The 1st Amendment Freedom of Speech prevents governments from censoring debate, so students, faculty or guest speakers at state or city universities have the Constitutionally-protected right to discuss any idea or express any opinion, just like candidates can hand out palm cards on public streets because state schools and sidewalks are creations of government. But Yale, Disney, Facebook, and Twitter are non-governmental entities that are not legally required to honor the 1st Amendment. Still, these private enterprises have immense power, and abuses of immense power may harm the public interest and require a response.
Twenty-six years ago, to promote the growth of the nascent internet, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was enacted to protect websites from being sued for distributing what their users posted on their sites or deleting anything the platform’s managers considered objectionable. Justice Clarence Thomas has written that dominant communications tools, like Facebook and Twitter, should now be classified and legally treated like common carrier utilities, required to service everyone. They are today’s telephone and post office, not the bulletin board at a private club, and should not have the right to prevent the distribution of anything that could otherwise be legally delivered by the US mail.
The Conservative Party Supports:
- The 21st Century FREE Speech Act, which would repeal Section 230 and classify dominant social media platforms as “common carriers.”
- Withholding federal grants and scholarships from private colleges that deny academic freedom of speech.
- Shareholder lawsuits against companies that take political actions that injure the value of their company.