Democrats Threaten to Regulate Twitter

Two House Democrats have written a letter to Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, threatening “increased regulations” if Twitter fails to crack down on objectionable speech. Bridget Johnson reports at PJ Media:

Two House lawmakers have asked the CEO of Twitter to “take immediate action to identify and suspend Twitter accounts and automated boys [sic] that are being used to spread racist and violent behavior,” stressing it’s “incumbent” for the social-media platform “to combat the racial animus that is being spread” there.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), the first African-American woman to serve in Congress from her home state, and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, sent the letter Tuesday to Twitter chief Jack Dorsey….

The letter also referred to Russian accounts, about which a Twitter vice president recently met with Congressional staff. But its main focus was speech deemed racially offensive:

“It is also troubling to learn that Twitter has become a platform where people feel comfortable sharing racist ideologies, ultimately contributing to the type of violence that we witnessed in August 2017 at the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville,” the lawmakers wrote.
They acknowledged Twitter’s power for good as a tool to “galvanize social movements,” but added that “as a result of the far-reaching nature of Twitter’s technology, we have seen an effort to undermine our democracy, create or fan flames of racial divisions, and spread hate speech that can ultimately culminate into violence.”

No one I know is in favor of racism or racist speech. I spend very little time on Twitter, but the tweets I have seen that “fan flames of racial divisions” have nearly all been of the Black Lives Matter variety, and worse of the same sort. Some of those, we now know, came from fake Russian Twitter accounts that sought to amplify the Black Lives Matter message. But I don’t suppose that is what the Congressmen are talking about.

And “hate speech”–generally defined, as best I can tell, as speech liberals don’t like–“that can ultimately culminate into [sic] violence” is constitutionally protected, a fact that the letter’s authors either don’t know or don’t care about. We heard hate speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, and it may have “ultimately culminated” in James Hodgkinson’s attempt to assassinate Republican Congressmen. Nevertheless, it was protected by the First Amendment.

“We are concerned that insufficient government oversight over your firm is inadvertently leading to deeper racial divisions and threats to our democracy,” Cleaver and Watson Coleman added. “If Twitter continues to prove unable or hesitant to grasp the seriousness of this threat and combat the racialized climate that is being stimulated on your platforms, we, as members of Congress, will be left with little option but to demand for [sic] increased regulations and government oversight of this industry to address these problems.”

Nice platform you have here. Shame if anything were to happen to it. This is the Washington protection racket: threaten unconstitutional “increased regulations and government oversight” in order to intimidate companies into complying with government demands. But then Twitter, like most companies, is probably led by liberals who are happy to go along with demands to rid their platform of nonconforming speech. Twitter likely will find ways to crack down on speech liberals don’t like, even though the two representatives of the minority party who issued the threat have zero ability to enact legislation.

Is that assessment too cynical? I sincerely hope so, but I doubt that it is.

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