Back in 2019, I wrote that lawmakers must prohibit social media platforms from banning anyone for making posts that are legal to publish, and that failing to enact such legislation would open a dangerous Pandora’s Box. I explained then that there was more than enough legal standing on which to base such laws – and others far more knowledgeable than I have since stated similarly.
We now have in America major social media platforms that allow posts by parties such as terrorist groups that it is illegal to aid, propaganda-spreading leaders of countries under sanctions for whom it is illegal to provide communication services, governments operating concentration camps targeting ethnic minorities, regimes that murder gays and lesbians, etc., but which are simultaneously prohibiting the lawful, elected President of the United States from communicating, regardless of the content of any posts that he wishes to make.
Today, those social media firms may be acting against a man like Donald Trump, whose vile behavior makes it easy to feel that silencing him is beneficial, appropriate, and moral. But, being as there is no objective standard by which such bans take place, no court to overturn bad rulings, and no system at all of checks and balances, the price for failing to stop such censorship will certainly be paid by others of far better character in the future.Censoring Donald Trump may appear to be beneficial, appropriate, and moral. But, it is wrong, and it opens a Pandora's Box that threatens everyone's freedom. Click To Tweet
Elected officials chosen by the people, acting in accordance with the upholding of all rights protected by the Constitution, should be the ones deciding what can and cannot be said, not Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, or anyone else claiming protection from prosecution under Section 230 for illegal content shared using systems that they own and operate. We have laws that prohibit making statements that are likely to imminently incite violence – and those laws can be, and should be, fully enforced.
Banning from today’s mass media any legally-acceptable posts made by President Trump, however, is both wrong and opens a Pandora’s Box that will inflict terrible harm, that, while perhaps not apparent to many folks now, will certainly come back to haunt us all in horrific ways at some point in the future.
For details on the legal basis for extending First Amendment rights protections to social media, please see my May 2019 article, Congress Must Extend Civil Rights Protections To Social Media Users.