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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Researchers at New York University have released a new study that dispels the allegations made repeatedly by conservative lawmakers and members of the conservative media that Big Tech companies intentionally censor their viewpoints.

Why it matters: For years, Republicans have used unproven allegations of censorship as a threat to regulate tech companies or demonize them as enemies of conservatives.

Details: The report shows evidence that conservative politicians and media outlets received just as much, if not more, interaction on social platforms than their liberal counterparts.

  • "Conservatives are drawn to the established platforms for the same reason liberals are: That’s where you can reach the largest audiences and enjoy the benefits of the network effect," the researchers write.
  • "And as much as they condemn supposed social media favoritism, conservatives appear to relish wielding the bias-claim cudgel, even though it’s based on distortions and falsehoods,” they conclude.
  • The report credits financial support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, which funds journalism and anti-disinformation projects, and also thanks various staffers from Google, Twitter and Facebook.

By the numbers: The report points out how Trump dominated Biden in Facebook engagement from Sept. 3 to Nov. 3 of last year, with Trump having 87% of 307 million total interactions and Biden having only 13%.

  • Trump also had 654 million total Facebook interactions, more than any U.S. elected official, from Jan. 1 to Nov. 3, 2020.
  • Fox News and Breitbart far outperformed other news outlets on Facebook interactions between Jan. 1 and Nov. 3, 2020.
  • Citing numbers from Transparency Tube, the report says the left and the right get roughly the same number of views on YouTube.

Be smart: The mainstream press and tech companies have long tried to assure everyday consumers that these allegations are unsubstantiated, but conservatives have thus far been successful in planting that narrative.

  • A Pew Research Center poll in August 2019 found that most Americans think social media platforms censor political viewpoints.

The big picture: "Silencing" and censorship will be to the modern Republican Party what Big Government was in the '90s — "an all-purpose target designed to inflame feelings of victimhood," Axios' Mike Allen noted last week.

The bottom line: “The claim of anti-conservative animus [on the part of social media companies] is itself a form of disinformation: a falsehood with no reliable evidence to support it," the NYU researchers write.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

45 mins ago - World

Mapped: The world's most and least corrupt countries

Expand chart
Data: Transparency International; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

The most corrupt governments in the world are in South Sudan, Syria and Somalia, according to Transparency International's annual index, while the "cleanest" are in Denmark, Finland and New Zealand.

  • Breaking it down: The U.S. is 27th, China 66th, India 85th, Brazil 96th and Russia 136th. Scroll over the map to see each country's ranking.

Crypto leads to massive surge in online scams

Expand chart
Reproduced from FTC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Bogus cryptocurrency investments led to an unprecedented increase in online scams last year, according to new data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Why it matters: Cryptocurrency is an easy target because while it's surging in popularity, there's still a lot of confusion about how it works.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

New clues emerge on long COVID

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The presence of certain autoantibodies or high amounts of coronavirus RNA in the blood could be indicators a patient has a higher chance of developing long COVID, according to a new study in the journal Cell.

  • Other factors include a person having Type 2 diabetes or the reactivation of the Epstein-Barr virus.