The issue of free speech has been at the center of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other large social media companies. Now you got conservatives and right wing people calling for government regulation to mandate companies not censor content. Or you could call it the fairness doctrine for the Internet. Who would’ve thought they would ever support that?
Corporate power and the control it has over speech online is a legitimate discussion and debate to have. But there’s no easy solution to it. Some candidates for president have promised to protect free speech online. Whatever that means. This includes Elizabeth Warren and (my candidate Tulsi Gabbard). Some promises have been vague, some simple, and some just completely unrealistic. But I think I have a pretty simple solution. It’s something Trump, Alex Jones, and liberals can get behind.
The government should create a public forum online. An online public square where people can say whatever they want because it’s government property and designed to be a public square. Content would not be censored as long as it’s legal just like a protest on the street. You could call it a “public option” for the Internet. Or you call it “Reddit 2”.
Now how far would this public option for the Internet go? Would there be a video streaming service? That would probably be expensive. Would there be an alternative Facebook website run by the government? I don’t think anybody who doesn’t trust the government with privacy would want to put themself with that. But with someone like Alex Jones he probably wouldn’t have a choice.
There is of course a downside to this. I know I said there would be no censorship but assuming it would operate the same way as FCC regulated airwaves there would probably be some. For example you can’t swear certain words on public television or radio. You also can’t show nudity, porn, or a certain amount of violence. Even with those FCC like rules, this new online public forum environment would probably be worse then other social media websites. Those turned away from Facebook and YouTube because of despicable behavior will be concentrated a lot here. The racist and bigoted membership would probably be shockingly over represented. That’s why I called this new online forum Reddit 2.
Like I said there’s no easy solution.