In a few short years, social media platforms have gone from being shiny new paragons of the internet’s virtue to globally despised scourges. Once credited with fostering a global civil society and bringing down tyrannical governments, they are now blamed for an incredible assortment of social ills. In a new study, Milton Mueller suggests that the moral panic and proposals for regulation threaten freedom and democracy far more than the social media platforms themselves.
Many conservatives argue that Facebook and Google are monopolies seeking to restrict conservative speech. In contrast, some on the left complain that large social media platforms fostered both Trump’s election in 2016 and violence in Charlottesville in 2017. Many on both sides believe that government should actively regulate the moderation of social media platforms to attain fairness, balance, or other values. In a new paper, Cato scholar John Samples argues that preventing harms caused by “fake news” or “hate speech” lies well beyond the jurisdiction of the government.
Two months of drama in the House of Representatives over the soon-to-expire FISA Section 702 mass surveillance program came to an end with a bipartisan group of House members first defeating a FISA reform amendment (USA RIGHTS Act) offered by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), then passing the GOP House leadership bill. Over 16 years after the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent repeated passage or renewal of draconian “temporary” but “emergency” domestic surveillance laws in response, it’s fair to ask: Have we officially abandoned the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights?