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Conservatives’ greatest Achilles heel may be the naïve expectation that everyone else will abide by the same rules they do. That’s certainly apparent in the attempts by the David Frenches of the world to avoid imposing accountability for Big Tech, and their subsequent shock and horror when the Biden administration collaborates with tech giants to silence dissent.
Twitter and Facebook aren’t actually conducting biased censorship of conservatives, these Pollyannas will tell you. And even if they are censoring conservatives, it’s okay because they’re private corporations and they have the power to censor, suspend, and ban whatever and whomever they want.
Section 230 plainly permits companies to restrict access to content it deems “objectionable” without becoming a publisher. That’s the law. Trump’s executive order can’t override it—nor can rules drafted by his executive agencies. /2 🔒 https://t.co/x7c9xYk6Jn
— David French (@DavidAFrench) May 28, 2020
These people are correct that the First Amendment, a constitutional restriction on government, doesn’t govern private tech companies. But these tech giants’ latest collusion in a censorship campaign with the Biden White House shows that their manipulative power and political role in shrinking your freedom of speech extend far beyond that of private companies.
Counting even Republican politicians in their deep pockets, Facebook, Twitter, and other censoring corporations aren’t the diner-down-the-street equivalent of a “private business” in the “free market” they want you to think they are. The arguments of conservatives who want you to treat them like Mom and Pop’s might sound nice on paper, but their naïve defense of Big Tech’s unlimited power helped ensure tech platforms now have the ability to conduct the censorship campaigns they’re running with the president of the United States.
Of course, the authors of these libertarian arguments will agree this collusion is wrong and unconstitutional. But Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey couldn’t care less what they think. The tech giants may have found conservative defenses of their power useful, but they have no need to listen to the same people’s protestations now.
Big Tech and the Biden White House have taken advantage of conservatives’ age-old problem: expecting both sides to play by the same rules. We should leave tech companies alone because we believe in the free market, these right-of-center voices argue. And they expect their political opponents to do the same.
But leftists like Biden have never played by the same rules, and never will. The White House hasn’t “taken any options off the table” when it comes to the war on dissenting ideas, press secretary Jen Psaki assures us.
It’s also not the first time Biden has enlisted “private” companies to do his political bidding. In March, the White House used corporate muscle to help roll out Biden’s vaccine passport agenda.
In response to this, too many conservatives play a high-minded defense and leave their offense on the bench. As Gov. Ron DeSantis told The Federalist last month, conservatives’ goal should not be “to just lose ground more slowly; the goal is to regain ground.”
I’m not suggesting the next Republican president should adopt Biden’s handbook of collaborating with Big Tech to silence free speech — far from it. But to keep the left from permanently entrenching their censorship collusion, conservatives need to do more than just yell “free market” and defend tech companies’ power.
Nor does the argument that conservatives should just “leave Big Tech platforms” and build their own sites hold water. (Parler tried that, and Apple quickly blocked users from being able to download the social media app on their phones.) Now that the president is working with Big Tech to silence speech, are these commentators going to tell conservatives to build their own White House?
Social media platforms are in cahoots with the President of the United States to monitor your speech and silence you if you challenge their narrative. If that sentence doesn’t make you furious, read it again.
Maybe this joint censorship campaign — which the White House is flagrantly bragging about to your face, by the way — will make people like David French realize Big Tech is not going to stay in their private-company lane. The last thing conservatives should be doing is fighting for more power for corporations that silence speech at the behest of the oval office.