Free speech is getting a little more costly these days -- especially when it's offered by big tech. Case in point: just this week the American Conservative Union's YouTube account was served a seven-day suspension for allegedly violating the platform's community guidelines. Their crime? The group's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last weekend in Dallas, which was streamed on YouTube, supposedly contained "medical misinformation." The conference video contained a discussion of research from the Smith Center for Infectious Diseases & Urban Health and Saint Barnabas Medical Center -- which was apparently a bridge too far for the platform that hosts such "informative" videos as "Poodle Exercise with Humans."
YouTube told Breitbart, "At YouTube, we enforce our Community Guidelines equally for everyone, regardless of the speaker...Based on guidance from the CDC, FDA and other local health authorities, our COVID-19 misinformation policy doesn't currently allow content recommending Hydroxychloroquine (HQN) as an effective treatment or prevention method for the virus." No discussion allowed, banned for a week.
All this comes on the heels of the Biden administration taking action on big tech with an executive order last Friday. The order, in part, seeks to give the Federal Trade Commission greater authority to limit the size of big tech entities. But what the administration is targeting misses the root of the problem altogether. Craig Parshall, special counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice said the order evades the concerns many have about the emerging tyranny of big tech:
"[The executive order] absolutely bypasses that. It says that the Federal Trade Commission is to consider investigating and researching whether or not big tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple and Amazon are the ones that are engaging in activist conservative suppression of speech -- something not mentioned in the EO, by the way -- whether they are monopolistic in terms of suppressing competition, not suppressing free speech. And that's the issue. Yes, they are anti-competitive, but more important than competition to the marketplace, products and services is the marketplace of ideas. And this EO says nothing about the suppression of free speech by these handful of silicon giants."
These companies, as private organizations, are not subject to the First Amendment in providing free speech -- however their censorship can't go unchecked. Parshall explained:
"...the First Amendment was designed to control the activities of government suppressing private speech rather than private companies suppressing private speech. However, when you have a private company that accumulates market dominance, to the extent that these companies that I've mentioned have, then the Supreme Court says different rules apply if it really harms consumers. And I think there's nothing that harms consumers in this country more than freedom of speech being suppressed, particularly during political elections."
When companies which have positioned themselves as the de facto public square begin shaping that square into their own image and suppressing the views of groups like ACU, more government control of the internet without anything to encourage the free exchange of ideas is only adding fuel to the anti-free speech fire. With an administration that continues to swing and miss on this issue, it's time for Congress to stand up for the Constitution and for the people.