Social Media Giants Shouldn’t Be Arbiters of Appropriate Speech

Of course, Facebook, YouTube, and other media are free to ban conspiracy-mongers such as Alex Jones from their platforms. They have a right to dictate the contours of permissible speech on their sites and to enforce those standards dutifully or hypocritically or ideologically, using any method they see fit. No one seriously disputes this.

Twitter also has a right, as a private entity, to take a stand and, as the company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey explains it, dispassionately allow free exchanges of ideas—even the ugly ones Jones’ Infowars offers—as long as users don’t break the company’s rules. Yet here we are, watching a number of journalists—supposed sentinels of free expression—demanding that billionaire CEOs start policing speech that makes them uncomfortable.

Jones, who has made numerous hateful and reckless remarks, should make any reasonable person uncomfortable. In this regard, though, he’s certainly not alone. And if Facebook is now guaranteeing a platform free of unpleasant voices who break its vague terms of service, the company has lots of work ahead.

To some extent, I can understand how frustrating it is watching a bigoted conspiracy theorist who has destroyed lives be provided a voice on a large media platform. After all, I’ve been trying to ignore Al Sharpton’s cable show for years. Yet if I were running a social media platform, I’d like to think I would allow nearly anyone—minus those who threaten violence or otherwise break the law—speak. It’s not as if users wouldn’t possess a block button. I can’t recall a single time, in my decade using social media, that I opened an Infowars link. I doubt most of you have, either. Even if you did, you wouldn’t melt. They’re just words.

And though the ejection of Jones isn’t the end of the world and it doesn’t necessarily portend a mass expulsion of less extreme voices, let’s stop acting as if conservatives are foolish for harboring some concerns about the incrementalist goals of would-be liberal censors.

Every day, contemporary liberals run around accusing Donald Trump supporters of being in league with white supremacists and social conservatives of being unrepentant bigots. Republicans are regularly charged with

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