It is now undeniable. We continue to see it daily. While the 1st Amendment won’t allow Congress and/or government to censor conservative speech, left-wing activists and politicians are accomplishing the same thing by use of intimidation and bullying. We have witnessed in the last few months several such actions.
As we know, many large social media entities have banned well-known and highly-popular conservatives from their platforms. We’ve seen President Trump, himself, and numerous other conservative figures either temporarily or permanently censored and banned from Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and virtually every other major social media platform. Many that haven’t been banned outright have had large numbers of their social media followers deleted. Apple, Google, and others have also now purged conservative speech and speakers from their platforms as well. This is the beginning of a punitive “de-platforming” push.
[I understand that companies like these are private companies. But while they enjoy the enormous benefit of Section 230 legal liability protection from 3rd party content under federal law (Communications Decency Act), they shouldn’t be allowed to selectively censor.]
As Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr noted, “right now the greatest threat to free speech in this country is not any law passed by the government—the First Amendment stands as a bulwark.” Rather, he continued, “the threat comes in the form of legislating by letterhead. Politicians have realized that they can silence the speech of those with different political viewpoints by public bullying.”
What we know is that Big Tech censored and diminished the visibility of Breitbart News, for example, by some 99% in 2020. Big Tech accomplishes these purges by arbitrarily deeming conservative speech to be “disinformation,” “hate speech,” or “authoritative” speech. Do you see how broad those categories are? Anything and everything could potentially be banned! This is accomplished by the tweaking of complex algorithms to either filter out or prominently display certain content as the software directs.
How does this not qualify as consumer fraud and a deceptive business practice? Large numbers of people signed up with these social media platforms, established accounts, posted pictures, bought ads, and cultivated followers but suddenly these companies pull the rug out from under certain customers. It’s a bait and switch. And, for that matter, what about the public accommodation laws? 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000a (a) states that “all persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, … and accommodations of any place of public accommodation … without discrimination…” These social media giants certainly “affect commerce.” For these reasons and others, I feel a solid legal argument can be made that the public accommodation laws should apply online as well as in person.
Big Tech has demonstrated a clear ideological bias, and Congress and regulators should take steps soon to ensure that the great legal and economic benefits these social media platforms were given in 1996—when these fledgling companies promised to be fair and impartial clearinghouses of all speech and content—are curtailed until a marketplace of ideas truly returns.
It should be noted, of course, that there are some who are fighting to bring that marketplace back using traditional market means. If you haven’t taken a look at The Speakeasy, click here and check it out today.