As today’s de-facto public square, the internet should be a place for discussion, not an echo-chamber.
That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys recently filed a friend-of-the-court brief in State of Louisiana v. Biden, a lawsuit aimed to hold the Biden administration accountable for working to silence American citizens online.
ADF’s brief highlighted the findings of a recent Congressional hearing on the Twitter Files, where independent journalists presented evidence that the government is playing a “central role” in wielding the internet as a tool for censorship. ADF also noted a recent series of investigative reports in the Washington Examiner showing that a nonprofit organization almost entirely funded by the U.S. State Department has been funneling hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to the Global Disinformation Index, a foreign activist group which blacklists conservative news outlets in order to deny them advertising dollars.
It’s a violation of constitutionally protected speech for the government to directly censor and silence viewpoints. And government officials are also breaking the law when they work hand-in-glove with third parties like Facebook and Twitter to silence speech that meets their disapproval. Censoring and limiting online debates strikes at the heart of the very principles upon which America was founded. Free speech is not a privilege of those favored by the government—it’s the God-given right of every person in America, regardless of their background or creed.
While the lawsuit is aimed at reining in the Biden administration, private tech companies also must be held accountable for their failure to respect the constitutional rights of their users. Many companies already commit to transparency on issues like environmental stewardship, diversity practices, and supply chain sustainability. But of the 50 companies scored by the Viewpoint Diversity Score 2022 Business Index, not one confirmed that it publicly discloses requests by governments or non-governmental organizations to restrict content or access to services. Companies can rebuild trust with the American people by publicly disclosing any request or recommendation made by governments or non-governmental organizations to restrict content, along with the rationale for the request and the company’s response.
Tech companies will need to make real policy changes to allow free speech to flourish on their platforms. Viewpoint Diversity Score provides a roadmap for policies that acknowledge and respect people’s right to free and open debate. And as an American software company who recently cut ties with the Global Disinformation Index showed, it’s never too late to correct course and pledge support for free speech.