I’ve commented frequently about the tendency of foreign governments to interfere with speech rights in pursuit of legitimate public policy objectives. Is there hate speech or terrorist material online? Let’s require websites and social media platforms to purge it from their systems. Is there outdated or irrelevant material online? Let’s require search engines to delete links to this material. Is there fake news? Let’s require online websites to block it. In each case, the law would go too far. It would restrict far more speech than is necessary to achieve legitimate policy goals.
The role of internet platforms in keeping their systems free of harmful speech and activity is back in the news, driven this time by the use that ISIS is making of social media to recruit new adherents to its cause. By making needed judgements, social media platforms are acting in a socially responsible way. We don’t need government agencies to step in and take over this delicate balancing role.