In the midst of rampant censorship by social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, conservatives are debating how they should respond to the constant attempts to stifle their speech online. It has been an ongoing problem ever since conservatives began using the internet to subvert the influence that the left has
The other side of the conversation includes conservatives who are leery of government intervention in the operations of social media companies, favoring a free market solution. They advocate for the idea that conservatives should find other ways to prevent the left from stifling right-wing thought. While it may seem that the government should be the solution to this problem, there are simply too many problems that could arise from regulation. Indeed, if conservatives succeed in pushing the government to interfere with social media platforms could cause more damage than relying on the free market.
Government Regulation Will Be Used Against Us
Let’s start with a simple question: Will government regulation help conservatives in the long run? Sure, it might force Twitter to stop shadowbanning in the short-term, but what happens when the Democrats eventually regain power? We have already seen that the left is not afraid to use the government to attack conservatives. President Obama weaponized the IRS against conservative non-profit groups. His administration had conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza imprisoned for a crime that does not normally involve jail time.
If you think that a Democrat-led government would hesitate to use regulations as a way to stifle conservative voices online, I’ve got some prime beachfront property in Nebraska that I would LOVE to sell you. The Democrats already have a plan for regulating speech online. In a piece for Reason, Elizabeth Nolan Brown reported that Democrats are circulating a memo detailing proposals for regulating the internet. These proposals include:
- Mandatory location verification: Requiring companies to “disclose the geographic origin of all user accounts or posts.”
- Mandatory identity verification: Forcing platforms to allow only “authentic” accounts.
- Bot labeling: Making companies label bot accounts.
Conservatives need to make sure that we are taking a long-term view of this situation. Government regulation could have more dire consequences in the future.
The Government Doesn’t Know What It’s Doing
How many times have we complained about the ineptitude of our government? Conservatives have criticized the efficacy of our government for decades — and rightly so. The government is not good at most things, so why would we trust them with regulating an online industry that connects billions of people worldwide? Our lawmakers have already shown that they do not have a good understanding of how social media companies work. In a piece for The National Review David Harsanyi points out that members of Congress don’t have enough knowledge to adequately regulate speech on social media platforms.
Harsanyi gives the example of Senator John Kennedy, who felt that Facebook should be punished because users believed that its service was free. He said: “The purpose of that user agreement is to cover Facebook’s rear end. It’s not to inform your users about their rights. I don’t want to vote to have to regulate Facebook, but by God, I will.” Kennedy was referring to the company’s documentation outlining its policies and procedures when it comes to using their advertising services. Other social media companies have similar agreements on their websites and are not illegal. Harsanyi writes: “So if a private entity follows the law but happens to upset the sensibilities of the United States Senate, it will, by God, be punished with some nanny-
Social Media Companies Will Become More Powerful
It’s a common misconception that large companies like Facebook are unduly harmed by regulations. But the truth is that many regulations cause less damage than one might think. Indeed, in many cases, they help the business avoid competition. If the government imposes regulations on social media companies, they will have to pay more to ensure they are abiding by the government’s mandates. Of course, these organizations can easily afford to spend the extra money. So who would this hurt?
More regulations would hurt any startup social media company that wishes to compete with Twitter and YouTube. But wait, haven’t conservatives been saying that we need to start our own online platforms? Government regulations would make it nearly impossible to afford the extra cost of running such a business. Indeed, regulations typically hinder small businesses far more than larger companies regardless of the industry.
The Free Market Can Work
It’s always tempting to leverage the government to combat the left’s attacks on conservatives. However, there is a reason why conservatives don’t believe that the government is always the best solution. Instead of relying on the nanny state, we should use the free market to push back on the cultural totalitarianism of the left.
Conservatives are already finding other ways to deliver our content to the American public. Conservative Review created CRTV, which is an online television network that one can stream on their phone, computer, or television. There is no reason why we can’t use our own resources to push back against the left. Relying on the state to solve our problems might sound attractive, but if we go down this road, we will live to regret it.