- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The censorship jitters have struck. A new survey suggests that conservatives don’t trust Facebook and are considering leaving the popular social media platform, currently host to some 2.2 billion users.

“One-third of self-described conservative Facebook users have left or are considering leaving Facebook due to political censorship,” the Media Research Center poll noted Wednesday. “Two-thirds of conservatives agreed they do not trust Facebook to treat its users equally regardless of their political beliefs. Another two-thirds of self-described conservatives believe social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are purposely censoring conservatives and conservative ideas from their platforms.”

This has been an issue for five months. In April, Republican lawmakers questioned Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg about privacy, data use and possible liberal bias within his organization. Facebook videos made by Diamond and Silk — among President Trump’s biggest fans — were deemed “unsafe,” prompting them to testify before Congress as well. Diamond and Silk — Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson — told lawmakers they had been censored and their content to 1.2 million followers restricted.

All this cumulative uneasiness could affect the Facebook audience.

“These numbers are devastating to any CEO responsible for addressing the concerns of his customer base,” says Media Research Center President Brent Bozell. “According to this survey, 7 percent of conservatives have already left Facebook and another 25 percent are seriously considering it. That’s nearly one-third of conservatives on Facebook — potentially tens of millions of consumers. To make matters worse, two-thirds of conservative Facebook users trust Facebook less than they did a year ago. These trends should set off alarm bells at Facebook headquarters. They are bleeding a major customer base.”

It could be a teachable moment.

“The question Facebook and other social media companies need to ask themselves is this: Do you want to be seen as an open platform for all political beliefs or would you rather be considered a left-wing public interest group that censors free speech worldwide?” says Mr. Bozell. “The latter will prove to be unbelievably costly. Censorship on social media is no longer a hypothetical; it’s reality. So too is the evidence that this censorship is pointing to a massive conservative exodus.”

See more numbers in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

AND IT’S OFF TO INDIANA

President Trump heads off Thursday for yet another bodacious Make America Great Again rally in Evansville, Indiana, — his 10th in the state, his second in Evansville. It’s going to be a busy, crowded town — hosting Trump fans and a counter-rally of considerable size.

“The Vanderburgh County Democratic Party demonstration is expected to draw thousands of activists in caravans from three states in response to President Trump’s 7 p.m. rally. With at least 11,000 expected for the rally and the possibility that an overflow crowd may have to remain outside, local law enforcement and U.S. Secret Service officials will be on alert for confrontations and violence outside the arena,” reports The Evansville Courier.

The county’s Democratic Party Chairman Scott Danks has a “blunt message,” according to the newspaper.

“Those that want to raise hell are not welcome,” Mr. Danks told the Courier.

On Mr. Trump’s rally agenda: the economy, immigration, trade policies, new EPA coal rules and state races.

“President Trump will remind Hoosiers of the need to get out and vote in midterm elections this fall to protect and expand the GOP majorities in the House and Senate, including supporting Mike Braun in his race against Joe Donnelly for the U.S. Senate,” says Michael Glassner, CEO for Donald J. Trump for President Inc.

FOR THE LEXICON

“Whip the Vote.”

— New progressive campaign urging “every Democratic senator to announce their opposition to Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation immediately,” according to organizers, who launched their effort Monday and so far have attracted the support of 18 organizations, including MoveOn, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Color of Change and Daily Kos.

A NEW MEXICO ALLIANCE

One former presidential candidate endorses another former presidential candidate: It’s complicated. Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, has endorsed Libertarian Gary Johnson, currently on a quest to win a Senate seat in New Mexico. Mr. Paul was one of 17 hopefuls challenging Donald Trump for the 2016 Republican nomination; Mr. Johnson ran in the race as a Libertarian. Now he pines to be a lawmaker, and will challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Martin Heinrich and GOP challenger Mick Rich.

“Gary Johnson is a true fiscal conservative. As governor, he reduced the size of government while improving services. He cut taxes, and he set what may be a record by vetoing more than 700 unnecessary pieces of legislation. His leadership on issues of government overreach, protecting Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights against mass surveillance, and common sense foreign policy is sorely needed in the Senate, for New Mexico and the nation. He will be an important ally and a critical independent voice,” Mr. Paul said in his endorsement statement.

What does it all mean?

“Paul’s endorsement is sure to add pressure on Mick Rich to step aside and give Johnson, the two-term former governor of the state, a clear shot at challenging what until now has been considered a safe Democratic seat. In the only poll taken since Johnson officially entered the race two weeks ago, the Libertarian was up on the Republican 21 percent to 11 percent — versus Heidrich’s 39 — and even held a slight edge among registered Republicans,” writes Matt Welch, editor at large for Reason magazine.

POLL DU JOUR

67 percent of self-identified conservatives say their trust in Facebook is “less than it was a year ago.”

66 percent do not trust Facebook to treat all users equally “regardless of political beliefs.”

65 percent believe social media companies are “purposefully censoring conservatives and conservative ideas.”

48 percent use Facebook and don’t plan to leave it.

22 percent are considering leaving Facebook because of political censorship.

13 percent stopped using Facebook “for another reason,” 7 percent stopped because of political censorship.

Source: A Media Research Center/McGlaughlin & Associates poll of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted Aug. 22-27; the sample included 351 self-identified conservatives.

Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin

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