I’m a libertarian because I believe the libertarian answer to most political problems is usually the best one. By no means do I believe the libertarian solution is always best with no exceptions.
Twitter has long been one of those exceptions.
I believe in free and robust speech. Twitter has increasingly not. I believe in private companies doing what they want within the bounds of the law. Twitter and its establishment defenders have long contended that as a private company it has the right to censor news stories, former presidents and any basic political speech that the platform deems “misinformation.”
This is a horrible and un-American policy. But as a private entity, they were correct – suppressing any speech they wanted to was their right.
Many on the Right have called for repealing Section 230, an early internet law that shielded major platforms from liability. Many on the Left have called for the same thing, claiming that Twitter and other social media platforms don’t censor ENOUGH and should be held liable for the current speech they do allow.
What to do with an increasingly censorious social media has long been a problem that neither the pro-government nationalist or limited government libertarian factions on the Right have had a good answer to.
In April 2021, I wrote at the Washington Examiner, “If too many libertarians seem to deny that ‘cancel culture’ exists and insist that social media monopolies should be able to continue rejecting the views of the 75 million voters who supported Trump, nationalists deny that the government action they are calling for could end up putting major means of communication in the hands of political adversaries. That is to say, adversaries who are no better than the current oligarchs and could even be worse.”
I added, “I am a libertarian conservative who has the most sympathy for the pure free market answer, but I can no longer ignore the reality of Big Tech wanting to cancel the views of people who think like I do. There is no ideal solution to this problem. Though many do, all libertarians should at least admit that there is a problem. Nationalists should admit their prescriptions might lead to something worse.”
Now, Elon Musk has given us a solution – a purely libertarian one.
I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2022
The richest man in the world bought Twitter and has vowed to restore free speech to this private platform. If he fails to live up to this promise, we will face the same dilemma as before where private platforms that still operate as vast public squares are controlled by a censorious few.
So what do we have to lose?
We don’t want the Biden administration or a possible second Trump administration regulating our speech. Last week, President Barack Obama said that the federal government must begin “regulating” private social media companies.
Obama is wrong to want to get the government involved. Those who wanted to repeal Section 230 were wrong for the same reason. Twitter’s old owners were wrong to censor in the first place.
And Elon Musk might end up being wrong at some point too, but given his stated free speech goal and every other factor involved, we’ll take our chances on the guy who just used the ultimate libertarian solution to save Twitter.
Free speech for all is the goal. If the government won’t protect it, hopefully the market will.