Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve read about the controversies over censorship on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube.
These sites are virtual monopolies that dominate online discourse. They enjoy the best of both worlds: editorial freedom to completely control the content on their sites combined with immunity from liability for what is posted there.
Their censorship rollout has recently been ratcheted up to the next level. No longer are they backing down readily when challenged, but instead are standing firm even in the face of bad publicity (or at a minimum requiring overwhelming outrage to make change happen). Who knows what the next stage will be?
My latest article in City Journal is on this very topic and is called “You’ve Been Restricted“:
[Censorship] has affected a lot of conservatives—like Milo Yiannopoulos, banned for life from Twitter—but is hardly limited to them. Even hardcore leftist feminist groups have fallen afoul of the corporate censors. Facebook wouldn’t allow a blogger to promote her Facebook post about the history of menstrual products and banned a photo featuring a plus-sized model for a body positivity event. In many such cases, content is removed by over-zealous algorithms or malicious reporting of posts as abusive. Public complaint is often enough to force a platform to restore deleted posts or accounts. Recently, however, the social media giants have begun refusing to reverse their censorious decisions, even in the face of significant bad press.
That these firms seem so willing to censor should trouble everyone concerned about free speech. As should the fact that they’re increasingly turning to permanent lifetime bans of people they don’t like. It’s true that these are private companies, not governments. But their disproportionate market share—the local phone company currently faces more competition than do YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter—makes their actions a public concern.
Click through to read the whole thing.