FILE – In this Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, file photo, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is interviewed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Dorsey said Nov. 22, 2016, that the social media platform accidentally suspended his own account. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Dear Conservatives: the social media giants don’t like you. In fact, they’ll never like you.
Sure, the titans of tech appreciate you logging on and using their services, but they don’t care about extending to you the same courtesy they do to others. Since this is the harsh reality, it’s high time you stop relying on them.
Frankly, it’s embarrassing.
For some reason, a great number of conservatives feel they are owed a platform on networking sites because the use of them is a 1st Amendment issue. I get the initial feeling for that claim, but it’s an entirely erroneous assumption. The freedoms afforded in the 1st Amendment include the ability to express yourself without governmental intervention. Facebook, Twitter, etc. may make rules and internal decisions that we don’t like, but bans or suspensions made by private media companies is not a case of free speech infringement.
It’s just not.
Now that we’ve established that uncomfortable truth, let’s move on.
Silicon Valley is and always will be dominated by the Left and their moderate allies. The best conservatives can – and should – do is properly infiltrate them by getting involved in the industry. You don’t change the behavior of a company by demanding they do something, especially when you’re outnumbered. You get involved in the minutiae. However, this would require that many on the Right who decry the evils of higher education start changing their tone. We must honestly assess the current situation. While we admit that campuses are largely dominated by the academic Left, we can still encourage young, conservative men and women to attend universities, receive degrees, get involved, and make a difference in our modern culture.
Earlier this year, my former colleague, Kira Davis, made this plea in her piece entitled Dear Conservative Parents: Stop Raising Politicians And Pundits.
As it stands now, the people with the power to shut down our voices at places like Google and Facebook are largely millennial liberals who moved directly from the insulation of a progressive college campus to the insulation of a progressive technological campus often housed inside the bubble of a progressive large city. They don’t shut down people like Benjamin because they’re evil despots rubbing their hands together with glee at the thought of ending the First Amendment. They do it because to them he is abnormal. They feel they are justified. They feel they are doing the right thing, the good thing.
It’s a culture, not a grand plot. The only way to change that culture is to flood it with a counter culture.
If we want to preserve the avenues for conservative voices to reach the mainstream then we have to be more proactive in filling those jobs that serve the mainstream. It is great to encourage your children to be independent thinkers who share conservative values, but don’t get stuck there.
Imagine how different this whole conversation would be if YouTube’s staff reflected the statistical ideological split of the general American public?
We don’t need more Tomi Lahrens. We DO need more James Damores, so parent accordingly.
(If you’re not aware, James Damore is a former Google engineer who was fired after posting an internal memo called “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.”)
We can complain all we want about the hypocrisies of Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey, but if all we do is flail about and create a trending hashtag that serves as a demand to bring back some banned conserva-celebrity, then what are we doing? The answer is…nothing.
Recently, Twitter made additions to the definitions of unacceptable conduct. Included now in prohibited behavior is the “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.” Now, users can’t use the biological gender or the original name of an individual who has made the decision to transition. Essentially, this is considered hate speech. It’s an entirely absurd, juvenile rule, but nevertheless, Twitter has made it.
This addition serves as a great reminder. We shouldn’t focus on the fleeting “Oh no, Twitter just banned this cool conservative person I follow!” Instead, we should recognize how much the changing face of social media is a reflection of culture and not the other way around.
Futhermore, conservatives need to know what they’re talking about.
I’ve been on Twitter since 2012 and if you spend only a bit of time there, you’ll start think it’s the center of the universe. It’s absolutely not. (Neither is any place on the internet.) Conservatives along with everyone else tend to get caught up in the fast-paced, news-focused world of tweets and retweets and suddenly believe that a suspension or ban means the world is now crashing down and – gasp! – your 1st Amendment rights have been destroyed!
Neither is true.
Of the top 21 social media sites, Twitter ranks twelfth. Sites like Tumblr and WhatsApp rank higher. In second place is YouTube and unsurprisingly, Facebook dominates at number one with 2.23 billion MAUs (monthly active users).
Instead of spending time wailing about bans and suspensions, conservatives must do the following:
- Recognize that social media interference is not infringing upon 1A rights.
- Encourage more young people to attend college and work toward careers in tech.
- Realize that new site rules are a reflection of larger, more concerning cultural problems.
- Admit that most whiners really don’t know the specifics of what they’re talking about.
It’s fun to log on to a social media platform and interact, but conservatives must stop clinging to social media like a junkie. These sites are not your friend and they don’t care about spreading your message. Use them as a tool, but do so with informed caution.
And for goodness’ sake, start getting involved in the real world if you really want to see some change in the online one.
Kimberly Ross is a senior contributor at RedState and a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.