There is no need to detail all the occasions in recent years when mostly right-leaning content was censored, buried far down the search results, or “demonetized.” The key point is that, in the absence of a coherent reform of the way the network platforms are themselves governed, there has been a dysfunctional tug-of-war between the platforms’ spasmodic and not wholly sincere efforts to “fix” themselves and the demands of outside actors (ranging from the German government to groups of left-wing activists) for more censorship of whatever they deem to be “hate speech.”

At the same time, the founding generation of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, most of whom had libertarian inclinations, have repeatedly yielded to internal pressure from their younger employees, schooled in the modern campus culture of “no-platforming” any individuals whose ideas they consider “unsafe.” In the words of Brian Amerige, whose career at Facebook ended not long after he created a “FB’ers for Political Diversity” group, the company’s employees “are quick to attack — often in mobs — anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left‑leaning ideology.”

The net result seems to be the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, conspiracy theories such as Plandemic flourish on Facebook and elsewhere. On the other, the network platforms arbitrarily intervene when a legitimate article triggers the hate-speech-spotting algorithms and the content-moderating grunts. (As one of them described the process, “I was like, ‘I can just block this entire domain, and they won’t be able to serve ads on it?’ And the answer was, ‘Yes.’ I was like, ‘But … I’m in my mid-twenties.’”)