Politico is amplifying debunked conservative lies about social media

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

In covering President Donald Trump’s July 11 “social media summit,” Politico’s reporting and Twitter posts are boosting oft-debunked conservative claims of censorship by tech and social media giants Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube.

The summit, which was announced on June 26, will host what the White House called “digital leaders” -- many of whom are actually far-right extremists -- for “a robust conversation on the opportunities and challenges of today’s online environment.”

Politico posted two tweets this morning that pushed conservatives’ grievance narrative of shadow banning and censorship by social media companies without noting that these complaints have been found to be false.

Politico’s article on the summit wasn't much better, repeatedly quoting Trump’s conservative supporters on assertions of bias against them, even as it explained that “the bias accusations can be politically useful for Republican strategists, who have called them a helpful tool in firing up the GOP base.”

Conservatives attending the event insisted they have real grievances to air. They say Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube have applied their rules inconsistently while banishing conservatives, downplaying their content or making it harder for them to generate ad revenue.

“These seemingly outstanding, disturbing data points are now becoming a very, very troubling pattern,” said Charlie Kirk, president of the conservative student advocacy group Turning Point USA, who plans to attend Thursday's summit.

"[Social media companies] are becoming more involved in taking the lead on public persuasion by manipulating search and creating algorithms that suppress ideas that they simply don’t like. So the hope is that we change that because we do believe in freedom of speech," said Marissa Streit, the chief executive officer of PragerU, a right-wing advocacy group.

The truth is that Trump’s event is nothing more than a stunt to shore up support from his biggest social media supporters, who complain about bans even though they occur only after users violate the terms of service they agreed to on various platforms. Politico’s coverage of Trump’s social media summit is simply spreading right-wing misinformation to its readers.