No to Government Censors
Politicians in both major political parties are peddling schemes to curb the power of various sorts of media that publish news and opinion they don’t like – or prevent the airing of news and opinion they do like.
While the First Amendment is crystal clear about protecting speech from government regulation, that’s still not stopped the constitutionally illiterate from advocating their plans.
As Reason’s Robby Soave writes:
It’s true that both traditional media and social media sometimes spread “disinformation and misinformation.” But the federal government has no formal role to play in suppressing its spread. The First Amendment explicitly bars Congress from infringing on freedom of the press or freedom of speech, and the Supreme Court has recognized no exceptions for disinformation. If the government could ban disinformation, after all, it could use that as a cover for banning speech that is not actually false but merely critical of the government, or of specific politicians. Recall that Democrats swiftly denounced The New York Post’s report on Hunter Biden’s foreign connections as “disinformation,” even though many underlying aspects of the story have since been confirmed.
Social media platforms are currently struggling with how to identify disinformation and what actions against it are appropriate. Certain subjects—such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 election results—are aggressively policed, while other misleading content is left alone. Users have every right to criticize these decisions, but ultimately Twitter and Facebook are private companies with the right to set their own moderation policies. They can prohibit speech they define as misinformation. Congress can’t.
Complaining about the media is an ancient American past time. But calling for government to determine the limits of private speech will only lead to even more speech being silenced in the name of defending those in power. That is antithetical to liberty.