At The American Conservative, Peter Van Buren decries the censorship by the big media companies. Van Buren explains “deplatforming” and how such corporate censorship may be illegal under monopoly conditions. He writes (abridged):
Donald Trump is preparing to unleash the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as antitrust warriors against the tech giants. And good on him. Breaking up the monopolies on speech might save us—particularly anyone right-of-center—from encroaching online deplatforming, and preserve our ability to hear ideas outside echo chambers of bullied consensus.
The First Amendment doesn’t restrain censorship by private social media companies. Thus have progressives today reveled in their newfound power to enforce their own opinions through deplatforming. That only works because the platforms matter as near-monopolies; no one cares who gets kicked off MySpace. If you end the monopolies, you defang deplatforming.
With legal and legislative solutions ineffectual for preserving free speech online, enter the major antitrust enforcement agencies of the executive branch. The Department of Justice is preparing to investigate Google’s parent company, Alphabet, while the Federal Trade Commission is doing the same for Facebook. The goal may be to break the tech giants into multiple smaller companies, as was done at the dawn of mass electronic communication in America.
The end of social media mega-companies, with none big enough to effectively silence any significant amount of speech, would be a clumsy fix for a problem the Founders never imagined—citizens demanding corporate censorship because they don’t like the results of an election. It is nowhere near the comprehensive solution of an expanded First Amendment that a democracy should grant itself. But in a world where progressives fail to understand the value of free speech, it may provide enough of a dike to hold back the waters until reason again takes hold.
Read more here.
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