Jacob Sullum                                                |                  7.21.2021 12:01 AM                  President Joe

Biden Is Trying to Impose Online Censorship by Proxy

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2021-07-21 15:30:08

Jacob Sullum | 7.21.2021 12:01 AM

President Joe Biden wants to suppress speech that discourages Americans from being vaccinated against COVID-19. Because the First Amendment does not allow him to do that, he is asking Facebook and other social media companies to do it for him.

Or at least that's the way White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who calls the Biden administration's demands for speech restrictions "our asks," describes the situation. But given the federal government's power to make life difficult for Facebook et al., the line between a request and a command is hazy, and so is the line between private content moderation and government censorship.

The background to this dispute includes an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook that was dismissed last month but may be refiled by the Federal Trade Commission. It also includes Biden's opposition to a federal law that shields online platforms from liability for content posted by users, which he thinks "should be revoked," a woefully misguided idea that nevertheless has bipartisan support.

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