Content Moderation

06/11/2021

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Kir Nuthi
Kir Nuthi Public Affairs Manager

Republicans want to declare tech companies common carriers, but they would hate the results. “More and more conservatives critique social media by arguing that websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google are effectively the modern public square that shouldn’t have moderation practices built to balance online safety and free speech,” writes Kir Nuthi at Techdirt:

So it’s only natural that a proposal like common carriage gained traction in the Trump presidency and has not lost momentum since. Just look at Sen. Hagerty’s 21st Century FREE Speech Act.

Some conservative critics think treating these sites as common carriers ticks many of their boxes—less content moderation, less alleged anti-conservative bias, and more regulation of America’s tech companies. But they’re wrong. Not only is it an unconstitutional solution, its design to work around First Amendment jurisprudence will almost certainly make the internet worse, not better, for conservatives.

[…] Nondiscrimination is a central feature of traditional common carriers, but it is not a feature of social media. Unlike the railroads and communications companies of the Gilded Age, social media relies on the ability to contextualize and discriminate between different content to provide useful information to users. Content moderation is at the center of that, providing websites the ability to balance free expression and online safety to maximize both and make the internet somewhere we want to spend time. Concerned parents shouldn’t have to wade through expletives, references to violence, and sexual content just to connect with their friends and family as well as protect their kids online.

The ability to moderate is a feature, not a bug, of social media.

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