The Heartland Institute and the Media Research Center held a Zoom webinar on Monday to explain and discuss the need for, and prospects of, state-based responses to the pernicious censorship of conservative voices by Big Tech multinational corporations.
Click the image above to watch, and please share the video and link on your social media accounts. Here are some highlights:
“You can’t have a functioning democracy if you can’t have freedom of speech. What you’re seeing is that the future of speech … is through social media. And the giants of social media are actively engaging in the censorship of that very speech.
“The facts speak for themselves. You can argue, and we argue, that big media and social media together stole the 2020 elections. I don’t mean stealing it in the way that perhaps the former president brought it up. I mean it from the standpoint of withholding information from the American people, information that [had] the American people known about, would have dramatically changed the outcome.”
—Brent Bozell, founder and president, The Media Research Center
“Section 230 [of the Communications Decency Act of 1996] does not give the tech giants, the tech cartel, the right to censor political free speech. … Section 230 explicitly says the purpose is to maximize user control—not Facebook control, not Google control, not platform control.
“[Online speech] must be sexually obscene or excessively violent [to be legally removable]; otherwise you do not have blanket authority to play God in terms of what you do or don’t allow on the Internet. … Yes, we do have the right to insist that we can speak freely, especially on political topics and cultural topics, on the Internet.”
—James Taylor, President, The Heartland Institute
“There are currently 28 states looking at about 47 bills or resolutions related to this issue. … There’s basically four concepts or four ideas that legislators across the country are using to attack this issue. The most common is creating a civil cause of action, which allows individual users of a social media platform to sue Twitter, Facebook, YouTube … if they have been censored for political or religious speech.
“Just because Congress deems a market free does not a free market make. The fact that Section 230 exists is prima facie evidence that it is not a free market.”
—Cameron Sholty, Director of Government Relations, The Heartland Institute
“It’s a matter of what Section 230 allows or doesn’t allow and whether you’re treated as a publisher or as a platform. And it’s kind of like a reminder of Jon Stewart [of The Daily Show] when he was in his heyday. He’d be clown nose on and clown nose off. ‘Oh, I’m just a comedian, so what I’m saying doesn’t really matter. But oh, now it’s really important, you should pay attention and get your news from me.’
“And it seems to me the big tech companies are trying to have it both ways: [we’re] a platform when it serves us, but we’re a publisher when we feel like taking something off and putting something else back on.
“As for Section 230, we don’t have to repeal it. How about we try enforcing it? … It has to be a good-faith effort [to remove obscene or violent materials], and you can’t just silence somebody because you disagree with the politics, and that is obviously what’s been happening since … well … somebody they didn’t like got elected to the White House, let’s just put it that way.”
—Jim Lakely, Vice President and Communications Director, The Heartland Institute