While the Biden administration appears uninterested in combating online censorship, that doesn’t mean conservatives are powerless to do anything about it. States can act, and they must if they hope to protect First Amendment freedoms.
Major technology companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google control most of the spread of information online. They openly use this power to suppress disfavored views. Big Tech deplatformed former President Donald Trump , suppressed reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop scandal, and prohibited posts speculating that COVID-19 escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China. One poll found nearly half of the public knows someone who has been censored online. No wonder polling shows people overwhelmingly believe Big Tech companies are censoring their users.
These companies and their allies argue state governments have no power to prevent online censorship. They contend that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act allows them to remove any posts they want. Moreover, they argue First Amendment free speech rights allow them to pick and choose what content they will host on their platform.
These arguments persuaded conservative states such as North Dakota and Utah not to pass laws combating tech censorship. However, Big Tech overstates its case. States can — and should — protect free speech in a manner consistent with the First Amendment and Section 230.