The recent purge of political dissidents from social media is unprecedented, and deserves a response from shareholders. Aside from President Trump, conservatives across Twitter and Facebook were at least temporarily banned, including conservative commentator Dan Bongino and former Congressman Ron Paul. Aside from those high-profile cases, tens of thousands of users have been purged from Twitter in the weeks following the January 6th riot. The justification for Trump’s ban was that there was an imminent danger to the country. That argument is a stretch to say the least, but even if we assumed it was true, it does not explain the numerous other examples of censorship. What danger did Dan Bongino pose? Was he in the middle of organizing a coup on Twitter? What about Ron Paul? What about the innumerable other users that were also banned? What does any of this have to do with protecting the country?
Of course, these bans aren’t about national security. They’re about ideology. Over and over, big tech has demonstrated that advancing left-wing ideology is their priority. The interests of their investors come second. Implying that a large percentage of the country is not welcome on your platform is not sound business strategy. It is ideological madness that destroys the wealth of their investors: over $50bn in combined market cap was lost by Twitter and Facebook after mass banning of conservatives.
Conservatives are right to be upset, and one does not need to have the slightest sympathy for the January 6th rioters (or even President Trump, for that matter) to believe that. It is in times like this, when corporations put political activism above the interests of their investors, that it becomes necessary for shareholders to assert their authority. And yet, amidst all the discourse around tech censorship, barely a word has been uttered about shareholder engagement.
Some conservatives are flirting with the idea of government regulation of social media to ensure free exchange of ideas, but any political action is at a minimum 4 years away. We have a Democratic President, House, and Senate. Regulation by Republican politicians is theoretical. Investor action is not.
And investors are certainly justified in acting. Twitter and Facebook are actively destroying their market share by encouraging anyone on the right to move to other platforms. If conservatives, Christians, libertarians, classical liberals, etc. feel they are held in contempt by the major social media companies, why wouldn’t they go somewhere else? If your account is always on the verge of getting banned simply because you do not hold to left-wing orthodoxy, why wouldn’t you find another platform?
Every time a mass banning takes place, Twitter and Facebook (directly or indirectly) aid their competitors and harm their investors. Remember: Facebook and Twitter are publicly traded. That means they are owned by their shareholders. If a public corporation is acting against the interests of their shareholders, it is incumbent on those shareholders to act. We can talk all day about how unfair their standards are, about how they’re hurting their shareholders, and about how big tech is dividing the country, but nothing changes if investors do not use their authority and act.
Investors can propose and vote on shareholder resolutions asking, for instance, for an explanation as to why so many of their own customers were banned for seemingly no reason. Or perhaps a resolution calling for an explanation as to why there are no programs whatsoever to encourage the hiring of people with different viewpoints and ideological backgrounds. You will likely see these kinds of resolutions on the proxy ballot at their next shareholder meetings. Investors can also vote for (and against) members of the Board. Every year, resolutions are proposed by conservatives to rein in the political activism of corporations. But these resolutions fail to pass because, with a few notable exceptions, conservative shareholders consistently fail to show up. Every investor who is troubled by the blatant political bias at big tech ought to know their rights as shareholders and then exercise them.
The only reason these tech giants can get away with putting politics above their duty to shareholders is because we, as conservatives, have consistently failed to engage in the boardroom. If you’re an investor in these companies (and many are – these are some of the largest companies in the world), you can have an impact. Complaining about Twitter’s censorship on Twitter does nothing. Debating whether the government should regulate Twitter does nothing. But shareholder engagement works – if we do it. The problem, in essence, is that conservatives boycott while the left engages. It’s about time we start showing up instead.
If you are a Twitter or Facebook shareholder, consider contacting the companies through their investor relations department below and letting them know what you think about what they are doing with your money.
Twitter investor relations page: https://investor.twitterinc.com/contact/default.aspx
Facebook investor relations page: https://investor.fb.com/corporate-governance/?section=contact