Clay Travis, a sports journalist who founded the popular website Outkick, said Friday that Facebook severely restricted traffic to his website last year after posting several articles positive of then-President Donald Trump.
Travis said the traffic throttling cost the website “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Travis said the ordeal began following an August 11, 2020 interview on his morning radio show “Outkick the Coverage” with Trump. The former president, Travis said, spent 25 minutes on the show and discussed a desire for college sports to return in the fall. After the interview, Outkick published several articles based on the comments from Trump, which painted the then-president in a positive light.
“Our site traffic soared that Tuesday, setting new records as our news-breaking interview with the president of the United States reverberated across the media world,” Travis wrote on Outkick. “But the next day — and for the next week — our site traffic crashed.”
Travis said Facebook “killed” the website’s traffic, removing 68% of its Facebook users and 76% of its new users. The loss of traffic at first cost tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue, but over the next month, that amount ballooned to hundreds of thousands of dollars, he wrote.
“According to our tech team, nothing in our posting schedule or article topics had changed at all. The only plausible explanation for Facebook’s sudden decision to restrict our traffic was the Trump interview. Because we’d featured favorable coverage of President Trump and his opinions on college football, Facebook punished us,” Travis wrote.
Travis further said he and the rest of Outkick haven’t discussed the issue previously because they worried Facebook would punish them for doing so, a fear common among websites that don’t adhere to progressive ideology.
Travis dismissed suggestions that the traffic loss was due to anything other then censorship. When the website tested a theory by posting articles with Joe Biden’s name in the headline, they witnessed no adverse change to Facebook traffic. Further, the idea that readers simply weren’t interested in the Trump stories is belied by the fact that internal metrics “proved that readers arriving from outside Facebook’s walls consumed these articles even more than they did other articles on the site.” The argument Facebook might make about its algorithms was also discounted by Travis, who reminded readers that those algorithms “are designed by humans, and the results are monitored.”
“If we wrote too often and too favorably about the president, Facebook punished our site. If we didn’t mention Trump very much, our site traffic grew. The power of Facebook was clear and their message was too: if you post content we don’t like, your audience will vanish,” Travis wrote.
He added that Outkick had to make a decision about whether to suppress stories to avoid losing money on Facebook.
“But it’s not just Facebook. This is the power of Big Tech writ large. We are living in a new gilded age, where tech billionaires — maybe soon to be trillionaires — have more power than any elected official in the land. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Apple’s Tim Cook, Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos have more power today than Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Henry Ford ever did in the earliest days of the 20th century. These modern-day tech monopolists can pick presidential election winners, control our national debates, and decide whose voice is heard and whose voice is not heard. The Supreme Court no longer decides what the law of the First Amendment is in this country, these tech executives do. In practice, Big Tech controls the country,” Travis wrote. “And they control the country by deciding what you see.”
Travis on Friday testified before congress about Big Tech censorship, listing all the tech companies that booted Trump from their platforms. Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who also testified, followed up Travis’ remarks by added that Big Tech and mainstream media outlets regularly label the truth as “misinformation,” as they did with the New York Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
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