If you’re reading this, odds are almost 100% that at some point in the journey to get you here, we had to pay for you to see it. Please take the time and read it all the way to the end. Online censorship is getting expensive.
Before I get into the details about the digital war that is being waged against us, I want to set the stage for you. The Texas Nationalist Movement is the second largest independence movement in the Western Hemisphere and one of the largest in the world. With over 427,765 declared supporters we are the single largest Texas-focused political organization in the State. We have been featured on every major news outlet in Texas, the United States, and the world. The biggest issue associated with the TNM, TEXIT, enjoys the support of over half of Republican voters, half of independent voters, and one-third of Democrats. Polling consistently shows that more Texans believe that Texas should become an independent nation than those that believe that Texas should remain under the thumb of the federal government.
Much of this growth and support has been developed since 2005 using a combination of email, retail politics, and social media. The times are changing though. Over the last two years the TNM has fought a silent war, waged by corporations with a combined worth in the trillions of dollars, who have set their eyes upon our vision of an independent Texas with an intent to put an end to it. For two years we have kept this war out of the view of our supporters and the public so that we could stay focused on our mission. That ends today.
Until very recently, the TNM had more followers on Facebook than the Republican Party of Texas and the Texas Democrats combined. However, after we made headlines at the Texas Republican Convention in 2016, things began to change. Since then, Facebook has made changes to their policies and their platform that have made it difficult for brands and organizations to reach their followers. These changes hit us, too. But it seems that the TNM is having a much harder time reaching people that have been connected to us on Facebook for years, and it began to hit us before Facebook even announced its algorithm changes.
Contrary to Facebook’s public denials, evidence has surfaced that the changes have been specifically targeted to negatively impact people and organizations like the TNM. In fact, former leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel Farage confronted Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg with proof that this was happening during a hearing in the European Parliament just weeks ago.
Although Facebook has gone so far as to ban users and pages from its platform for allegedly extremist views, this hasn’t been an option for them where the TNM is concerned. We ask questions about basic governance that are right to ask in any free society and pose solutions that are protected by the United States Constitution, international law, and, more importantly, the Texas Constitution. For organizations like us where bans are problematic, it seems that Facebook has engaged in a different, silent, and less dramatic strategy.
Unknown to most and seemingly unreported by other users, we have seen a systematic campaign to disconnect users that have ‘liked’ our pages from those same pages. As our likes have gone up, a proportional number of users have suddenly found themselves no longer liking or following our page.
With Facebook suppressing our relationship with our supporters, there has been an increasing need to buy advertising to simply get our posts in the feeds of those who have already connected with the TNM. As we increased our ad spend to attempt to combat this in March of 2018, we suddenly found that Facebook had suspended our advertising account. Upon examination we found that Facebook has gone back to two ads that we ran in 2016 dealing with illegal immigration and the border. Both ads simply said, “You could secure the border and end illegal immigration with just one vote. Isn’t it worth it?”. Facebook’s message was clear. “Your ad account has been disabled for promoting ads which violate our Facebook Ads Guidelines.”
Each time that Facebook make major moves to suppress our posts or disconnect us from our followers, we respond and they eventually relent. However, this is nothing more than a strategy of harassment meant to create ‘death by a thousand cuts’.
This silent war against the TNM and organizations like ours is not limited to Facebook. We have also been affected by the Twitter “shadow ban” and the massive scrubbing of followers. Anytime any of our Twitter accounts reaches over 10,000 followers, within a period of days it’s reduced back to around 6,000 or less and we’ve been able to chart the decline in the reach of our tweets to those who follow our accounts.
It also seems that other players in ‘big tech’ are wanting their piece of the action. As the social media platforms have become hostile to the TNM, we have had to rely heavily on email to reach our supporters. Yet we repeatedly have to deal with Google and Yahoo sending our emails, for which our supporters have opted in, straight to SPAM boxes where they disappear forever.
Recently, Defiance Press, the publisher of the book “TEXIT: Why and How Texas Will Leave The Union” detailed actions by the online retail giant Amazon that effectively worked to kill book sales, not just on their platform, but across all retail outlets. With a 100% five-star ratings and after becoming a number 1 new release in three separate categories, Amazon limited sales of the book to Prime Members only, set a cap of 4 copies per customer, and dropped the price to below wholesale.
For a period of six weeks the publisher and distributor sought an explanation from Amazon but only got contradictory answers or stonewalling. The distributor finally came to the conclusion that the most likely explanation was that their choice was entirely political. Only after a public pressure campaign from the TNM and after word leaked that the publisher was actively working on this issue with the Texas Attorney General, did Amazon relent.
After a brief pause in the hostilities, Amazon escalated their war on the TEXIT book by completely removing it from stock and refusing to sell anymore copies, essentially banning it from their platform. All of which happened on the first day of the internationally-recognized “Banned Books Week”. Again, an aggressive public campaign from the TNM accusing them of being modern-day book burners was followed by Amazon returning the book to stock but placing a 1-3 week slowdown on shipping of the book.
The question is why are these tech giants using this insidious strategy with the TNM rather than opting for outright bans? The reasons are simple.
Outright bans have been reserved for those whom the establishment deems as “extremist” and “offensive”. The backlash from bans like these is often minimal and temporary. For the rest of us that have views unacceptable to the political elite but carry large percentages of the population that agree with us, the backlash from an outright ban would grab headlines and would likely lead to large scale consumer revolts.
It’s a much less risky strategy for them to suppress the message and to engage in constant harassment because it’s likely to produce the same result. They believe that as we become increasingly unable to communicate with our supporters or those likely to support us and can no longer afford to pump money into these platforms to overcome the bias it becomes harder to justify the use of these platforms leading organizations like ours to abandon them altogether.
For the TNM the effect is even more pronounced. As an organization that relies on memberships and small donations to fund even basic operations, the inability to communicate with our supporters means fewer memberships and fewer donations. Fewer memberships and fewer donations means less money to reach supporters on these platforms. This cycle continues until we are cash-starved and unable to do little more than survive to fight another day.
Were this happening to any other organization formed for any other purpose, there would be some level of outrage expressed somewhere. Since conservative-leaning organizations seem to be bearing the brunt of this digital oppression, you would expect conservative-leaning media outlets to pick up on this multi-year pattern of harassment and suppression by these tech giants. Given the level, severity, and specificity directed at the TNM, it would also seem reasonable that someone in the mainstream media would pick up the story. They haven’t. In fact, since the beginning of 2018 over 300 media outlets in Texas have refused to accept any new media releases from the TNM while leaving themselves open to any and all others.
The CEO of Defiance Press, Dave Roberts, was scheduled to discuss the actions Amazon took against the TEXIT book on the Laura Ingraham Show on Fox News. At the last minute, they pulled the segment with no reason given. A press release that was sent by Defiance Press on the same matter was rejected by the press release network PRNewswire because they were afraid of the repercussions.
The TNM has sent press releases on this issue directly to over 3,000 media outlets. To date, it has resulted in 4 radio appearances and a single article on WorldNetDaily. Yet a turn of the radio dial, a visit to a news website, or a quick watch of the nightly news will get you some scattered information about “alleged shadow bans” but it will mostly be fluff and filler.
After talking with others and visiting with the publisher of the TEXIT book, I can say that without a doubt that I believe this is political and targeted at the TNM. We have been unable to find another experience like ours. We seem to be unique in this level of harassment which can only mean that our vision of an independent Texas and our method for accomplishing it has the political class terrified.
Having the political class lash out is not a bad thing, though. It does make things a bit tougher for the TNM. It means that operating on a shoestring budget is becoming impossible. With social media and earned media off-the-table, it shifts the strategy to one focused on traditional retail politics. There is one way to address both of these – members.
Every supporter of our work must make the decision to take the next step into membership. Every member of the TNM must become an extension of the organization’s efforts to grow and reach our fellow Texans. Although big tech and the mainstream media can put a muzzle on the TNM’s digital efforts, they cannot silence all of us. They cannot prevent our members from sharing their concerns about the federal superstate and the benefits that TEXIT can provide.
It is time for a new Texian Army to mobilize, a people’s army, singularly committed to breaking through the digital barriers placed in front of the TNM. One committed to getting and winning not just a vote on Texas independence but the total political, cultural, and economic independence of Texas. It is up to us to show them all what Sam Houston meant when he said, “Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.”