From right: Craig Parshall, Brent Skorup, and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Photo Credit: Family Research Council
From left: Craig Parshall, Brent Skorup, and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Photo Credit: Family Research Council

I watched a webcast of a panel discussion held today over lunch hosted by the Family Research Council that addressed the topic of conservatives and Christians finding themselves censored on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as, YouTube and even Amazon.

The panelists included:

  • Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) who holds a seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. She is known as a bipartisan leader and policy expert on telecommunications issues and intellectual property rights.
  • Craig Parshall who is Special Counsel for Government Affairs for the American Center for Law and Justice. He has hosted and moderated numerous Washington D.C. roundtables on Internet freedom issues.
  • Brent Skorup is a Senior Research Fellow in the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. His research areas include wireless policy, new media regulation, telecommunications, and driverless cars.

I encourage you to watch the panel below:

There is a definite tension between free enterprise and free speech. Parshall leaned toward government action in response to censorship but said he preferred that government incentivizes platforms to protect free speech rather coerce platforms to do it through regulation.

Skorup warned that any government regulation could backfire.

Blackburn discussed a “light touch” piece of legislation she sponsored to address data privacy concerns.

I agree with Skorup, federal regulation is a slippery slope. I wrote last week in response to the Senate hearing with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook (and platforms like it) is a private company and they have the right to restrict content.

This is not a First Amendment issue, that only applies to governmental agencies. There are things Facebook and other social media platforms restrict that I agree with: inciting violence, sexual content, nudity, etc. I prefer not to see stuff like that on my Facebook feed.

Some social media platforms, like Tumblr for instance, will provide a filter if you request it.

I hope that through dialogue these platforms will come to realize they shouldn’t police viewpoints even ones that may offend others. It is important that as a free society conservatives and Christians have a platform for expressing our ideas to all people, not just people who agree with us.

Parshall noted that all conservatives and Christians want is an equal footing and that’s true. I don’t want anything more or less. Censorship of ideas is an illiberal position, not a liberal one. Hopefully, reason will prevail and the decision makers within these platforms will reject this push by those on the left. A free society will not florish if we are all driven to communicate and get our news in informational silos.

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