Regulation Is Not The Constitutional Solution To Censorship By Social Media Giants

NoisyRoom.net

I had not intended to weigh in on this debate as I have been focusing more on geopolitical issues. But I saw a piece go by from Paula Bolyard over at the Washington Post and I just had to write on it. Paula is also the supervising editor at PJ Media. That is a media source I really respect and that I visit every single day. You should too. Recently, Paula wrote an article at PJ Media that President Trump quoted: “96 Percent of Google Search Results for ‘Trump’ News Are from Liberal Media Outlets.” After that, she found herself in a media maelstrom that I would not wish on anyone.

Trump’s tweet said this, “Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. “Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal?’” Trump also added that “96% of results on ‘Trump News’ are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good.” He’s got a point and is right on this issue.

I’m probably not going to make anyone happy with this article, but this is how I see the situation. President Trump is upset that he is being censored by social media sites. So are most Americans. Many conservatives have been shadow banned, censored and fiscally destroyed by these tech giants. I have little to no sympathy for these tech outfits and I absolutely understand and agree with the way Trump feels. Except… when it comes to calling for regulation of social media sites. That is a very bad move constitutionally and it should give all Americans pause for thought on it. You can see Paula’s response to the call for regulating social media here. I absolutely agree with her and she is an impressive writer.

Paula did research on Google searches involving “Trump” and she came up with overwhelming results that were from leftist organizations and the media. Conservative sites didn’t even come up for the most part. She did a lot of work on the article and the conclusion is alarming. It’s not just Google. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others that are fact-checking conservatives to death but, as far as I know, not liberals. People are being banned all over the place these days and many times there is no reason given or a very lame one at best. I have personally seen this happen and it is not a conspiracy theory as leftists would have you believe.

I am just as miffed as everyone else is over all this and I think there are several things that could be addressed. One is looking at how the social media giants got their approval in the first place. Whether it was through the FCC or some other agency or combination thereof. I’m pretty sure they are getting some special kind of protection or immunity legally because they claim they are an unbiased communication platform. Except they aren’t. When you censor speech for no good reason or for a self-defined, made-up one, you are no longer unbiased and probably never were. Remove those legal protections and if they infringe on people’s rights, let them go to court. Enough lawfare and some of this will stop.

Paula also points out the inherent bias at play, “Here’s a dirty little secret of the news business: No media outlet is unbiased. Even if a site isn’t blatantly partisan, its biases come out in story choices and headlines that lead readers to certain positions, encouraging them to care about the things the media outlet thinks are important.” She’s right of course. That’s human nature.

I also read up on an interesting idea from Daniel Greenfield over at FrontPage Mag. He’s calling for a digital First Amendment. He states that “a digital First Amendment is needed to maintain the relevance of the Bill of Rights in a new technological era when government censorship is outsourced to corporate partners.” I find that idea intriguing and it should be considered. While this sounds tempting, it should be viewed with a healthy skepticism, because by asserting that the social media giants are “outsourcing” government censorship, one sets the stage for the “obvious” conclusion that they must somehow “belong” to the government. And this must not happen.

But it does illuminate the dichotomy of their status: Do these companies enjoy the protections of claiming “neutral” common carrier status and, at the same time, do they (as private entities even if publically traded) get to pick and choose which traffic is carried on their “neutral” networks? On the one hand, they are open to common carrier regulation (where government functionaries determine what’s “fair”), while on the other, they become a sort of corporate “tyranny writ small” as they balance the scales of discourse with their political thumb.

And while we are at it, we should address issues such as how these same tech giants are censoring free speech willingly in countries such as China. Personally, I don’t think that should be allowed or tolerated. It’s a national security issue and a human rights issue. We also need to look at criminals and the access that federal and intel agencies have to these sites. It’s complicated, but all of that has to be considered here. I am also positive we do not even know half of what is being done with our personal data and that is also a major issue.

But as Paula said, “The government has no business regulating private companies for their political views, and it would set a dangerous precedent to do so in this case. Government regulation would only make things worse. The Internet would be less free, and fewer voices would be allowed to have a say.” Government intervention always makes things worse in the long run. Right now, the political pendulum is on the right, but what happens when it swings back to the left? And it will. If you let the federal government control social media and the Internet, pretty soon you will have no freedom at all in that sphere. We will wind up like Germany, Britain or other countries where you can be arrested simply for your opinion online.

One commenter informed me that these are publically traded companies, not private, so they should be open to regulation. But the government still does not have the right to barge in and tell them how they can do business through communication. They can intervene financially if the law is being broken, but they can’t just bring down the gavel and tell these companies how to behave. That’s not how freedom in our Constitutional Republic is supposed to work.

If you call them a utility, that is wrong as well because unlike power utilities, the Internet is not necessary for survival. There is perhaps an argument to be made that these companies are now so large and powerful that they control the market and should be broken up. That I could understand but it still won’t fully address the problem. Leftist monopolies should not be allowed to dictate free speech in America, but don’t make the mistake of using regulation to stop them. Think about it: when “free speech” becomes the subjective opinion of a bureaucrat, what does the term “free” even mean any more? The ultimate solution is for conservatives to produce their own social media platforms here. It’s called ‘the free market’.

Google’s algorithms are secret and open to criticism. The company says while its main mission is to deliver relevant results, it also endeavors “to promote original journalism, as well as to expose users to diverse perspectives.” But who decides what perspectives? Over 100 conservative employees at Facebook have now joined a group that is crying out over a lack of political diversity. Social media giants are reaching the fracture point and for good reason. Too much power over communication is now in too few hands and they all seem to be on the left side of the political spectrum. That can’t continue if we are to survive as a nation.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Apple, and others are actively and blatantly censoring conservative voices. Apple’s own shareholders are now trying to address the issue of free speech. Google and YouTube are denying they are biased but everyone knows they are. They have censored most of PragerU’s videos and many others including Alex Jones. Where does it end? Nowhere good at this rate. Facebook and Twitter seem to be calling for regulations on themselves. That’s insane and makes me wonder if this wasn’t the point all along… to control the Internet in the end and to start with social media.

These giant social media corporations have the power to sway elections and our form of government. Americans must pay attention here and demand that free speech is protected on these platforms. President Trump is right to be upset over this and to consider action… just don’t do it through regulation that stomps on constitutional rights while trying to fix the problem. If the government regulates the social media giants, the Internet will be less free and there will be fewer voices, not more in the end that are allowed to have their say. The left will make sure that is the case.

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