Silicon Valley’s huge content aggregators have no Constitutional constraints to uphold the first amendment. Unlike the early TV broadcasters, which were using the public airways, these companies are using pipes owned by themselves or other private firms.
Alphabet’s Google and YouTube as well as Twitter, Facebook, Go Daddy and Reddit can censor the content of any poster or customer for any reason they can cite.
Now given the tech sector’s left-leaning political attitudes, this power to control what appears on their platform has to be bumping up against free speech in the broadest sense.
Of course in any business, if there is a segment of the industry not being served, then there is room for a competitor to come in. However, with the size and capital of these firms cited above, profits are at a premium for any start-ups or smaller competitors.
Perhaps the pendulum is swinging too far left, due to the fact that some Democrats say Hillary Clinton’s presidential defeat can be laid at the right’s “fake news” presence on the web. I think that’s foolish in the sense that there was plenty of real news the campaign had to navigate and obvious couldn’t in the end.
I just think that for all its libertarian beginnings, the web has moved too far left for its own good. And since the trillions of dollars that have been made in the San Francisco Bay area over the years this was probably enviable.
That said, I think we need a test case on the order of “public airways” as communication moves to the digital platforms and not leave it to the individual companies to shape public opinion through what they allow or not allow to be viewed on their services.