"If they can censor me, they can censor you." That was former President Donald Trump's warning to America when he announced a blockbuster class-action lawsuit this week against the titans of Silicon Valley. Harnessing all of the outrage and grassroots anger over the treatment of conservatives these last several months, the 45th president is coming for the Big Tech Leftists at Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, with legal guns blazing. As far as he's concerned, they may be able to silence conservatives -- but they won't be able to stop them.
Of course, the CEOs of these platforms will argue that this is about stopping misinformation or overt threats of violence. But after the last several years of obvious targeting, it's impossible to argue that this is anything but a small group of overly powerful companies banding together to shut down their opponents. They'll do anything or use any justification to sideline ideas, information, or people that might hurt their Leftist cause -- even if it violates what our country and Constitution stand for. They're "shameless," the former president writes in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. "They are manipulating and controlling the political debate itself," he argues -- all while "Chinese propagandists and the Iranian dictator spew threats and hateful lies on these platforms with impunity."
If the internet is our new public square, then it needs to operate freely and fairly for all. Instead, platforms like Facebook and Twitter are weaponizing social media to achieve their political goals. And as traditional liberals like Alan Dershowitz have argued, that's "unacceptable." Everything that Big Tech is doing, he insists, is "inconsistent with the spirit of free speech," and his hope -- and others' -- is that this lawsuit "will shake things up." Otherwise, the American conversation will continue to be controlled by a monopoly of woke, unaccountable CEOs, who have no respect for the First Amendment. Big Tech, Trump reminds the country, is not the official censorship arm of the U.S. government -- and it shouldn't be allowed to act like it.
Republicans in Congress, who've been trying to take away these companies' immunity for years, agree. And on Wednesday, they announced that they're going to strike while the lawsuit is hot, and work to hold the Silicon Valley speech police accountable. As Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) explained on "Washington Watch," the first priority is wiping out the old shield that's insulated and shielded these CEOs from the country's legal wrath. "Until you go after their liability protections in Section 230, you're not going to be able to address all of the things they're doing to censor conservatives." Right now, if Twitter or Facebook pulls the plug on someone, there's nothing they can do about it. They can't sue, they can't take action -- all because of an outdated telecommunications law that's letting the bullies at these companies dictate the terms of American debate.
"...[I]t's time Big Tech faces the music," Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) agreed. "And House Republicans are ready to lead." The same day Trump announced his lawsuit, the conservative members of the Judiciary Committee rolled out a new framework to stop the bias and check Big Tech. With special emphasis on accountability, transparency, and strengthening anti-trust review, the group plans to fight for floor time and address the situation. In the meantime, they're hoping that state leaders -- like the coalition of conservative attorneys general -- will help carry the fight on the local level.
Frankly, McCarthy said, "I have more faith in elected state leaders than in the unelected federal bureaucracy, which is as ideologically homogeneous as Big Tech. I think our former colleague Jeff Landry will more effectively prosecute anti-competitive behavior than Lina Khan." And it's no wonder. The new head of the FCC, Chairman Lina Khan, has a radical resume that includes everything from working on Donald Trump's impeachment case to serving at a far-Left think tank. She's about as unlikely as George Soros to step up and demand accountability from online platforms -- especially when they're serving Democrats' political interests.
While it'll be an uphill climb for Republicans to get anything done in the minority, their crusade is still laying some important groundwork. Without the gavel, they can still move this agenda forward just by creating a sharp contrast to the leadership Americans have now. Voters can choose: do they want to support a party that's content with Big Tech, which is throttling back and silencing free speech -- or a party that supports free and fair speech for all people in the virtual town square?