Government regulation of social media: a cure far worse than the disease

Government regulation of social media would be a cure far worse than the disease

Editor: Johnathan Meyers | Tactical Investor

Government regulation of social media

In recent weeks, Congress has grilled Twitter, Facebook and Google about their role in allowing foreign interests to place ads and articles intended to divide the electorate and spread false information during the 2016 election.

Now a number of people in and out of government are calling for federal regulation of social media.

Lay down some rules, the thinking goes, and we would be able to prevent the infestation of bots and fake news from our news feeds and ads. Democracy would be saved – or, at least, foreign interference in our elections kept in check.

However, as someone who has studied and taught the First Amendment for decades, I would argue that if such regulations were enacted, the main victims would be not the purveyors of fake news, but our freedom of expression. In my view, the result would do far more damage to our democracy than any foreign misinformation campaign ever could.

Free speech being attacked from all sides, the First Amendment is under a lot of duress.

Arguably, it’s been that way since the Supreme Court’s “clear and present danger” decision in 1919, which spelt out when limits on free speech could be lawful. It not only held that the government had an obligation to stop someone from “falsely shouting fire in a theatre,” but also opened the gates to all manner of government violations of the First Amendment injunction that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Full Story


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