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New Ideal - Reason | Individualism | Capitalism

Does Social Media Censor? A Discussion with Steve Simpson

In this episode of New Ideal Live, Ben Bayer sits down with Steve Simpson, senior attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, to discuss whether “deplatforming” by tech companies constitutes censorship.

Topics covered include:

  • What free speech is, and what constitutes a violation of this right, especially in the context of social media;
  • Why the solution to “censorship by proxy” is not more government pressure on private companies;
  • Whether companies today are making decisions in reaction to government pressure;
  • Why private companies’ right to free speech includes the right to make irrational decisions about what content to sponsor or remove;
  • Why social media companies cannot and should not be content neutral;
  • Why Section 230’s distinction between publisher and platform liability is valid and useful;
  • The real motive behind the pushes to repeal Section 230;
  • The legal basis for the “deplatforming” of social media companies by vendor IT companies;
  • What to make of the fact that tech companies have been subsidized by the government;
  • Why the right to free speech fundamentally protects the creation of rational values, which the social media companies have done.

Mentioned in the discussion were the Wall Street Journal’s article “Save the Constitution From Big Tech,” the Ayn Rand Lexicon entry on censorship, Ayn Rand’s article “Have Gun, Will Nudge,” Steve Simpson’s book Defending Free Speech and his article “Unjust Attacks on Facebook,” as well as Ben Bayer’s “Ominous Threats to the Marketplace of Ideas” and “Facebook: Censor or Victim?

This podcast was recorded on January 26, 2021. Watch or listen to the discussion below. Listen and subscribe from your mobile device on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify or Stitcher. Watch archived podcasts here.

Podcast audio:


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Agustina Vergara Cid

Agustina Vergara Cid, LLB and LLM, is an associate fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute and an opinion columnist at the Orange County Register.

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