Government regulation of social media would kill the internet — and free speech
Social media companies have been criticized for disproportionately restricting content that offends political progressives. For example, a Pinterest insider recently leaked documents showing that the platform censors pro-life speech as “pornography.” Popular “classical liberal” YouTuber Dave Rubin has complained that his videos are flagged and discriminated against because of alleged “right-wing” content. And Twitter got into hot water last week for suspending the campaign account of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for posting a video of angry protestors assembling outside the senator’s home.
In response, conservative politicians have advocated for greater government regulation and oversight of social media. Last week, reports surfaced that the White House is developing an executive order directed at tech companies such as Facebook and Google, demanding that these sites eliminate “anti-conservative bias.” The exact contours of the executive order are not yet known, but if it in any way resembles recent proposals, anyone who values the free exchange of ideas should run far away from this latest effort to place government oversight on social media and curtail freedom of speech in the name of “fairness.”
Why shouldn’t the government require these companies to allow access to everyone? Because social media companies are private companies, not government actors, and these companies have their own First Amendment right to exclude anyone from their platforms for any reason at all. The government cannot force these companies to open up their sites and associate with viewpoints that their owners and shareholders find objectionable, any more than it can force you to display government-approved speech on your private property.