by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
There was a time, not too long ago, when the American tech billionaires truly believed they could have it all. They believed that they could create platforms for all people, encourage engagement and dialogue, get immensely rich, and change the world in a specific, progressive way. …
… It turns out that when you give human beings access to public platforms — and when you create a marketplace of ideas — you often unleash forces that you can’t control. Human nature asserts itself.
It also turns out that when you place even idealistic progressive icons in the crosshairs of a public-relations nightmare that threatens their life’s work, they will react defensively. They’ll seek first to preserve their corporation and their reputation. Human nature asserts itself again.
I’ve been critical of the social-media giants. I believe that in the United States they should default in favor of free speech and adopt a First Amendment–based approach to free expression — reminding disgruntled users that they can liberally use the mute and block functions to protect themselves from speech they don’t like. …
… Our social-media companies face a series of fateful choices. If they choose to be primarily platforms for human expression, they’ll empower many millions of voices that they despise. They’ll facilitate outcomes they may loathe. If, by contrast, they choose to prioritize progressive ideology and progressive outcomes, they’ll limit their reach, their influence, and their wealth. They’ll open themselves up to aggressive competition.