Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have been exposed for silencing journalism critical of Joe Biden and censoring conservative viewpoints they disagree with, according to Sky News Digital Editor Jack Houghton.
Mr Houghton revealed that Facebook’s fact checkers attempted to censor a Sky News Australia story about Joe Biden making an on-air gaffe where he referred to “four more years of George”.
“Fact-checkers” appointed by the tech giant ordered Sky News Australia to publish a statement on its website before Facebook would stop downgrading the network in its algorithms.
“If an anonymous fact checker living on the other side of the world subjectively disagrees with the story based on their own gut-judgement, they can block it, ban your social channel and disrupt your revenue streams instantly,” Mr Houghton said.
“The risk for reporting the truth has to be balanced against anticipating backlash from Silicon Valley.
“This extraordinarily depressing truth is hogtying news organisations globally, narrowing the field of acceptable discourse and creating anti-intellectual commentary which results in an echo-chamber in news reporting.”
Mr Houghton said in recent weeks Facebook had overreached to the extent it attempted to hide some Sky News Australia content from viewers until headlines and text were changed – not on Facebook – on the network’s own website.
“Facebook is no longer just a platform, they are publishers and every day they are dictating editorial policy at news organisations around the world,” Mr Houghton said.
The problem has become so bad that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were hauled before a US Senate inquiry this week and ordered to explain why it appeared only conservative journalism and content was being censored.
Dorsey was even asked why Twitter regularly labelled Donald Trump’s links as fake news when it ignored content from Iranian dictators calling for an end to Israel through “firm armed resistance”.
In response, Dorsey defended the anti-Semitic speech on his platform because: “We think believe it is important for everyone to hear from global leaders.”
Mr Houghton said Dorsey’s answer was dangerous and demonstrated tech giants needed to be reined in.
“The New York Post refused to bend its news reporting to Dorsey’s will and in return he banned them from posting on Twitter, indefinitely.
“Tech giants – such as Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg – are so powerful they think they are accountable to no one.
“Perhaps it is time to re-write the rules of the game and introduce legislation to force these tech companies to keep their biases and opinions out of newsrooms.”