By Luke Wachob
Thanks to the Supreme Court, the government isn’t able to shut down dissenting views today. But private companies? That’s a totally different story. Private entities are not bound by the First Amendment, so when they join forces with government, our speech rights become muddled.
For power-hungry politicians, outsourcing censorship is a means to an end. Pressuring an industry into censoring itself, often with the threat of new laws in the background, can achieve in practice what the government is forbidden from doing directly. The result is the enforcement of conventional values to the exclusion of new or dissenting ideas…
Proponents of further regulating internet speech say they seek only increased transparency in online advertising. That doesn’t square with the Senate’s actions. Fierce condemnations of social media companies, fearmongering about “misinformation” and “fake news,” and misleading legislation titled the “Honest Ads Act” speak to much larger ambitions. They suggest an interest in dramatically curtailing freedom of speech online.
Our response to Russian dissemination of propaganda should punish Russia, not Americans. Rewriting the rules for political speech on the internet – or pressuring social media companies to regulate with a heavy hand – will threaten the future of legitimate, homegrown political movements in the United States.