On June 11, LiveAction, a major pro-life organization, and the investigative journalism group Project Veritas, announced that Pinterest, a social media platform with 291 million monthly users, was censoring LiveActionand other conservative posts by blocking their content as pornographic and spreading “misinformation and conspiracy theories about anti-vaxxers.”
Prior to the information being released, Project Veritasreached out to Pinterest for a comment about why it suspended LiveAction’saccount. A source within Pinterest said LiveAction’spro-life account “may have immediate and detrimental effects on a Pinner’s health or on public safety.” This information was revealed by a whistleblower, Eric Cochran, through ProjectVeritasalong with physical evidence including internal memos. Cochran was later fired by Pinterest for his role in the expose.
Cochran also discussed with Project Veritasthe various ways Pinterest also hides posts or quietly removes the content without notifying the user. They also targeted posts by famous conservative pundit Ben Shapiro as well as posts labelled and tagged as Christian. Pinterest went as far as banning LiveActionfounder Lila Rose’s personal account where she was pinning ideas for her wedding and other personal boards.
The report suggests that Pinterest, along with other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, has an ideological and systemic bias against the pro-life and conservative movement which has left many conservatives frustrated due to the unfair double-standard. LiveActionand its CEO Lila Rose for years have been prohibited from advertising on Facebook and Twitter, and yet Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups have been permitted to post ads. Twitter will only let LiveActionadvertise if it removes all “graphic images” including all ultrasound images. (The ultrasound of Rose’s unborn baby when she announced her pregnancy was also banned on Twitter.). It also required LiveActionto remove its viral videos on abortion techniques. These requests not only prevent a legitimate business from advertising but effectively also gag groups such as LiveActionfrom using ultrasound images and videos as their bread and butter content.
Twitter and Pinterest aren’t the only social media platforms that censor conservatives. After the video of the Pinterest whistleblower was published, YouTube deleted Project Veritas’ video report, citing “privacy” violations and informing the organization that it could not show the name of the employee at Pinterest who placed LiveActionon the block list or the documentation of that action despite his consent to have the video being made and published.
This situation isn’t the first time social media and big tech have tried to censor voices with which they disagree.
In April this year, the movieUnplannedexperienced issues with its Twitter account and was temporarily suspended due to an “error.” When the account was restored after a backlash, people attempting to follow the account were unable to do so, or those who did follow were quickly removed from the account. Twitter has also targeted many outspoken pro-life advocates by removing followers and hiding tweets and suspending or banning them for the silliest reason, yet people on the left who bully, dox (searching and publishing private information of an individual on the internet for malicious reasons), and endorse violence are never reprimanded.
This latest string of censorship has also affected LifeSiteNewsas well. Days after its submission to have its articles featured on Apple News was approved, the decision was overturned and all content was subsequently deleted. Apple claimed in an email that LifeSite’schannel “didn’t comply with our Apple News guidelines.” Specifically, Apple stated thatLifeSite’s“channel content showed intolerance towards a specific group.” Apple’s e-mail provided no details about which content was deemed offensive, or which “specific group” towards which LifeSite’scontent allegedly showed intolerance. Apple reversed its decision following protests by thousands of LifeSiteNewssupporters.
Censorship by big tech isn’t illegal as the First Amendment and the right to free speech doen’t apply to the private sector. Therefore there is not much an average citizen can do except complain to the company and try to reverse the suspension or ban. However, this situation has caught the attention of U.S. lawmakers in particular Republican Senators Ted Cruz (Texas) and Josh Hawley (Missouri). Hawley has introduced a bill to stop Big Tech censorship by stripping these massive corporations of platform protections if said companies do not maintain political neutrality. TheEnding Support for Internet Censorship Act specifically addresses how massive tech platforms are treated under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Hawley explained “With Section 230, tech companies get a sweetheart deal that no other industry enjoys: complete exemption from traditional publisher liability in exchange for providing a forum free of political censorship.” Under the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, tech giants could only ensure their government-granted immunity by bringing “transparency and accountability to their editorial processes and prove that they don’t discriminate.”