- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Conservatives who have long chafed over being marginalized and muzzled on social media are fighting back with a newly formed coalition.

Conservatives Against Online Censorship launched Tuesday in an effort to “draw attention to the issue of political censorship on social media,” starting with Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube.

Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, called social media “the most expansive and most game-changing form of communication today.”

“It is these facts that make online political censorship one of the largest threats to free speech we have ever seen,” Mr. Bozell said in a statement. “Conservatives should be given the same ability to express their political ideas online as liberals, without the fear of being suppressed or censored.”

The coalition’s unveiling comes with unrest over bias on the rise as conservatives balk at being blocked on social media and decry the growing influence of the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center in helping tech platforms identify and bar “hate content.”

Last week, for example, the music-streaming service Spotify touched off alarm by announcing it had partnered with the SPLC, as well as the Anti-Defamation League, Muslim Advocates and GLAAD, to remove or refuse to promote any track that contains “hate content.”

Reason’s Christian Britschgi argued that while “fighting bigotry is a fine goal” and private companies may do as they please, Spotify’s policy is “an ambiguous mess doomed to failure.”

The anti-censorship coalition called for the tech giants to provide more transparency “to see if liberal groups and users are being treated the same as those on the right,” and provide greater clarity on “hate speech.”

“Today, hate speech means anything liberals don’t like,” said the statement. “If companies can’t tell users clearly what it is, then they shouldn’t try to regulate it.”

The group urged companies to “make equal room for conservative groups as advisers to offset this bias,” and to expand employment diversity efforts to include “viewpoint diversity.”

Finally, the coalition argued that tech giants should implement policies that “mirror the First Amendment,” which would allow companies to block content that “threatens violence of spews obscenity, without trampling on free-speech liberties.”

So far the coalition has 18 members, including advocacy groups like ACT for America and American Values, educational institutions such as Oklahoma Wesleyan University and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and media outlets like Project Veritas and Western Journal.

The MRC released in April a 56-page report detailing examples of bias and censorship on top social-media platforms.

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