In a recently published blog post, Twitter announced its plans to “protect” political discourse ahead of the upcoming U.S. midterm elections by reaffirming its commitment to its “Civic Integrity Policy.”
Given Silicon Valley’s tendency to suppress conservative speech while emboldening leftist causes, it is all but certain this policy will be used exclusively for right-wing censorship. And considering the impracticality of introducing regulations prior to the 2022 midterms, the Republican Party must make regulating Big Tech a top priority in order to ensure the integrity of the 2024 presidential election.
According to Twitter, its Civic Integrity Policy “covers the most common types of harmful misleading information about elections and civic events” by flagging “misleading content” and, in some cases, outright suppressing content that contains “false or misleading claim[s].” But, with recent history as a guide, we can see that Twitter does not enforce this policy honestly.
In 2020, just weeks before the presidential election, Twitter suppressed discussion of Hunter Biden’s laptop. The company went so far as to prevent users from sharing the New York Post story exposing the scandal with one another, claiming that its circulation violated the company’s policy on spreading information obtained via hacking. Coincidentally, Twitter did nothing to stop the circulation of leaked copies of Donald Trump’s tax filings.
Why does this matter?
Twitter justified its suppression of speech that favored a Republican incumbent by falsely designating it as ill-begotten misinformation while simultaneously doing nothing to crack down on the likely illegally obtained information that damaged the same incumbent’s reputation among the electorate.
It just so happens that by suppressing negative stories about Joe Biden, Big Tech may have handed him the election as 82 percent of Biden voters in seven swing states were unaware of all of the scandals attached to him. Seventeen percent of these voters said that knowledge of these scandals before voting would have caused them to change their vote.
The company’s integrity policy was applied in ways that specifically targeted speech favorable to the Republican Party. By censoring this speech, Twitter played a direct role in Joe Biden’s ascension to the presidency.
Social media’s utility is largely the provision of a digital town square where people can share information with other people. So, ethically, ought companies that monetize user data obtained from speech-centric platforms not protect speech?
But more importantly, considering how often Big Tech platforms such as Twitter act on behalf of the federal government, they must be held accountable for violating the First Amendment rights of American users. Corporations that function as extensions of the government must be compelled to uphold the constitutional protections of American citizens.
In a July 2021 briefing, former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explicitly stated that the Biden administration intended to collaborate with Big Tech to “monitor misinformation more closely” and “proactively address the public’s questions without inadvertently giving a platform to health misinformation that can harm their audiences.” She also acknowledged that the White House intended to reign in counter-regime narratives by “bringing individuals and organizations together to address misinformation.”
The White House was so effective at persuading Big Tech to crack down on narratives in opposition to its own that social media companies deplatformed journalists who were too effective at asking questions about Biden’s Covid strategy and Covid vaccine efficacy.
Agents of the government must be subject to the U.S. Consitution and prevented from infringing on the rights of American citizens. And despite what tech executives will say when testifying before Congress, these companies are politically motivated and serve the interests of the political left. Is there any question as to whether Big Tech plans to mobilize in favor of Democrats again in 2024?
It is far too late — and politically impossible — for congressional Republicans to introduce regulatory legislation that would reign in social media platforms like Twitter before the 2022 midterm elections. So, upon reclaiming control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the GOP must act to secure digital free speech ahead of the 2024 presidential election.