Populist Republicans have come up with a novel strategy to own the libs: Silencing conservative grassroots on the Internet. That will teach those Big Tech companies for censoring political speech! We will abolish all political speech! We will totally “own the libs” when we make sure that tens of millions of conservatives will not be able to speak on social media! Wait, what? How does that work, exactly?
If course, it does not work. But that is what will happen if we repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, stripping platforms of liability for user-generated content. If social media platforms are liable for what users say, then that will end the Internet as we know it.
As far back as I can remember, conservatives have complained about news media bias. With the rise of the blogosphere, average people could have more of a voice in the public square. The rise of social media has expanded that voice considerably. Are Facebook and Twitter often too restrictive? Sure they are. But conservatives have far more of a voice today than we did 20 years ago and far more than we did 25 years ago. Without Section 230, the mainstream media would return to dominance, with no dissenting voices to counter their spin. Passing legislation to cripple social media will silence our voices.
It is one thing to consider specific things that can be done on the margins to encourage social media platforms to engage in less restrictive content moderation. It is another thing entirely to abolish Section 230, which would radically change the way we use the Internet. Congress was shockingly forward-looking when Section 230 was passed, and that has enabled the Internet to blossom more than anyone could have predicted back then. Let’s not throw that away because we are unhappy with the way Facebook and Twitter restrict conservative content, especially since there are alternatives to both.