Who Will Censure the Censors?
5 Things to Know About Regulating Internet Speech
The Powder Keg – YouTube recently “demonetized” hundreds of controversial channels, after an on-going spat between conservative comedian Steven Crowder and liberal Vox writer Carlos Maza. The host of Louder with Crowder repeatedly mocked Maza’s flambuoyant personae (aka the “gay wonk”) and ethnicity, and Maza roused a Twitter mob to get YouTube to remove him altogether. YouTube’s kept the videos up, but took Crowder’s ad dollars — pleasing virtually nobody, as Reason’s Robby Soave pointed out.
The Legal Issue - Some kinds of speech, such as incitements to violence, are clearly not protected by the 1st amendment, while “hate speech,” or offensive speech, is not clearly defined. Under Section 230 of the Decency in Communications Act (1996), online platforms like YouTube can set their own guidelines for acceptable speech but are continuing to come under scrutiny for alleged bias against conservatives.
The Proposed Remedy – Trump is talking about antitrust to break up Big Tech monopolies, but most scholars think this is impractical. Republican Senator Josh Hawley just introduced a law to essentially revive the “Fairness Doctrine,” and stop biased censorship of conservatives. This Sunday, I’ll speak to Frank Buckley about his middle-ground idea for a governmental check on “woke” social media censorship.
The Unintended Consequences – Elizabeth Nolan Brown points out that Hawley’s bill would likely make censorship against conservatives worse. The bill would require companies to reapply with the Federal Trade Commission every two years to prove that they are operating in a politically neutral manner. Ultimately, this would mean censoring vastly more political content, Brown notes.
A Quote to Ponder :
“There’s always someone we’re laughing at, and that person is going to take offense. If it’s a conservative laughing at a liberal, even a liberal who seems to be asking for it, even someone who dishes it out but can’t take it, like the butt of Crowder’s laughter, that’s when the progressive social media censors step in.” - Frank Buckley, How to stop the 'woke' social media censors, NY Post, June 10, 2019