June 08, 2018
They're four of the biggest names on the internet -- and right now, they have one thing in common: a dangerous partnership with SPLC. Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Twitter are no lightweights when it comes to market influence, so the news they're all leaning (in some way or another) on the extremists at Southern Poverty Law Center is giving conservatives plenty to think about.
The Daily Caller, the same outlet who broke the story about Google's cozy relationship with SPLC, did some digging and discovered that America's most recognizable search engine was just the tip of the technology iceberg. On some level, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter also rely on Morris Dees's embarrassment of an organization, despite the fresh wave of skepticism over -- not just SPLC's legitimacy, but its shady business dealings. For the first time since the FBI, U.S. Army, and Obama Justice Department distanced themselves from Dees's group, the SPLC seems to have found a home at these companies, filtering out – or, more accurately, shutting down -- anything it deems hateful (which, based on its past labeling, could include anyone from House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson).
It's been quite a comeback story for an organization that, just last year helped inspire a gunman to attack a congressional baseball practice – and before that, gave Floyd Corkins directions to FRC's office for another shooting. Of course, SPLC, which has struggled to regain its legitimacy, got some help from heavyweights like Apple and JP Morgan – both of whom sank hundreds of thousands of dollars into the group's progressive hit operation. Now, they stand to silence even more conservatives, working not-so-undercover to weed out dialogue on social media and America's largest retailer.
Amazon, by far the biggest advocate of SPLC, made no bones about its relationship, insisting it gives the organization carte blanche to police people as it sees fit. And police it has, particularly in the Amazon Smile program, which just dropped a mainstream legal defense group – Alliance Defending Freedom – from its list of approved charities. ADF, Amazon explained, was blocked for being a "hate group." A "hate group," incidentally, that just won a blockbuster case at the Supreme Court this week. Still, an Amazon spokeswoman said, "We remove organizations that the SPLC deems as ineligible." No questions asked. When the Daily Caller pushed for an explanation, she said, "because we don't want to be biased whatsoever," said the spokeswoman.
If it's bias they're worried about, then what on earth are they doing with an organization that even Politico argues "abuses its position as an arbiter of hatred?" Politico's Ben Schreckinger, like the Wall Street Journal, became suspicious of the former "civil rights group" when it started "labeling legitimate players 'hate groups' and 'extremists' to keep the attention of its liberal donors and grind a political ax." As more and more conservatives find themselves on the losing end of political correctness, people want to know: why would anyone – let alone Amazon or Google – trust SPLC to treat their users fairly?
Facebook, for its part, seemed less enthusiastic about SPLC's involvement, insisting that they aren't nearly as reliant on Dees's group as the other three. "The SPLC is on a list of 'external experts and organizations' that Facebook works with 'to inform our hate speech policies,' Facebook's Ruchika Budhraja told the Daily Caller. "Budhraja emphasized that Facebook's definition of 'hate group' is distinct from the SPLC's definition and said that Facebook consults with groups across the political spectrum.
"We have our own process and our processes are different and I think that's why we get the criticism [from the SPLC], because organizations that are hate organizations by their standards don't match ours," Budhraja said. "That doesn't mean that we don't have a process in place, and that definitely doesn't mean we want the platform to be a place for hate but we aren't going to map to the SPLC's list or process."
That doesn't sit too well with SPLC, who last month took a major swipe Facebook for not doing enough to stop the wave of supposed anti-Muslim sentiment. "While Facebook has made strides in removing hateful content with anti-Muslim hate," the group argues, "it faces a challenge that infects all of American society. In the end, the company will have to decide what it values most. Today, anti-Muslim content finds a home on Facebook."
Dennis Prager describes the SPLC as an anti-hate group that is a hate group. No wonder conservatives are banding together to call for "equal treatment on tech and social media" -- something these companies are ensuring is much easier said than done.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.