EDITORIAL: Hang up the phone. take your voice back | opinion

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Colorado's former bartender, Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, warned Conservatives in Colorado on Friday of a growing threat: censorship by major tech companies controlling search results on the Internet and social media platforms.

He claims that progressives that own and control social media companies are determined to defeat his father and other conservatives in 2020. To that end, he says, companies are silencing the right middle and promoting the other side with generous circulation.

The president's oldest son spoke on Friday night at the Western Conservative Summit at the Colorado Convention Center, which took place all day Friday and Saturday, with thousands. His censorship remarks came one day after his father presided over the White House's "Presidential Social Media Summit" to discuss the high-tech censorship of his supporters and other conservatives.

Trump spoke on Friday as the last representative of well-known speakers – including Christians, Muslims, Jews and others – about threats to religious freedom and freedom of expression at home and abroad.

Trump said he has "some of the Trump gene," making him a compulsive social media expert.

"It's called Tourettes of the Thumbs," he joked, referring to a neurological disorder that causes repetitive and involuntary words and body movements. In recent years, his experience has changed on various social media platforms. He no longer feels free to communicate undisturbed.

"I looked at my Instagram platform about two years ago and said," That's crazy. "Over a period of one month, I had about 75 million impressions," Trump explained.

Suddenly, "I had no new followers. Even bots alone … it's a statistical impossibility, right? "Trump said," So I went from 15 per week to 12 per week to 10 per week, I just watch it shrink and I finally come to zero. "

As Trump travels the country to speak, supporters are increasingly telling him that they can not follow him on social media.

"I've let people say, 'I've had to follow you six times this week because every time I look up, I no longer follow you, but follow a leftist report that I've never tried to follow. & # 39; started calling it out, "said Trump. "Thousands started to reach me."

Conservatives tell him about social media giants who "de-platform" them by demonstrating their videos, blocking followers, turning off thumbs up and "love" features on Facebook and Twitter, with whom friends and followers share their ideas can support.

"Do you know what you never hear?" Trump asked. "You never hear about it from the other side."

Trump reported that Instagram censored him for asking actor Jussie Smollett's claim that two white Supremacists in MAGA hats had attacked him. The prosecution later accused Smollett of having invented the hate crime and filed a false police report.

"I was one of the first to say," If it's true, lock these people in and throw away the key. "But it did seem a bit weird," said Trump. "It was literally the coldest night of the year in Chicago. A truly prolific activist accidentally decided to take the subway at two in the morning … Two white men wearing MAGA hats walked around downtown Chicago and accidentally wore a sling and a bleach … I started to say this online. I ask simple questions and start being killed for it. "

Trump said that Instagram deleted his posts and told him in writing that he violated community standards.

"I was not even political," Trump said. "I said it sounds pretty weird and we should get to the bottom of it. None of that agreed with me. But I had the gall to question it. So my job was dismantled. "

He re-posted and explained how Instagram censored him. This led to a flood of followers who approached him with similar stories.

Before and after Trump's presentation on Friday, the summit participants reported on censorship on all major social media platforms. We've heard of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram deleting posts and entire abortion accounts, supporting Trump, religious freedom, Electoral College, gun rights, and other conservative causes.

Skeptics understandably want evidence, not just anecdotes. Representative David Cicilline, D-R.I., responded to the summit of the White House with a statement calling for "empirical data" to support allegations of anti-conservative censorship.

Data would be useful but might not be possible. It would require taking into account social interactions that no longer exist – information is destroyed so nobody can see it.

Besides, it probably would not stop proving politically motivated censorship. Private companies, unlike governments, have the right to censor content. Magazines, newspapers, bookstores, radio and television broadcasters often reject more content than they accept for publication, distribution or broadcasting. When users post on social media, they leave their content to the control of the platforms. We can all hope that public pressure will promote fair and just behavior, but we can not rely on it.

Companies only control the words we give them. Consumers who think about electronic censorship should be less dependent on social media giants.

Imagine putting down smartphones and reconnecting in an old-fashioned way. You can have a real conversation in cafes, churches, bars, restaurants and many other old-fashioned social events. Communities based on real interpersonal relationships, not bizarre and impersonal electronic exchanges, would be a force no company could count on.

The Gazette editors

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