Derived from English common law, “common carriage” is a centuries-old legal term that applies to businesses like railroads and telephone companies. Unlike private or contract carriers, common carriers provide their services to the general public without distinguishing between their customers or deciding what they will and will not carry. By contrast, social media businesses like Facebook and Twitter have always moderated and curated content. They have always distinguished between different forms of user-generated content.
In recent years, proposals to treat social media as common carriers have gained traction, but this cannot be a solution—legally or practically. That is why today, NetChoice released this video, titled “Why Common Carriage Isn’t a Conservative Friendly Solution,” to debunk what treating social media as common carriers would do for Americans online.
“Common carriage will make the internet less conservative-friendly by protecting and promoting content conservatives find inappropriate, like obscenity, indecency and profanity,” said Robert Winterton, Director of Public Affairs at NetChoice. “It’s absurd to think social media fits the criteria of common carriage as these online companies rely on content moderation to curate high-quality content.”
“When conservatives actively work to mitigate online harassment and the proliferation of explicit materials online, they should not be looking to common carriage as a solution. Common carriage will only exacerbate their concerns and increase horrific content online.”
The NetChoice video dives into how by turning to common carriage in their crusade to fight alleged anticonservative bias, conservatives might not like the result—an internet that ignores the best it offers while proliferating the worst.
Find the full video here.