The Greatest Threat to America Is Already in Your Home
I’ll bet that if I told you the greatest threat to democracy is in the palm of your hand, you’d think I’m crazy.
After all, there’s North Korea. Russia. ISIS. And a million other dangers.
But this is a very different kind of threat. It’s one that not only have we welcomed into our homes … but we’ve made an integral part of our lives.
I’m talking about how we get our news. Communicate with our friends. Form relationships. Stay connected.
Imagine a world where you go onto social media to do all of these things. And you share tons of information about yourself. Studies have shown that our lives are consumed with social media and smart phones and being “connected.”
I’ll admit it – I’ve built a marketing empire around it. We’ve used it to make a lot of money for a lot of people. But it’s time to call out what’s really happening … and the threat we are facing, even if it hurts our bottom line as a company. Because there’s something bigger at risk here—our country.
Social media asks you to tell us what you like. Tell us who your friends are. Talk about your politics. Your faith. Your job. Your kids. It makes you happy
Hashtag things so people can connect with you easier. So we can categorize you easier. It makes you happy.
Don’t worry about the fact that we know everything about you. Your buying behavior. Your search history. Your credit history. It allows us to serve you up stuff you want to see. NEED to see. It makes you happy.
We all know that social media has created “bubbles” around us. Even former President Obama has talked about it. We go online and we’re surrounded with people and ideas and stories that fit our own political and religious ideologies. Social media platforms encourage us to block people, media outlets and companies that we don’t like or don’t agree with or don’t want to see content from. The bubble shrinks. We give up more data. It makes you happy.
We’ll tell you what’s “trending.” What we want you to see. The news we want you to consume. It will make you happy.
But something went wrong for these Internet giants. In 2016, they failed. They missed the trends. They couldn’t block the rise of The Silent Majority. And despite all odds, the underdog was elected. Donald Trump became POTUS. And they were NOT happy.
Shortly after, it began to spread at a fever pace. Censorship of conservative voices.
We saw it at Law Enforcement Today. Articles and videos that should have gotten HUGE reach … getting no reach … or worse, mysteriously being deleted.
Advertising campaigns shut down for conservative clients at The Silent Partner Marketing … left and right. “Violating terms and conditions” we were told. When we pointed out how much money we spent and that we were well aware our ads didn’t violate “terms and conditions,” the ads were quickly reactivated. Facebook’s explanation? “It was a technical glitch.”
Entire pages and entire audiences being deleted like Turtle Boy Sports. We’re talking about the livelihood of individuals being decimated … by social media platforms that don’t have an obligation to answer to anyone. After all, the free market dictates everything.
In January, Facebook make a cataclysmic shift.
“We want to make sure that our products are not just fun, but are good for people,” Facebook founder Zuckerberg said. “We need to refocus the system.”
So what exactly did that mean?
It meant businesses and media companies disappeared from newsfeeds. But overwhelmingly those that disappeared were CONSERVATIVE.
It’s easy to eliminate conservative thought leadership under the guise of “we’re going to focus on showing you friends and family”—because Facebook said changes were coming. So conservatives didn’t notice when conservative content disappeared.
But it’s not just Facebook. We’ve now seen coordinated attacks on that conservative voice from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google. And those platforms are taking a page out of the books of McCarthyism, encouraging people to “report” content that they don’t like or is offensive to them.
I’ve had videos shut down on Law Enforcement Today because they were offensive to people who hate police. But when LET reported to Facebook a post from a man who said he was going to kill our President, it “didn’t violate their terms and conditions.” That same man was arrested by Secret Service outside of the White House with weapons.
I’ve watched as partners of ours—both media companies and ecommerce companies—have seen their organic reach DECIMATED. I could go on and on with specific examples. But instead … I’d rather focus on the solution.
It’s tucked away in the Communications Decency Act, which was passed in 1996.
And I’m going to preface this by saying that, as a hardcore capitalist and conservative business owner, it sickens me that I believe we need to consider changing laws and target the free market to protect democracy … but I no longer see a choice.
Section 230 of that act says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. § 230).
What that means is that platforms that either host or republish speech are protected. If you post on Facebook that you’re going to shoot up a school … and then you do it … Facebook can’t be held responsible or even negligent—even if people reported it.
The idea behind these provisions was to protect freedom of expression and innovation. It’s ironic, of course, because the original legislation was crafted to restrict free speech on the Internet. But the anti-free speech provisions were struck down by the Supreme Court, and CDA 230 remains.
It’s exactly what has allowed Facebook, Instagram, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter to censor conservatives. Not only are they not regulated … but there are regulations specifically in place that ALLOW them to discriminate. Keep in mind, political perspectives aren’t a protected class … and so it’s not considered “discrimination.”
This is the greatest existential threat we face to American democracy. Think about it for a second. We consume the vast majority of news and content through social media, Google, Apple products, etc. When you’re force fed one political ideology … when conservative politicians and companies and thought leaders can’t communicate with you on a level platform … then we face a grave threat. Politicians and the media are flipping out about some money Russia spent on Facebook ads while ignoring the fact that nobody is regulating the social media giants, which are controlling all of the content that enters your home.
The ONLY way we can face this threat and save our democracy is through amending Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act and beginning to regulate these giants as municipalities. And we need to get that message out there before we no longer have a chance.
Kyle S. Reyes is the Chief Executive Officer of The Silent Partner Marketing, co-host of The Whiskey Patriots and the National Spokesman for Law Enforcement Today. Reyes is also an acclaimed keynote speaker on patriotism and leadership, entrepreneurship and marketing by storytelling. You can follow him on Facebook.