Why do the tech giants censor conservative thought and suppress news that makes progressives look bad?
To many, the answer appears easy: tech executives and their employees are overwhelmingly progressive. They want to promote the progressive worldview, spread progressive values, and secure power for progressives.
That’s true as far as it goes—but it doesn’t go far enough, because it’s a trick question. The conventional answer explains why, given that the tech giants have decided to censor and suppress, they deploy those tools to help progressives. It doesn’t address the more important underlying question: why would a rational, profit-maximizing corporation choose to engage in censorship and suppression?
At first blush, it seems to make little sense. The entire business model underpinning social media involves making the experience easy, cheap, and pleasurable for the broadest possible audience, then selling information about audience members. Like all businesses, social media companies attempt to achieve that goal while minimizing exposure to costly liability, government intrusion and competitive entry. While economists may disagree about the optimal mix of liability, government, and competition, all would agree these external constraints impose necessary discipline on corporate behavior.
Corporations are thus highly sensitive to the rules and the environment that society hands them. If we don’t like their behavior, we probably need to change that environment. Are we as a society pleased to have a social media environment that censors and suppresses information to suit the tastes of its corporate leaders?
If so, we’re doing fine. If not—and everything about traditional American values favoring free speech, robust debate, a free and responsible press, and individual decision-making screams that social media censorship and suppression is unacceptable—we’ve got a serious problem. We’ve motivated deeply dangerous, antisocial, and anti-American behavior.
That societal “we” hardly lets companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google off the hook. They’ve become significant contributors to the dangerous downward spiral of debate and civic engagement rapidly destroying the American cultural landscape. It does, however, emphasize that we allowed, or worse, perhaps even encouraged that destructive behavior.
Read more at Townhall.com.