A new study that dismissed concerns that Big Tech favors liberals and was widely shared by members of the mainstream media was bankrolled by a far-left mega-donor to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
Conservatives have long accused Big Tech and social media giants of widespread bias, but the New York University study, "False Accusation: The Unfounded Claim that Social Media Companies Censor Conservatives," brushed away the notion that companies such as Facebook and Twitter favor liberals.
The study was "funded by Craig Newmark, a billionaire tech titan who donated $100,000 to Biden’s campaign victory fund," wrote Daily Caller investigative reporter Chuck Ross, who first identified Newmark’s political leanings.
Ross noted that NYU did not disclose the Craigslist founder’s political views. Newmark has also donated to a variety of other liberal groups and causes, including the Democratic National Committee itself.
"He donated tens of thousands of dollars to President [Barack] Obama’s campaign, the Hillary Clinton campaign and to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi," Ross wrote.
In addition to swatting away claims of liberal bias, the study also defended Facebook and Twitter’s decisions to ban President Trump from their platforms following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
The study, written by Paul M. Barrett and J. Grant Sims of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, accuses conservatives of pushing disinformation and falsehoods about Big Tech despite "no reliable evidence" to support any type of partisan bias. It also calls for the Biden administration to "pursue a constructive reform agenda for social media," work with Congress to update Section 230, and create a "new Digital Regulatory Agency."
The study authors didn’t hide who funded their work, thanking Newmark in the acknowledgements for his "continued guidance and financial support."
"It was enough to disclose that Craig Newmark provides the Center with financial support," Barrett told the Daily Caller.
Newmark also gave millions to the Poynter Institute, including a $1 million grant to establish the Craig Newmark Journalism Ethics Chair in 2017.
Poynter, which operates PolitiFact, infamously published a blacklist of 515 websites it deemed "unreliable" in 2019. The overwhelming majority were conservative, and it encouraged advertisers to not support them. Poynter ultimately apologized for the report, which was penned by an employee of the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center.
Newmark has also called on Big Tech platforms to "take action" against "bad actors" online.
"The social media platform[s] know who the bad actors are. They know who the foreign adversaries are, they know who their domestic allies are," Newmark said on the Digiday podcast last year. "They should take action against all of them."
Conservatives have accused social media platforms of everything from shadow banning them to restricting free speech. Former Facebook employees admitted in 2016 to restricting news stories of interest to conservative readers from its "trending" section, and Big Tech employees have overwhelmingly favored Democrats in their political donations.
NYU researchers dismissed complaints by citing, in part, heavy traffic for conservative sites from Facebook.
The study was popular among mainstream journalists on Monday.
The Verge wrote, "NYU researchers find no evidence of anti-conservative bias on social media," while a Washington Post story was headlined, "New report calls conservative claims of social media censorship 'a form of disinformation.’"
USA Today published a story, "Do Facebook, Twitter and YouTube censor conservatives? Claims 'not supported by the facts,' new research says."
CNN also took the study as gospel.
"A new report from New York University researchers found — and really try not to be too shocked here — that right-wing claims of anti-conservative bias from Big Tech don't hold water. In fact, the report characterized such claims as ‘a form of disinformation,’ calling the larger idea of bias ‘a falsehood with no reliable evidence to support it,’" a CNN reporter write in the liberal network’s media newsletter.
But not everyone bought it, and Brad Polumbo condemned the study in an opinion piece published by the Washington Examiner.
"One can only wonder if the NYU researchers slept through the last five years," Polumbo wrote, citing the blackout of the infamous New York Post report on Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings as an obvious example of Big Tech bias.
"No, conservative claims of social media bias are not ‘disinformation,’" Polumbo wrote.
Fox News’ David Rutz contributed to this report.