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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

U.S. women's soccer team beats Netherlands, moves on to Olympic semifinals

Members of the U.S. women's soccer team celebrate after beating the Netherlands. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The U.S. women's soccer team beat the Netherlands in a penalty kick shootout on Friday, propelling them to the semifinals of the Olympic Games.

Why it matters: The win brings the U.S. team one step closer to its quest for a historic back-to-back double — winning the Olympics after emerging victorious at the Women's World Cup. The U.S. will play Canada in the semifinals next week.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - World

SEC clamps down on Chinese IPOs

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Chinese companies will be unable to go public in the U.S. unless they make new risk disclosures, according to a statement released Friday morning from SEC chair Gary Gensler.

Why it matters: Chinese companies, and tech startups in particular, are already under growing pressure from their own government. Now they're also getting squeezed by U.S. officials.

2 hours ago - Sports

U.S. swimmer Ryan Murphy causes stir with doping comments

Bronze medallist Britain's Luke Greenbank, gold medallist Russia's Evgeny Rylov and silver medallist USA's Ryan Murphy pose with their medals after the final of the men's 200m backstroke. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand /AFP via Getty Images

U.S. swimmer Ryan Murphy raised questions about the presence of doping in swimming following a second-place finish in the men's 200-meter backstroke on Thursday.

Driving the news: Murphy, who won gold in the 200-meter backstroke race in Rio, said following his race: "At the end of the day, I do believe there’s doping in swimming. That is what it is."