Property Rights and Infinite Cyberspace

If Republicans can rediscover their fortitude, we are likely to witness the emergence of larger, decentralized online social-media platforms.

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What is the one force that can prevent the purported Big Tech villains such as Facebook and Google from being displaced as the dominant platforms? Republicans.

Normally, those on the right would trust markets to come up with an answer to their frustrations over suppression of conservative voices in media.

Back in 2007, the Guardian ran the headline, “Will MySpace Ever Lose Its Monopoly?” Everybody laughed — for a while.

Now, many conservatives suffering from a crisis of faith in creative destruction are supporting policies that would perversely bring about the political suppression of their speech by handing powers over to the likes of the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to certify whatever political neutrality is.

Yet the MySpace lesson still holds. Today, you’d have to explain to the young folks who’ve ditched Facebook for TikTok and other apps what MySpace even was.

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Decades of leftist dominance in schools, entertainment, and news media have many on the right worried that they’re on the losing side of a culture war in the social-media space, too. Conservatives are feeling shut out by “woke” boardrooms and discriminated against on the biggest social-media platforms.

In response, Republicans are circulating a package of legislative proposals spanning heightened antitrust regulation, stripping the biggest social-media companies of their liability protections for content posted by third parties, and even corporate breakup.

But to equate cancel culture with censorship and to respond with legislation that would greatly expand regulation online misunderstands the nature of both the Internet and the government, with consequences that are as unattractive as they are unnecessary.

The Left, rest assured, is rejoicing that panic is spurring conservatives to override their traditional allegiances to property rights and limited government.

Somehow, conservatives had best come back around to the realization that a non-depletable Internet cannot be monopolized unless the government circumscribes it. Once the government starts calling the shots by either forcing or blocking, that becomes the censorship. That Facebook wants regulation should be a gigantic red flag. It would be part of any legislative resolution, and be the dominant social network forever. After all, Jen Psaki told us so. “You shouldn’t be banned from one platform and not others for providing misinformation out there” was how she put it at a recent briefing.

Control, content removal or promotion, algorithm refinement, and the like are not coercion or censorship, but rather exercises of the free speech of the businesses that own the platforms themselves.

The imperative is to ensure that future conservative-oriented platforms are able to retain those very same freedoms.

Read the full article at National Review.