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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

1 hour ago - Health

India crosses 1 billion COVID vaccinations milestone

A health worker inoculates a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a man wearing face mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beawar, India, in September. Photo: Sumit Saraswat/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Thursday that the country's health workers have now administered more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses.

Of note: While this is a significant milestone for the country of 1.4 billion, which has been devastated by the coronavirus, only about 30% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, per AP. Roughly 75% has received at least one dose.

Trump says he plans to launch new social media network in 2022

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Wednesday announced plans to launch a social media network called "Truth Social," and that it would go public via a SPAC.

Why it matters: Most ex-presidents are focused on their legacies, by creating presidential libraries or engaging in philanthropic endeavors. Trump, however, remains consumed by social media.

Beauty giant Coty Cosmetics looking to sell its own branded products

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi. Photo: Axios on HBO

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi tells Axios the beauty giant will “probably” introduce Coty-branded products one day.

Why it matters: Coty produces some of the world’s most popular fragrances, skin care products and color cosmetics on behalf of other well-known brands, but has shied away from producing its own branded products.