Despite what Google describes as a “shift towards censorship” from big tech companies over the past three years, Democrat presidential candidates have said that they will use the power of the law to force even more censorship from Silicon Valley.
Responding to a query from the far-left website Vox, Democrat candidates including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg all pledged to force big tech companies to crack down on “hate” even further.
Some even implied that absent the protections of Section 230, tech companies could somehow be held legally accountable for hate speech. This is incorrect — “hate speech” is legal under the First Amendment.
“Tech giants and online platforms should not be shielded from responsibility when they knowingly allow content on their platforms that promotes and facilitates violence,” said Bernie Sanders, who also promised to ensure that “right-wing groups” don’t “abuse regulation” of tech companies to “advance their agenda.”
Sen. Sanders said that Section 230 was written “written well before the current era of online communities, expression, and technological development” and that he would, therefore, work to ensure tech companies are held accountable for “dangerous activity” on their platforms.
Candidate Michael Bennet also made the incorrect claim that removing Section 230 protections from social media companies would somehow allow big tech to be legally liable for First Amendment protected speech.
“It is time to revisit the broad immunity provided by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which in many cases has shielded tech companies from accountability for misinformation and hate speech on their platforms,” said Bennet.
Pete Buttigieg was more moderate, saying that tech companies should merely be “called out.”
“Sites that traffic in hate and encourage or fail to moderate abuse and hate should be called out as facilitating socially harmful speech,” said the candidate.
Elizabeth Warren also stopped short of saying she would specifically seek legal accountability for hate speech on social media, instead promising to tackle anticompetitive behavior.
“Big tech companies cannot continue to hide behind free speech while profiting off of hate speech and disinformation campaigns,” said Warren.
“That’s why I’ve called out Facebook for operating as a disinformation-for-profit machine and why I’m committed to unwinding Facebook’s anti-competitive mergers and cracking down on practices that allow the company to undermine our democracy.”
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Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.