’s Internet trolls in the dust.
A 2019 a study authored by several Duke University professors threw even more cold water on the Russian electoral influence narrative.
“Russian trolls might have failed to sow discord because they mostly interacted with those who were already highly polarized.”
That means the Russians, like the editorial board of the New York Times, were preaching to the choir. As a result, they failed to move the needle one way or the other with regard to public opinion.
The forgotten, low propensity voter
A Trump campaign memo actually discussed the key to the president’s 2016 victory.
“Based on an internal analysis of our own modeling data and third-party research, and considering the exceptionalism of our candidate, I advise that we put one-hundred percent of our organizational effort into enfranchising the conventionally low propensity voters that support our candidate… They don’t get any voter contact love from the campaigns because they don’t vote, but they don’t vote because they don’t get any voter contact. It is a persistent state of disenfranchisement – and among these people are fervent supporters of our candidate.”
Alternative conservative media, like the Trump campaign in 2016, effectively target the same “low propensity voters” via social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter aren’t censoring conservative voices just to shield the ears of inflexible partisan stalwarts on the left. Nor are they censoring voices on the right to deny them the loyal, earsplitting clatter of their amen corner.
Social media censorship is in fact designed to deny curious, low propensity individuals’ freedom of choice to read the alternative viewpoints of counterculture conservatism. It is this radical, antagonistic shift in behavior that the President’s EO means to address.
The Trump EO addresses the heart of the matter
Many of Trump’s key supporters are those “deplorable” Americans the media routinely disparages and smears. Major media and social media alike regularly smear these Americans, characterizing them as racist, God-fearing, gun-toting, uneducated rubes. They are one and the same as folks Hillary Clinton snidely dismissed as “Deplorables.”
Trump wisely understood their concerns, making this previously invisible vote the key to his 2016 victory.
Consequently, these forgotten Americans, Trump is an expression of their id-like, explosive psychic energy and its demand for immediate gratification. The kind of energy capable of sweeping away the current order. Currently an elitist world in control of social media billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Larry Page.
Social media giants like Twitter gradually evolved into a globalist monster. Today, taken together, the constitute an information monopoly routinely used as a weapon in political censorship. And it is this weapon a certain president intends to throttle with a simple signature on his EO.
Top Image: President Trump signs his social media executive order (EO) Thursday. C-SPAN screen capture.