By: Robert Davis
Maybe the most pernicious cultural shift created in the wake of social media is the invention of the social media mob: a collective of individuals who will stop at nothing to silence those with whom they disagree.
They troll and bombard pro-gun users with hate-filled rhetoric and threaten the safety of gun owners and their families with “doxxing,” a term describing the publication of personal information online that can be used to track individuals offline.
Now, these mobs are helping Silicon Valley win the war against gun rights.
Arbiter of Truth
Social media platforms like Twitter have been called to testify before multiple Congressional committees for various reasons, including allegedly helping the Russians interfere in the 2016 elections and shadow banning right-leaning individuals for posting ideological content.
Each time the companies went before Congress, they parroted the same line: “We do not make determination of whether to ban someone or not based on political ideology.”
Some recent research shows that nothing could be further from the truth.
In 2018, John Lott, a Fox News contributor and author of several pro-Second Amendment books, was banned for tweeting out a part of the Christchurch killer’s manifesto that proved the killer wanted more gun control legislation to be passed following the shooting. Lott’s tweet linked an article posted on his website that was also linked to the part of the manifesto that proved his tweet correct. Nevertheless, Twitter decided to ban Lott simply because he told a politically incorrect truth about the shooting.
Furthermore, a study by the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University found that of the 25 most active social media users who were banned in 2016, 21 of them supported Donald Trump.
Following the mass shooting in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas in August, the leaders of the social media behemoths again went to Washington, but this time they lobbied representatives to take decisive action and pass gun control laws.
Some of the proposals outlined in a letter signed by 145 of America’s largest companies that was submitted to Congress include red flag laws and universal background checks.
"These proposals are common-sense, bipartisan, and widely supported by the American public," the letter reads.
But gun rights advocates say these proposals are evidence that Silicon Valley is trying to skew the playing field against them by using the First Amendment to stymie the Second Amendment.
“I don’t think the government should have access to anybody’s history, especially for pistol permits,” one shooting range owner told AP news. “And the state police have enough to worry about besides checking everyone’s social media.”
Given the tense political climate surrounding gun rights, gun owners are increasingly likely to experience the social media culture war over guns firsthand. Messages sent by anti-gunners are often threatening in nature. The social media companies, though, refuse to take action against those with whom they are politically aligned and instead focus their efforts on those who support causes they deem to be detestable.
Raising an Army
During the 2016 election cycle, social media companies donated more than $1 million to Democrats running for office, according to records by OpenSecrets.Org, a non-profit organization that tracks money in American politics.
So far in the 2020 cycle, these companies have continued their support for Leftist candidates by endorsing members who support gun control legislation.
Twitter has already donated nearly $20,000 between Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), both of whom have said they will pass strict gun control legislation within their first 100 days if elected president.
Similarly, Facebook has thrown its financial weight behind Pete Buttigieg (D-IN), who told voters in Dayton, Ohio in August that President Trump should bear some responsibility for recent mass shootings and that he would ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines if elected.
"I think the weapons of war can do no good in American neighborhoods," Buttigieg told CNN. "I trained on weapons that are similar to these, and they have one purpose, which is to destroy as much as possible as quickly as possible. They have tactical uses in war zones. Since when are American cities and neighborhoods supposed to be war zones?"
Buttigieg’s argument uses the same tactics that many social media companies employ to make their point. It equates two separate problems—that of housing and war, in this instance—to argue for policies that would punish law-abiding individuals for the acts of criminals.
Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that gun control policies would not decrease mass shootings—or violent crime itself for that matter—social media continues to raise an army of voices who use alternative facts to advocate for this cause.
Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. Contact him with tips or comments at RobertDavis0414 (at) gmail dot com.