President Joe Biden may have walked back his accusation that social media company Facebook is “killing people,” but his administration remains intent on compelling Big Tech companies to step up their censorship efforts. The White House is reportedly considering whether these businesses can be held liable for publishing “misinformation” under Section 230, a measure that shields companies from legal ramifications for content published on their platforms.
During an interview on MSNBC, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said the administration is “reviewing” the law and indicated that companies “should be held accountable” for supposed misinformation being shared on their platforms. She also stated that Biden feels it is “the responsibility of the people creating the content.”
It is a big and complicated ecosystem, and everybody bears responsibility to ensure that we are not providing people with bad information about a vaccine that will save their lives.
CNN observed that both Biden and former President Donald Trump have attacked Section 230, albeit for different reasons:
Biden has long railed against the law for its protection of social media companies from misinformation, whereas Trump has claimed that it leads to the censorship and suppression of conservative voices. Supporters of the provision, meanwhile, argue that the law protects free speech. Trump’s attempts to use the executive branch to change how Section 230 is applied to tech companies was called unconstitutional by legal experts, lawmakers and officials at the Federal Communications Commission.
However, the president might not find that ending the law will be without serious hurdles. Congress is the only entity that could repeal or alter the measure. It won’t be easy to get Republicans and Democrats to come to an agreement on how the law should be addressed.
Biden and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy have both excoriated Facebook and other social media companies for apparently failing to tamp down hard enough on opinions that do not comport with the Democrats’ narrative about the pandemic and vaccination. While Biden walked back his earlier comments, he remained steadfast in insisting that these companies need to censor more content.
“Facebook isn’t killing people — these 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people. It’s bad information,” the president said.
Biden indicated that “instead of taking it personally,” he hopes that “they would do something about the misinformation, the outrageous misinformation about the vaccine.”
Interestingly enough, Biden is getting some criticism from an unlikely source: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In a Twitter thread, the group wrote:
No matter which party is in power, the government cannot be trusted to label ‘truth’ or ‘fiction’ any more than Facebook or Twitter can.
No matter which party is in power, the government cannot be trusted to label 'truth' or 'fiction' any more than Facebook or Twitter can.
Remember when then-President Trump claimed COVID would just 'go away' without a vaccine? https://t.co/2IUs2YFgQV
— ACLU (@ACLU) July 20, 2021
In a series of posts, the group pointed out various areas in which presidents and the government gave misleading information to the American public. They cited President Trump’s claim that the virus would go away, President Obama’s claim that the NSA had “abused surveillance programs,” and how the government told citizens that “cannabis is as dangerous as heroin and PCP.”
Despite their usual erroneous stances, there are times when the ACLU nails it and this is one of them. The government does not get to have a monopoly on information. State officials do not get to use the power of the government to ensure that their perspectives on various matters get to be the dominant viewpoint.
The fact that this particular issue is not getting more attention is disturbing – and should be infuriating to those who value free speech. The government is literally trying to force a company to censor views with which it disagrees. This, combined with the fact that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is planning to pressure companies into censoring bulk text messages that offer opinions on the pandemic that are not Democrat-approved is nothing less than outright authoritarianism.
Even worse, the Democrats are carrying out this attempted usurpation of the First Amendment right in front of our very eyes. As Fox News commentator Dan Bongino said last week: “This is the single most important issue of our time.”
As I’ve written previously, it would be a mistake to think that Biden and his merry band of Democrats would stop at COVID if they are successful. What happens when they start pushing these companies to censor conservative opinions about Critical Race Theory? What about those opposing abortion or illegal immigration? I realize I may sound like I’m wearing a tinfoil hat as I write this.
So be it.
We cannot discount the possibility that these people will take their efforts to suppress conservative voices further. Indeed, why wouldn’t they? If they already have the power, it’s much easier to simply prevent your opponent from speaking than it is to actually refute their arguments, right? As conservatives, we must do our due diligence and make sure we are keeping an eye on this. Even more, we should be pushing our elected officials to fight this tooth and nail. If we don’t stop them here, it could get very ugly for us later on.