Though leftists frequently claim that it isn’t happening, conservatives are acutely aware of the frequency and scope of Big Tech censorship.
People who dare to post something online that goes against leftist dogma routinely find themselves booted from the internet, victims of the intolerant gaggle of digital censors.
It doesn’t always happen immediately. Last month, for example, YouTube suddenly removed a video of an interview featuring Heritage Foundation elections expert Hans von Spakovsky that had been posted over a year ago.
The interview, recorded at CPAC 2021 for “The Jacob Kersey Program” podcast, covered various election integrity issues and how to restore trust in the voting system by passing commonsense election security measures.
On the show, Mr. von Spakovsky cited several examples of where voter fraud had thrown election results in question, prompting judges to throw out the results and order new elections. These were largely local elections. At no point did Mr. von Spakovsky imply that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Still, YouTube removed the video, claiming it violated the platform’s rules surrounding “misinformation” and the 2020 presidential election. Why this suddenly became an issue more than a year after the video was uploaded is anyone’s guess.
Ultimately, there was a happy ending. After The Daily Signal reported the story, YouTube quietly put the video back up, without acknowledging why it took it down in the first place.
That wasn’t the first time YouTube censored someone for discussing the 2020 election, even if they aren’t claiming the election was stolen.
On March 14, I did an interview on election integrity with “The Vic Porcelli Show.” A week later, the hosts informed me that YouTube had banned Newstalk STL, the radio station airing the show, from the platform.
The hosts had asked me about a Rasmussen Reports poll that found over 50% of voters believe cheating impacted the 2020 presidential election. Again, neither the hosts nor I claimed that the election was stolen. Rather, our conversation focused on Americans’ perceptions of elections, and how it was essential for the sake of our democracy to pass legislation making it easier to vote, but harder to cheat.
For this, the unelected tech arbiters at YouTube judged Newstalk STL too dangerous to be heard. The station was summarily banned.
Thankfully, state and federal lawmakers are starting to fight back against Big Tech censorship that suppresses Americans’ First Amendment rights online.
On May 24, 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill making it easier for private citizens to sue tech giants over online censorship, as well as fining social media companies who deplatform candidates for office during campaign season.
The legislation requires platforms to be open and transparent in how they moderate content and gives users a way to fight for their rights if Big Tech decides to cancel them.
This is a great first step. Moreover, allowing this type of legislation to develop at the state level will let people see what works and what doesn’t as the fight against online censorship intensifies.
But there is a need for action at the federal level.
Section 230, an archaic law passed when the internet was born, is often used as a shield for Big Tech companies to hide behind.
Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rogers of Washington and Jim Jordan of Ohio are drafting legislation that would remove Section 230 protections for companies like YouTube while protecting smaller platforms and allowing for competition.
Any long-term solution to Big Tech censorship will require a fusion of state and local government cooperation. Big Tech censorship represents an existential threat to the future of free speech in America and must be fought at all costs.
If the First Amendment is dead online, it will soon die offline too.
• Doug Blair is a news producer and podcast host for The Daily Signal, the Heritage Foundation’s multimedia news organization.