by Jeff Brain
Big Tech has betrayed the American people yet again – despite hopes that Facebook would finally reverse it’s ban on Donald Trump’s account, the social media giant has re-committed to a path of dangerous partisan censorship.
On Wednesday, an oversight board established by Facebook ruled that it would not be overturning the platform’s January decision to suspend Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
“We will now consider the board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate,” Facebook said in response to the ruling, noting that “In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s accounts remain suspended.”
Of course, all of us should have seen this decision coming. While the ban is not explicitly permanent and could be overturned in the coming months, the ruling proves that the so-called “independent” review boards and oversight panels are just as dangerous to free speech as the tech giants that appointed them.
President Trump reacted to Facebook’s ruling by calling the actions of Big Tech “a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country.” He is right. For the past two years, mainstream social media platforms have picked their own winners and losers in the marketplace of ideas, banning countless users who were deemed to be too “controversial” and “extreme.”
This censorship campaign, however, is not just about silencing President Trump and his political allies. Facebook is not just denying Donald Trump his right to speak – it is also denying the American people our right to hear from the 45th President.
For centuries, open political dialogue has served as a foundation for stability and progress in America. We must listen to each other in order to understand each other’s grievances and solve common problems. Without dialogue, there can be no conflict resolution. In this sense, what Big Tech has done in the name of combating “violence” is only destined to produce more of it. Banning the leader of the Republican Party from social media is not a key to maintaining peace – it is a recipe for unrelenting chaos. This is the real tragedy of Big Tech censorship.
Some believe that companies like Facebook are too big to fail, and that the only way out of this dangerous predicament is more government regulation. Rep. Jim Banks, for instance, condemned Facebook for refusing to reinstate Donald Trump’s account, arguing that “If Facebook is so big it thinks it can silence the leaders you elect, it’s time for conservatives to pursue an antitrust agenda.” Likewise, Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted “break them up” in response to Facebook’s announcement.
While I understand and respect these points of view, I do not believe that we should rely on the federal government to solve the censorship problem. No company is guaranteed to exist forever, and Facebook is not immune to the pressures of free market competition. America is home to some of the brightest software engineers and entrepreneurs who are more than capable of building platforms that could topple existing social media giants.
Of course, some legislative reform is necessary to ensure a level playing field in the tech industry. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – which has not been properly enforced in recent years – continues to serve as an excuse to censor free expression online.
While the legislation was originally passed to protect social media platforms from liability for user speech, it was never intended to protect tech giants acting as publishers.
Lawmakers should explore opportunities to reform Section 230, and to clarify its meaning. If social media platforms act as publishers by censoring political opinions, they should not be entitled to their liability protections.
Mainstream social media platforms are now beyond the point of redemption – the American people can’t afford to keep waiting for tech corporations to see the light and change their ways.
Facebook’s decision to uphold the ban on Donald Trump’s account proves that Big Tech has become Big Brother – and without competition from alternative platforms, it will never surrender its power willingly.
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Jeff Brain is the founder and CEO of an alternative social media platform, CloutHub. To learn more about CloutHub, visit www.clouthub.com/home