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NAT’L – GUN CONTROL – Will Big Tech Gun Censorship Affect the 2020 Election

Imagine if, in the early 20th century, the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst not only grew from owning a single newspaper in San Francisco to building a media empire in New York and beyond, which he did, but also was able to build a company that could actually control private conversations between individual Americans. More than that, imagine if he could silence companies he didn’t like by simply banning or “shadow banning” them from his vast communication platforms. And then, with this control over speech, imagine how he could really have begun to influence elections. Now you’re getting an idea of how much power San Francisco-based tech firms currently have as we close in on a presidential election this November 3. All of this would be nothing more than a plot for a dystopian fiction author if these companies—Google, Facebook, Twitter…—were only interested in maintaining nonpartisan platforms for free expression. The thing is, when it comes to guns, they are not. The official policies, the secret algorithms and the bias from management who mostly have the same politics in these billion-dollar social-media companies is affecting gun-related companies big and small. For Jessica Keffer, the marketing manager at The Sportsman’s Shop in East Earl, Penn., wrestling with the arbitrary “rules” of the social-media censors has become a daily burden and a steep impediment to the survival of her small business. “The issues we have experienced directly relate to our attempts to ‘boost’ or promote our posts through Facebook and Instagram. We have had content approved and then disapproved,” Keffer said. “We have been told that, because our website states we sell firearms, and the ads direct to our website, they are not permitted, as they are against their policies.” As a result, the company is allowed to post content, but not to advertise. If Keffer happens to get a response from a real person, and not a robot, when she appeals, it is usually along the lines of “it’s because you have a link to your website on your page which does sell firearms. That’s also against our policies, I’m afraid.”  [full article]

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