Shareholders in Alphabet, the parent of Google and YouTube, have introduced a resolution calling for disclosure of any collusion between Alphabet’s companies and the Biden administration in suppressing information that is critical of administration policies:
The National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog group that holds a voting stake in Google and YouTube’s parent corporation Alphabet, submitted the shareholder proposal to the company this week, following a string of controversies over Google and YouTube’s removal of videos that question the Biden administration’s COVID-19 policies.
The proposed disclosure requirement could shed light on whether the administration has directed tech companies to remove information that it deems misleading, a scenario that raises concerns about government censorship. In July, the White House said it was “in regular touch” with social media platforms to discuss ways to combat “misinformation” online.
Tech companies say that as private corporations, the First Amendment does not apply to them, and they can engage in whatever censorship they may deem appropriate, for political or other reasons. But that isn’t necessarily true if tech companies (or other information sources like newspapers or television networks) are acting at the behest of, or in collusion with, the government:
The NLPC said coordination between Alphabet and the Biden administration could amount to “unconstitutional censorship, opening the Company to liability claims by victims,” citing Supreme Court rulings “that private entities may not engage in suppression of speech at the behest of government, as it has the same effect as direct government censorship.”
Shareholders have a right to know whether management is engaging in conduct that could give rise to legal liability, and if such liability ensues down the road, there is potential for shareholder lawsuits against management.
I believe that Alphabet is owned largely by left-wing insiders, so this proposed shareholder resolution probably isn’t going anywhere. But pressure from shareholders is one way to disrupt the cozy and perhaps illegal relationship that exists between the Biden administration and the tech platforms.