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Bre­itbart is a popular new site in American that goes against the norm. Courtesy | wiki­media

It’s time for the gov­ernment to reg­ulate plat­forms to prevent political manip­u­lation through cen­sorship, argued Larry Solov, co-founder and CEO of Bre­itbart News, in his Center for Con­structive Alter­na­tives speech on “Big Tech” Tuesday. 

In his talk titled “The Case for Reg­u­lation,” Solov shared some of his per­sonal expe­ri­ences with social media’s cen­sorship of con­ser­v­ative news media. Bre­itbart has become one of the most popular sources for right-wing, con­ser­v­ative media, largely because of the approach to jour­nalism adopted by the organization’s founder, Andrew Bre­itbart, who died of a heart attack in 2012.

“Andrew believed that there was no such thing as objective news reporting,” Solov said. “What he meant by that is that point of view is inevitable. As hard as you try to keep out point of view, you can’t.”

According to Solov, Bre­itbart was frus­trated that the main­stream media pre­sented stories under what he called a “false guise of objec­tivity.” Main­stream media’s decision to pick and choose which stories to report on and then do so while denying any sort of bias pre­sented a concern that Bre­itbart sought to fix.

“To Andrew, the solution was that you still had to report the truth, but to dis­close your point of view to your reader,” Solov said. “Let the con­sumer be informed of your point of view and then let the reader make the decision as to whether they like your reporting.”

Bre­itbart News is now one of America’s top news sites, with one of the most engaged Facebook pages worldwide. However, as a prominent media orga­ni­zation with a clear con­ser­v­ative bias, it has more recently run into issues with the elec­tronic media plat­forms it uses for cir­cu­lation of its content.

Solov described how Google has “prac­ti­cally purged” Bre­itbart from its search results. In the run up to the 2020 election, Google decreased the number of times they referred users to Bre­itbart by approx­i­mately 450%. Fol­lowing the 2016 election, Google sup­pressed Bretibart’s search vis­i­bility by 99.7%. Starting in early May of this year, Google did not once refer a user to a Bre­itbart story for searches on Joe Biden or Joe Biden-related terms.

Solov also men­tioned that  Facebook has become increas­ingly hostile to Bre­itbart through its new fact-checking program. Several of Breitbart’s stories have been flagged by Facebook’s “third-party fact checkers,” often­times simply because the fact-checkers dis­agreed with the Bre­itbart authors’ political opinions drawn from often undis­puted facts. There is no appeals process to Facebook for such fact-checks.

In response to the wide­spread cen­sorship and sup­pression of con­ser­v­ative content on these social media plat­forms, Solov called for bipar­tisan support for reg­u­lation of the plat­forms.

“Too many con­ser­v­a­tives are, for philo­sophical and business-theory reasons, against solu­tions requiring reg­u­lation, antitrust, leg­is­lation, and gov­ernment inter­vention,” Solov said. “When dis­cussing potential solu­tions, don’t take any­thing off the table. The only chance of con­vincing ‘Big Tech’ to govern them­selves better is the fear that if they don’t, it’s going to be over for them.”

Senior eco­nomics major Michaela Stiles attended the talk, and while she found it inter­esting and infor­mative, she dis­agreed with Solov’s sug­gested reg­u­latory solution to the “Big Tech” problem.

“There is almost no rea­sonable case to be made for reg­u­lation by politi­cians in the Big Tech industry,” Stiles said. “I per­sonally don’t agree with reg­u­lation because it creates unnec­essary bar­riers to entry and elim­i­nates healthy com­pe­tition. Even if reg­u­lation of Big Tech is a good idea, we would have to trust that the politi­cians are good or well-inten­tioned enough to create good leg­is­lation.”