Many “conservatives” in the name have allowed some unrealistic attitudes about the motives of Big Tech when it comes to censorship of disfavored people and their opinions.
In a sense, the “they are a private firm and can filter whatever they want” crowd is accurate. Due to the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, it is undeniably true that the First Amendment only applies to the federal government and state and local governments.
However, when Big Tech uses its immense power in concert with government agents, the inalienable right to free speech can be implicated. Legislative immunity, as provided by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, also creates constitutional issues.
These are the problems addressed by President Donald Trump’s recently filed federal class-action lawsuit against the social media giants.
Meanwhile, the White House has been bold about collaboration with Facebook and other social media companies to censor “misinformation” about Covid-19.
Elle Reynolds at The Federalist notes that prominent conservative commentators like David French are paving the way for government interference with free speech when they plead for more extraordinary corporate powers to be granted to Big Tech.
Some conservative commentators believe that Twitter and Facebook are entirely untouchable because of their private corporate status. They also shrug off the use of Section 230 to spike “objectionable” content by saying, “the law is the law.”
This simplistic view overlooks the complaints raised by Trump’s lawsuit regarding conspiracy due to the compelling regulatory power held by Democratic lawmakers over tech companies.
The naive assumption is that left-wing progressive politicians and media members will avoid using coercion to achieve censorship through corporations. They could not reach legislative power, leaving conservative and right-wing speakers and publishers wide open to attack.
Conservatives will also not find relief through building their platforms. The Democrats in government have shown they are willing to defeat competing platforms using the same tactics used to compromise the existing tech giants.
Conservatives can obtain absolute free speech protection by stopping the Democratic takeover of private companies using governmental power. Every right of center defender of free speech should be moving to support the Trump lawsuit while there is still some hope of reigning in the takeover of all “private” media.