When Doug and I first started the ‘Grok in May, 2006, we just wanted a place to put our opinions and figured that we might, at BEST, get 4 or 5 people to read our musings. Now almost 12 years later, we’ve had millions of visits, more than our share of Instalaunches and posts that went national, and I’ve had fun doing it!
RightWingNews was one of the national blogs that linked to us in that early time – something that I’ll always be thankful to John Hawkins for because that linking meant we weren’t as nuts as sometimes we thought we were. Someone actually thought we had ideas sufficiently intriguing to spend time with us. Now, years later, John has announced, like many other blogs that we have outlasted, that RightWingNews is shutting down.
He writes about it over at Townhall and given our history, I am reproducing it in full because it isn’t just about RightWingNews or GraniteGrok but what Conservatives are starting to see in the online public square – not a government censoring but a high tech one from the Jumbo Corps that have swung hard Left (emphasis mine) and wish to deny Conservativism any oxygen by any means possible:
How Conservatives Are Being Destroyed by Facebook, Twitter and Google Without Even Realizing It
Today, as you read this, my website Right Wing News is shutting down operations. It has been around since 2001, but became massive a few years ago because of Facebook. Remember the mainstream media liberals going out of their minds because the Russians reached almost 150 million people with their $100,000 Facebook ad buy? In July of 2015, in just a week, the Right Wing News Facebook page reached 133 million people. Because conservatives were sharing content they were interested in, little ol’ Right Wing News (well, I guess nearly 3.6 million Facebook likes isn’t so little) was driving the same amount of web traffic as some of the biggest newspapers in America. Barack Obama’s Facebook page was 36 times bigger than our page; yet we had 7 times as many people talking about our content.
Ironically, that’s a big part of what killed the website.
You see, what Facebook giveth, Facebook can take away. So, why would Facebook want to kill extremely successful Facebook pages that its users enjoyed?
One of the reasons goes back to something I told multiple reporters during the 2016 election. I believe that all of the thriving right wing Facebook pages activated large numbers of what I like to think of as “instinctive conservatives.” You know, the sort of people who love God, guns and America, but who don’t follow politics day to day, read National Review or consume any of Milton Friedman’s books. From what I could see on Facebook, that group of people LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Donald Trump and I believe they were responsible for getting him the GOP nomination and probably even got him over the hump in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. I think the liberals that run Facebook came to that same conclusion.
Before the election season got into full swing, Facebook had already made some mild downgrades to reach. Afterwards, when liberal mainstream media outlets were screaming about Russian ad buys and “fake news,” Facebook systematically, methodically reduced the reach of all its pages with each algorithm change. By then, most of us understood where it was going long-term. If Facebook killed every conservative page overnight, there would be a huge outcry. On the other hand, if Facebook slowly strangled us to death, we’d fade away and would people even notice?
Yes, non-political pages were affected, too, although conservative pages got it worse and, yes, there is a business incentive to do this. When people click on a news story, they leave Facebook. On the other hand, conservative pages like Right Wing News were able to become so massive because we are putting out content an awful lot of people on Facebook want to read. That’s no longer going to be allowed in part because we’re putting out a message that the liberals who run the company don’t want out there.
In addition to that, as someone who has been working for a living in this business since 2005,…
Sidenote: John has been one of the very few independent professional bloggers since the beginning. Unlike the ‘Groksters who have full-time jobs (or had) and do this on a voluntary basis, RWN (a solo blogger) was how he made his living; although he added others the last few years because the business model changed.
…let me drop a little truth bomb on you. We are now in a very oversaturated, corporation-dominated media environment. If you don’t already have a legacy website that captured traffic years ago and held onto it, huge traffic you can bring in from elsewhere, or millions of dollars to spend, your chances of getting a political website off the ground today are infinitesimal.
GraniteGrok started as a local blog, then grew to be statewide,]. It reached the level between a state level and a national level blog a few years after we “opened our doors.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to go full time (or even part-time) and we have families to support. So, we were happy to do what we were doing – a fairly well read small political blog that has consistently outpunched its weight in a small state with respect to influence and reach. But John is right. Almost without exception, the “indie” blogs are pretty much gone (as far as being national ones) unless they hook up with a much larger corporation to sponsor/host them. He goes on to explain the NEW model and why it deliberately won’t work for Conservatives much longer.
That gets to the heart of the biggest problem conservatives don’t realize that they have.
Social media IS the new public square. It’s the place you go when you want to reach out and find an audience.
…….Except Facebook has for all intents and purposes announced that it’s killing off pages. So much for having a conservative voice there.
As James O’Keefe just revealed in his latest sting, Twitter felt comfortable banning pro-Trump accounts and one of his unwitting sources said, “Yeah you look for Trump, or America, and you have like five thousand keywords to describe a redneck. Then you look and parse all the messages, all the pictures, and then you look for stuff that matches that stuff.” Charles Johnson, who’s a conservative gadfly, is currently suing Twitter because it admitted that he didn’t violate Twitter’s policies; Twitter just wanted to get rid of him. It’s good to know that if you’re conservative, you can spend years building up an audience on Twitter and the liberals at Twitter can arbitrarily throw you off their service because they decide they don’t like your views.
Speaking of building up an audience on a platform for years and then getting screwed, YouTube is also doing that to conservatives. YouTube arbitrarily decided that many conservative videos should be demonetized. Yes, there were profane or gross liberals demonetized as well, but just presenting a conservative point of view was enough to have YouTube cut people off. Dennis Prager’s PragerU is suing YouTube for exactly that reason. Just to give you an example of the sort of content YouTube thinks is over-the-line, here are some of the videos it demonetized: Why America Must Lead, The Ten Commandments: Do Not Murder, Why Did America Fight the Korean War, and The World’s Most Persecuted Minority: Christians. Of course, YouTube would claim that it’s not censoring the videos because it didn’t take them down. However, people are not going to spend large amounts of time and money putting together high-production-value videos if they’re not going to be allowed to make money on those videos because of their political beliefs.
Furthermore, YouTube’s radically liberal parent company Google is being sued by James Damore for targeting white men and conservatives. Incidentally, Damore was fired from Google after he wrote an internal memo for other employees to read (something that is common at Google) called, Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber: How bias clouds our thinking about diversity and inclusion. Don’t kid yourself because if you are conservative, “diversity” and “inclusion” don’t include you. If you want a more concrete example of that besides its heavily biased search engine which pretty clearly prefers liberal sources over conservative ones, the latest controversy with Google is that if you search for many prominent conservative websites, it has a “fact checking section” next to them while many sketchy liberal websites don’t.
And GraniteGrok is getting that as well, even as small as we are on the grand scale of things. Go ahead, go to Google and just type in GraniteGrok. While the fact-checking part has been pulled (shoulda taken a screenshot – my bad), there still is Google info there. Put in Miscellany Blue, a progressive NH site, and no such checking is done. Put in Gateway Pundit and you see the slurring box called Reviewed Claims that won’t pop up on Liberal sites (at least the ones I checked). And those Reviewed Claims are done by Left to Hard Left groups or individuals. A similar thing is going on at Twitter (where we are shadowbanned from time to time).
Many of these companies effectively became monopolies because they worked hard to serve ALL of their users. Now that they completely dominate their spaces in the marketplace, their liberal political views are impacting their services. As Robert Conquest once said, “Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing” and that is a much bigger threat than most conservatives realize.
It’s easy to say, “Build your own social media website and compete with them,” but we’re talking about companies with billions of dollars and monopolistic control of their markets. The obvious solution would be to break these companies up or to at least acknowledge their importance to modern society and regulate them heavily, but conservatives don’t seem to be interested enough in either solution to even THREATEN to do this.
We’ve already lost the schools, Hollywood and the mainstream media. What happens when you can’t get out conservative opinion via social media because they block, shadow ban and demonetize everyone who gets any traction?What happens if they put rules in place that essentially make expressing conservative opinions something that gets you kicked off their service? You’re pro-gun? Sorry, not allowed. You don’t like gay marriage? Get out of here. Criticizing Black Lives Matter? Out of bounds! We can hope for the best, but that seems like the future we’re headed toward and it’s one that will leave conservatism weaker than ever.
As Steve has posted a bit ago, we blow away the blogging competitors here in NH and have done so for most of the time we’ve been open. We write about what interests US, knowing that as Liberty minded Conservatives, we want to know about the same stuff others like us are interested in – we have never expressly written: “for the rankings.” We even outdraw a number of the corporate news/media sites because we don’t swing in the breeze. We have remained Consistent with our message and our Principles (something that many don’t do) even if that rancors the backsides of others, especially Establishment types. Too bad, I say.
We’ll be here for a while yet, I hope, which brings me to a small bleg if you would allow. Like our stuff? Send a little coin our way if you would – it never goes into our pockets but solely for running the hosting charges (and equipment, from time to time). For the majority of the time, I’ve paid the cost out of my own pocket. Now being “in between opportunities”, I’m finding it harder to do so and I’m VERY grateful to those that have donated behind the scenes.
And the LAST thing I want to do is have to move us to a “free” site in which we could get shut down (like on blogspot). The higher cost has provided independence from what Hawkins describes above but TANSTAFFL.