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Mitt Romney Argues It Should Be Legal For Government To Curb “Misinformation” On Social Media

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In a recent Senate hearing, a substantial divergence of views surfaced between Senators Mitt Romney and Rand Paul, centering on the issue of whether the government should be authorized to employ Big Tech platforms to impede American citizens’ expressions. The debate was prompted by an amendment proposal from Senator Paul, coined as the Free Speech Protection Act.

Senator Paul suggested that the First Amendment’s primary objective is to curtail the government’s intrusions on free speech rather than safeguarding the utterances of state employees. He expressed his own experiences with social media censorship, outlining his frustrations with platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for their bias and removal of his content. He argued that these platforms, shielded by Section 230, possess disproportionate power, and with overt threats from the government, the balance seems disturbed.

Paul raised issues about the government’s use of threats, citing cases where big tech companies faced potential repercussions such as antitrust actions or the removal of their Section 230 liability protection.

These actions were purportedly applied as pressure tactics to make them comply with the government’s censorship demands. Consequently, Paul urged for an absolute prohibition of government interference in matters of free speech, including opinions, calling for this prohibition to be as strict as feasible.

On the contrary, Senator Romney expressed his apprehension against such a stance. Romney went as far as arguing that calling for censorship on social media platforms is a First Amendment right of government employees.

“To say that no employee of the government, from the President on down to the millions of people who work in the government, can speak with a social media company or a legacy media company and express their point of view that an article is wrong or that an avenue they’re going down is wrong, that would shut off free speech of the part of the administration and power or frankly employees that have nothing to do with one party or the other,” Romney said.

This issue is, however, that government employees were caught pressuring social media platforms to censor so-called misinformation, resulting in the platforms taking action on the speech of Americans. It was not simply about government employees expressing an opinion – they were directly calling on platforms to censor speech.

“In my view, it’s an amendment that is overly broad and hasn’t considered what’s going to happen when there’s a Republican administration that wants to argue that the media is saying crazy things about them. That makes it would make it a crime to do so,” Romney alleged. “Even the press secretary responding to a question saying, ‘No, that’s wrong. You guys have got that wrong;’ well, that would violate the law.”

The injunction that a judge imposed on the Biden Administration, did not ban government employees from communicating with social media platforms – it simply banned them from colluding to censor Americans. The ruling described the administration’s actions as resemblant of an “Orwellian Ministry Of Truth.”

Romney’s defense for the government’s right to counter wrong content generated by media companies is reminiscent of the argument that asserts the necessity of public regulation to prevent the spread of misinformation and maintain social order.

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