Book reviews

Peter J. Hasson’s The Manipulators: Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Big Tech’s War on Conservatives (Regnery, 2020)

Timely, thorough research on Facebook, Google, Twitter, & YouTube censorship; a must-read for 2020.

Facebook’s and Twitter’s most recent violation of First Amendment free speech rights is only one episode in Big Tech’s decades-long censorship.  Hasson provides a remarkable account of how social media companies (which were supposed to be bastions of free speech) became the monopolies and dictators that they are.

Of course, conservatives, pro-lifers, and Republicans always knew that social media companies opposed Judeo-Christian values such as free speech, heterosexual normativity, etc.  Now, the larger American public knows that no one is safe from these companies’ suppression of free speech.

The people whom Big Tech targets are champions of conservative and pro-life causes, including the following.  Facebook censored Franklin Graham for expressing Christian values (40).  Twitter censored Ray Blanchard’s research on transgenderism as a “mental disorder” (95).  Twitter exerted extreme bias against pro-life activist Lila Rose of Live Action (115ff).  Big Tech used the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to slander human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali as anti-Muslim (126).  The SPLC attacked Dr. Ben Carson as “an extremist for simply stating the traditional Christian belief that marriage is the sacramental union of a man and a woman” (128).

Hasson discusses a wide variety of topics on Big Tech’s oppression and suppression of free speech and identifies its numerous bad actors.  Ninety-nine per cent of Silicon Valley employees’ political donations went to Hillary (15).  Facebook manipulates “trending topics” on behalf of the racist organization Black Lives Matter (24).  Big Tech supports the abortion business Planned Parenthood, which worked with anti-Semitic elements in the Women’s March (112).  Hasson also explores in depth Facebook’s and Google’s huge profits and their collaboration with Communist China (173).

Although most of the book raises one’s blood pressure, at least two items are utterly laughable.  A Google employee “who identifies as both ‘a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin’ and ‘an expansive ornate building’” complained that the word “family” suggested a heterosexual couple with children (55)!  Wha-what?  Such an employee needs psychological help.

The second example of Big Tech’s idiocy involves Snopes and its “fact-checking” of a Babylon Bee satire: “CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine to Spin News before Publication” (133).  What idiot would believe that this had to be “fact-checked”?

Two chapters should be required reading for all Journalism students (especially at leftist academic institutions) and for all pro-life activists: chapter five “Twitter’s Free Speech Farce” (79-107) and chapter 6 “Purging Pro-Lifers” (109-22).

Faculty and student researchers will greatly appreciate Hasson’s “Notes” (APA and MLA style references), which run 39 pages (185-224).  The hard work has already been done for you.

Some lines from the book are eminently quotable and could inspire high school and college students to write some masterly essays.  For example:

“Donald Trump’s election in 2016 sent a shockwave through the liberal political and media establishment” (3).

“Social media represents a real threat to the political monoculture enforced by elite institutions” (5).

“At Google, diversity doesn’t apply to diversity of thought, and inclusion doesn’t apply to orthodox Christians or social conservatives” (51).

“It’s important to keep in mind: the people offended by the word ‘family’ are the same ones whose product you trust for accurate answers when you type in ‘what is a family?’” (56).

“Most people searching for ‘abortion’ on YouTube [are] looking for information and viewpoints that CNN won’t show, which is why pro-life content outperforms pro-abortion content when the playing field is neutral” (71).

“Google is: an ideologically left-leaning company staffed by people who resent the right’s success on its massive video platform and are actively working to counter it” (77).

[Quoting an abortion wrongs activist] “People on Facebook engage with anti-abortion [sic] content more than abortion-rights [sic] content at a ‘disproportionate rate’” (114).

“The rise of populist movements around the world and Big Tech’s all-encompassing censorship regime are on a collision course” (169).

Fortunately, despite the billions of dollars that Big Tech’s dictators have, Hasson’s book is eminently encouraging.  Under the “Make It Hurt” heading in the final chapter, Hasson offers this advice: “What conservatives should not do is abandon Big Tech platforms.  That is simply surrendering—and conservatives do that far too often” (181; italics in original).  He even offers his email to encourage people to report “cases of unfair digital censorship”: (181-2).

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