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Free speech, private companies and government influence
Censorship by proxy needs to be eliminated. Government must stop trying to regulate the public square.
It is one thing for social media giants to forbid or reduce the reach of certain content. Ultimately, they are private companies. We should be very wary of populist "conservative" efforts to prevent Big Tech from banning some users or deleting some content. Regulation of content should not be something the federal government regulates, and big-government solutions are not conservative.
But the rot actually goes much deeper than what private companies do. It also involves outside actors and, much worse, the government. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the rest are all private companies and can allow or not allow whatever they want. However, government should not be permitted to pressure any social media company to delete or hide content. Censorship by proxy is a violation of the First Amendment.
The biggest concern tends to be "misinformation" about various topics, from elections to public health. More often than not, however, government simply wants to control the narrative, and pressures social media behind the scenes to get rid of content. While some have argued this is technically not a violation of the First Amendment because government is not directly censoring speech, it is hard to imagine that any of the men who ratified the Bill of Rights would see that as a proper function of government.
So clearly, reform is needed, and it needs to have teeth. It should be illegal for government to apply even the slightest pressure to social media to censor speech, outside of extremely limited cases such as direct incitement to violence or child pornography. Any attempt to suppress "misinformation" should not only be illegal, but there should be criminal penalties for both elected officials and government bureaucrats who attempt to get social media to censor anything that is not illegal.
One of the first items on the agenda for the new Republican-controlled Congress (after implementing some fiscal discipline) should be passing new laws criminalizing government interference in free speech on social media. This could get some bipartisan support, or Republicans could make it a campaign issue in 2024. Either way, this is a fight worth having, because government interference in free speech needs to be stopped.
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