WASHINGTON–Heritage Foundation President Kay C. James released the following statement Wednesday after a decision by the Oversight Board to uphold Facebook’s and Instagram’s suspension of then-President Donald Trump from the platforms:
The Oversight Board’s decision to uphold the suspension is the wrong one, and one that all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, should be concerned about. However, it was entirely appropriate to admonish Facebook's vague and standardless penalty.
Big Tech companies should not be allowed to play by a set of rules that give them undue influence over American society while also avoiding any accountability for how they use that influence. It is time for Congress to act and reform Section 230 in a way that respects the rights of those engaged in private enterprise but also ensures companies like Facebook and Instagram take responsibility for the choices they make—especially when it comes to censoring individuals and opinions they don’t like.
Letting politically motivated companies police themselves as they manipulate civic discourse is not a long-term solution consistent with America’s values.
Whether it’s the president of the United States or an average American citizen in Des Moines, Big Tech should not have the ability to suppress viewpoints it finds objectionable—and it certainly shouldn’t have the ability to hide behind outdated laws in justifying such behavior. Censorship is a threat to our American republic, and woke corporations like Google, Twitter, and Facebook should not be allowed to engage in such behavior without consequence.
Today’s decision concerns one individual, but we all know that if Big Tech continues to feel emboldened to silence a sitting president, they can and will silence the rest of us.
While the Oversight Board has spent the past few months deliberating whether Facebook and Instagram should grant a democratically elected president access to their platforms, these companies have allowed dictatorial, adversarial regimes in China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea to pump out propaganda on those same platforms. Big Tech companies have put their hypocrisy on full display and, as a result, have lost the public’s trust.
There are ways for these companies to remove truly objectionable, obscene, and inciting content from their platforms, and there are ways Congress can and should change the law to allow them to do so. However, as these woke corporations continue to swing the sword of censorship, we will fight back.
Big Tech faces a choice: work to reform Section 230 and treat users with consistency and transparency now, or face more dire policy consequences in the future.