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Big Tech Censorship: Is Free Speech Dead, or Will Heartland Prevail?

October 20, 2021

The Heartlander, Fall 2021

The Declaration of Independence explicitly states that governments are instituted among men to secure our unalienable rights from those who would seek to suppress them. Free speech is clearly one of our unalienable rights. In today’s world, social media is the primary means by which people share political speech and opinions with one another. Yet, a few giant multinational corporations have captured the social media market—just three social media giants control 97 percent of U.S. social media activity—and have utilized their oligarchical power to suppress our free-speech rights.

Big Tech has aggressively targeted and stifled anybody and any political viewpoint that challenges Big Government and leftist agendas. Facebook proudly boasts that it censors and removes content that questions ever-shifting World Health Organization COVID narratives. Big Tech censors and removes material that challenges governmental directives on face masks, vaccines, economic shutdowns, and social distancing. YouTube censors and removes videos in which climate scientists present objective data casting doubt on United Nations’ climate narratives. Worse, Big tech has blocked, suspended, and permanently banned accounts of American citizens and our elected representatives merely for posting views promoting personal freedom and opposing to leftist ideology.

Adding fuel to the fire, President Joe Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, admitted the Biden administration works closely and actively with Facebook and other Big tech entities to identify, censor, and remove social media posts the president and his team do not like.

Against this backdrop, you might think that conservative and libertarian public policy organizations would stand up for our unalienable free speech rights. Yet, you would be wrong.

Big Tech gives prodigious amounts of money to conservative and libertarian public policy organizations, and most of those organizations have remained silent against the web giants’ assault on our liberties or have actively gone on the attack on behalf of Big Tech. How deeply have some of these organizations been funded and compromised? Many have personnel and even entire departments dedicated to supporting Big Tech. Astonishingly, some of these organizations have explicitly argued—and I quote—“Big Tech is not engaging in Coronavirus censorship,” even though Facebook openly admitted to removing more than 18 million posts that countered government COVID-19 narratives.

The Heartland Institute remains undaunted and is fighting like wildcats to ensure Big Government and Big Tech do not eradicate our free-speech rights. Heartland’s government relations staff personally discussed tech censorship with legislators in all 50 states this year, giving them the ammunition to go on the offensive against Big Tech censorship. This included in-person legislative testimony in 19 states. In many of these legislative hearings, Heartland was the only public policy organization testifying against Big Tech censorship. Thanks in large part to our efforts, 33 states introduced legislation, and two states—Florida and Texas—enacted laws to protect online free speech. Several others are poised to enact similar laws in 2022.

Still, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Heartland hosted four tech censorship Zoom webinars for state legislators and the media. We published several editorials and numerous web articles on the topic. We wrote a Big Tech censorship resolution that legislators passed by majority vote at the American Legislative Exchange Council.

As I write this, Heartland is ready to host dozens of state legislators at an Emerging Issues Forum on tech censorship in October. The Forum will provide policymakers with all the ammunition they need to take the fight to Big Tech in 2022.

Free speech will not die at the hands of Big Tech or Big Government—so long as The Heartland Institute remains in the fight!

Author
James Taylor is president of The Heartland Institute.
jtaylor@heartland.org
Why We Must Fight Big Tech to Protect Free Speech on Social Media

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