Tedesco on GB News: “Huge Problem of Private Censorship in This Country”

Our fundamental freedoms don’t hinge on whether government officials agree with what we have to say – or whether they appreciate our sense of humor.

That may be clear enough from a cursory glance at the First Amendment, but that hasn’t stopped New York state officials from pressuring social media platforms to censor Americans online.

That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom recently filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of The Babylon Bee with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, supporting the effort to halt a New York law that suppresses speech—including comedy and satire. New York’s law pressures social media companies to censor hot-button topics on their platforms under the state’s definition of “hateful conduct.”

New York’s “hateful conduct” requirement encourages social media users to censor speech by reporting speech they consider offensive to social media platforms who can then remove it. The state also requires social media platforms to endorse and publish New York’s definition of “hateful conduct” on their own websites—even if they disagree with that definition or have no desire to regulate that kind of content. Unfortunately, New York state officials’ actions are not just an isolated incident. As ADF Senior Vice President of Corporate Engagement and Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco told GB News, this law is just one instance of the widespread issue of censorship by proxy.

“There are activists intentionally trying to bypass our First Amendment rights, free speech rights, by going to the private companies, just like New York is doing here, and getting them to censor,” Tedesco said. “We have this huge problem of private censorship in this country. Whether you want to say it’s caused by activists trying to co-opt those companies, or they’re just willing to do it themselves, it’s still an enormous problem.”

Tedesco’s statement is backed up by a recent opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and ample evidence that government officials from the White House, FBI, and other federal agencies partnered with private Tech companies behind the scenes in the past few years to remove or restrict content they didn’t like, even when it contained accurate information. And global private organizations have also colluded with media and marketing companies to remove conservative speech from the internet.

As Tedesco pointed out in the interview, censorship is not a victimless crime.

“People are increasingly afraid to express their views online, and they’re afraid about losing their bank accounts or their social media accounts simply because people might disagree with them at these companies,” Tedesco said. “That’s not a healthy free speech culture, and we need one.”

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. Everyone stands to lose when social media becomes an echo chamber for government-sanctioned messages. That’s why tech companies need to make real policy changes to allow free speech to flourish on their platforms. The Viewpoint Diversity Score provides a roadmap for policies that acknowledge and respect people’s right to free and open debate. 

Watch Tedesco’s interview here.