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Digital Electioneering: Shifty Media Practices During the 2020 Races

The 2020 presidential race has been a great opportunity to illuminate shady practices, both in politics and in private life. Much like with 2016, it has made it easy to identify mental gymnasts on your Facebook friends list, and which businesses will donate to which side of the aisle. But most of all, it has made media deceptions easier to spot.

As far back as Ben Shapiro’s famous book Primetime Propaganda, it can be observed that the industry has long been complicit in extensive political favoritism (and ostracism). Although it can be said that the media has had a bias for many decades, without a doubt it’s come to a head in recent years as rampant activity to confirm and conform to these prejudices has become commonplace.

In recent years, there are countless examples of this extending to social media platforms. A digital revolution, comrade! Sarcasm aside, these kinds of biases are near impossible to directly prove, making it extremely viable for personal interests (or even a collective group interests) to change the system for their political benefit. Countless examples exist of partisan deplatforming conservatives , and it can even be extended to blatant favoritism of certain types of content creators simply on policy, such as the two-way street of Twitch’s ban policy of the regular streamer versus that of, say, Alinity.

But it can even go beyond that, to fixing algorithms in favor of certain content, and especially suppressing the more “controversial” media or posts on their platform.

Even as far back as 2017, the phenomenon can be observed, with YouTube creator RazorFist especially bringing it to light (and was further discussed between us in this podcast from The Heartland Institute). It really can be seen that although some content will outperform the media’s status quo, suppression is real in spite of what ought to be a relevance-based search metric.

The trend that he found hasn’t changed. In fact, in a previously written article on Joe Biden’s goofs and gaffes, sourcing became incredibly difficult as clips that normally would be found by simply searching the quote returned nothing of the sort. Chiefly, the “North South Carolina” segment from one of Mr. Biden’s earlier campaign speeches was impossible to find by the aforementioned quote.

The underhandedness of such behavior is nearly impossible to prove sans the intervention of whistleblowers, the rare few taking notes from their predecessors like James Damore or Tim Pool. Media is a broad and nebulous concept, which by nature has a consumer base with likewise broad and nebulous opinions. Not that consumer revolt isn’t without its druthers, but generally it comes down to public notions as to whether or not something is “acceptable” if it meets these conditions, and only if it happens to be publicly revealed beyond any hushing attempts.

These digital media companies will seldom openly admit to these kinds of actions, especially since it often goes against their stated code of conduct or user guidelines. As with any social issue, the solution is a hardy level of due diligence, which is the only real way to enact change. Not only must consumers be vigilant in observing the practices of companies and those few on the inside speak out against deceptive bias, but there must also be some level of accounting for the problem whenever any of us read the news. Doing our best to detect these subtle changes is paramount to keeping our electoral actions safe, and not letting ourselves be duped by the whims of others.

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