None of the tech giants have responded to an ultimatum issued in September by the National Religious Broadcasters warning that the organization will lead a campaign urging Congress to remove special protections if they don’t stop censoring conservative viewpoints.
In a letter in September, NRB President Jerry Johnson gave the CEOs of Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter a Dec. 31, 2018, deadline to respond.
He warned that his umbrella organization, which claims to represent some 60 million Americans, would lobby Congress to remove legal protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
The internet legislation makes the tech giants immune from prosecution regarding making certain content available to minors, particularly pornography.
The tech companies insist their platforms do not discriminate against conservatives.
But Johnson told PJ Media on Monday the NRB has “documented over many years that they are consistently censoring political debate between conservatives and liberals, religious and philosophical debate between Christians and non-Christians, on issues like life, marriage and Islamic terrorism.”
His letter said that if Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter “do not take concrete action against censorship of Christian and conservative viewpoints by the end of this calendar year, then NRB will be calling for new hearings.”
“We prefer not to do that,” Johnson told PJ Media. “We are asking them to acknowledge the problem and adopt a voluntary free speech charter which would say, ‘This is a free speech zone.’”
A Twitter spokesman addressed the suspension of radio host and former congressional candidate Jesse Kelly.
“The account was temporarily suspended for violating the Twitter Rules and has been reinstated. We have communicated directly with the account owner,” the representative said.
Twitter has been caught “shadow banning” conservatives, in which the platform de-emphasizes certain accounts in search results.
PJ Media said Kelly has used his reinstated Twitter account to point out other censorship against conservatives. He wrote Monday that YouTube’s ban on Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes should concern all “right-leaning” people in the media world.
In his letter, Johnson said the tech companies need to take immediate action.
“Now – right now – it’s go-time for free speech,” said Johnson. … “Fix yourself or someone will try to fix you.”
Johnson said the NRB “has for years suggested a free speech charter based on First Amendment jurisprudence as the basis for an industry-crafted code of conduct.”
The First Amendment does not establish requirements for private companies. But when operations become so big that they effectively monopolize one segment of a market, the United States in the past has taken action to regulate them or break them up, which is what happened with the telephone monopoly.
The broadcasters are urging the companies to begin “to honor First Amendment values as refined by centuries of American jurisprudence and to faithfully apply those principles in their policies and practices.”
“It may or may not be intentional, but there is well-documented censorship, and that cannot be ignored forever by the people’s representatives in Congress,” said Johnson. “We need to be very careful not to stifle innovation or, worse, to open the door to Big Brother or an internet Fairness Doctrine. However, light touch doesn’t mean no touch.”