The House GOP’s “Big Tech Accountability Platform” is equal parts confused and hypocritical. While claiming to protect “lawful” speech from “censorship,” the GOP proposals decide that some lawful speech―the kind they don’t like―actually should be moderated by social media platforms.
The latest bill from Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Jim Jordan is more of the same. The Republican leaders fly the banner of consumer protection. But their real aim is to protect not consumers, but their preferred views from rejection by social media platforms. The bill erects huge logistical barriers to engaging in any content moderation whatsoever at a large scale. The end result would be social media platforms that are entirely unpleasant and unusable.
But the government has no business inserting itself into the expressive, constitutionally protected decisions of private parties. The First Amendment rightly takes that power out of the government’s purview. In 2019, McMorris Rodgers herself agreed that bills just like hers violate the First Amendment, saying that it’s not “any government agency’s job to moderate free speech online.”
House Republicans have flipped their own script, using big government tactics to micromanage private businesses and encroach on First Amendment rights. They’ll have little room to complain when they don’t like the results of Democrats doing the same.
We can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Free Speech Counsel Ari Cohn is available to discuss this legislation and can be contacted directly at email@example.com. Read our related work:
- Our amicus brief in NetChoice v. Moody (June 11, 2021)
- Trading Big Tech for Big Government Will Backfire for Conservatives, Daily Caller (June 2, 2021)
- Florida Bill Shows Why Social-Media Speech Regulations Violate First Amendment (May 24, 2021)
- Debate: Social Media, Free Speech, and Section 230, Federalist Society (April 4, 2021)
- The Wall Street Journal Misreads Section 230 and the First Amendment, Lawfare (February 3, 2021)
- Our comments to the FCC on the NTIA petition for rulemaking on “online censorship” (September 2, 2020)
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