We could cite such headlines for hours.
These Big Tech companies play a very creative legal game in defense of their businesses and their anti-conservative censorious practices.
They choose to identify as either “platforms” or “publishers” – depending upon which better defends what they’re doing at that moment.
“If Big Tech firms want to retain valuable government protections, then they need to get out of the censorship business.
“When the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on social media censorship late last month, liberal Democratic congressman Ted Lieu transformed into a hardcore libertarian. ‘This is a stupid and ridiculous hearing,’ he said, because ‘the First Amendment applies to the government, not private companies.’ He added that just as the government cannot tell Fox News what content to air, ‘we can’t tell Facebook what content to filter,’ because that would be unconstitutional.
“Lieu is incorrect. While the First Amendment generally does not apply to private companies, the Supreme Court has held it ‘does not disable the government from taking steps to ensure that private interests not restrict . . . the free flow of information and ideas.’
“But as Senator Ted Cruz points out, Congress actually has the power to deter political censorship by social media companies without using government coercion or taking action that would violate the First Amendment, in letter or spirit.
“Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunizes online platforms for their users’ defamatory, fraudulent, or otherwise unlawful content. Congress granted this extraordinary benefit to facilitate ‘forum[s] for a true diversity of political discourse.’
“This exemption from standard libel law is extremely valuable to the companies that enjoy its protection, such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter, but they only got it because it was assumed that they would operate as impartial, open channels of communication—not curators of acceptable opinion.”
Get that? Congress passed the Communications Decency Act (CDA) in 1996 – when the Internet was in its nigh-embryonic beginnings.
To protect the Web as the wide-open and unobstructed “platform” we all said we wanted it to be – the CDA immunized online companies from liability for things posted on its “platforms.”
Meaning, for instance, if someone posts stolen movies on YouTube – YouTube has to un-post them when made aware…but YouTube is not held legally liable for Intellectual Property (IP) violations.
Meaning, for instance, if someone posts libelous or slanderous material on Facebook – Facebook has to un-post it when made aware…but Facebook is not held legally liable for libel or slander.
From a free-and-open-Internet perspective – this makes a lot of sense. Big Tech companies claimed they wanted to offer places where everyone everywhere could speak freely and openly – so they were afforded these special CDA Section 230 protections.
And from a simple logistical perspective – this makes mathematical sense as well. There are six billion people on the planet. The likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter can not babysit what six billion people will be posting. They can un-publish problematic content when it is brought to their attention – but it is simply stupid to expect them to preempt its publication.
We now see how titanically stupid this expectation is – with Big Tech’s alleged attempts to prevent “fake news” and “election manipulation.”
Because math. Again – there are six billion people on the planet. That’s a LOT of posts to peruse and police. It is computative-ly absurd to even consider trying.
The only actual, viable “fake news” solution is:
Everyone speaks freely – and everyone decides for themselves what is and isn’t “fake news.”
And this whole “fake news” “election manipulation” thing – is really just another load of Leftist poo. To provide cover – for Big Tech censoring anyone to the Right of Karl Marx.
“Americans have long suspected the MSM isn’t playing it straight. ‘Reporters’ who pose as non-ideological beat writers – Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times – later morph into fiercely opinionated columnists and are finally ‘revealed’ to be hard-core leftists, as though we hadn’t guessed.
“The internet seemed to offer a promising alternative. The gates to the printing presses were trampled down by the public. Now anyone could publish anything they chose, in front of the whole world.
“But the world will never know what you have to say if the techno-elites ignore you. Google, Twitter and Facebook could (if they wanted to) offer pure objectivity by using a dispassionate algorithm based on nothing but traffic numbers. Instead, all three have given the public excellent cause to believe they’re doing the opposite.
“Twitter hired a panel of liberal standards enforcers and began bouncing nonconformists….
“Google has stated it’s considering whether to slant search results to give more prominence to what it ‘judges’ to be true – which is exactly what progressive newspaper editors say they’re doing.
“If Facebook is really an open community, it shouldn’t have news curators at all, just a program that genuinely reflects what people are talking about.”
See the double standard Big Tech demands we afford them?
When called on their mass, massive censorship of conservatives – Big Tech retreats behind the very same lame First Amendment argument Democrat Congressman Lieu obsequiously made on their behalf.
But traditional news media outlets are in fact held legally culpable for publishing libelous or slanderous things. Which Big Tech companies are not – thanks to Section 230 of the CDA.
Extra protections granted Big Tech – in exchange for not blocking content. Which they claimed they wouldn’t do. But they clearly, routinely, obscenely do – thereby in-violating their CDA Section 230 additional protections.
So Big Tech needs to choose. Do they want to be “platforms” – or “publishers?”
They can not be both.
We can not continue to allow Big Tech to have it both ways.
This first appeared in Red State.