Shutting down social media companies would violate the First Amendment

Some of us who have long criticized Twitter, Facebook and other companies for bias and speech regulation. However, such private speech regulation presents a difficult “Little Brother” problem under our Constitution, which is focused on state action. Ironically, Trump is suggesting a more chilling prospect of using government power to retaliate against companies due to their bias. That is neither nuanced nor difficult. It would constitute a core violation of the First Amendment.

The President tweeted “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that happen again.”

Again, I have been a long critic of these companies and their policies. However, this threat is chilling and wrong. It is a circular call for retaliatory regulation to deter the viewpoint bias. It is akin to denouncing those without fire detectors by threatening to burn down their homes.