“They are in effect state actors and therefore First Amendment protections should apply to user-generated content.”
“When Section 230 was signed into law, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube did not exist. Today they’re dominant tech giants,” Grassley noted. “Many argue that these private companies have their own terms of service and are able to enforce them as they wish, that they’re not covered under the First Amendment. Yet these platforms are now the new public square where it’s important that all voices and viewpoints are able to be heard. With the immunities that these companies have and the importance of dialogue on their platforms, arguably they are in effect state actors and therefore First Amendment protections should apply to user-generated content.”
These companies, Grassley continued, use their monopoly power and Section 230 immunity to “censor speech and undermine the First Amendment” without the fear of competition or retribution.
“When a company has monopoly power, it no longer is constrained by normal market forces. If these platforms had competitors, consumers could choose alternatives when they disagree with terms of service or moderation policies. Right now the only choice consumers have is to take it or leave it,” Grassley explained, noting that Section 230 only contributes to this. “These companies are unaccountable to their customers, the courts, and the government. If not for their monopoly power and Section 230 immunity, these companies might not be involved in the actions and censorship we see today.”