Publisher vs. Platform
A publisher is a company that controls what information is produced using its publication. A platform is a vehicle, generally on the Internet, which can be used by the general public and on which information is not filtered or controlled. Online platforms as they currently exist, are granted this protection as a "platform" instead of as "publisher" through CDA 230.
YouTube is infamous for being a publisher masquerading as a platform. It claims to only censor bigotry, nudity/sexuality, violent content, etc., but it also censors conservatives and others who do not conform to political correctness.
The debate over the differences between a publisher and a platform has reached the forefront of political conversation amid Prager University's lawsuit against YouTube, and the "Adpocalypse" instigated on YouTube by now-former Vox Media "journalist" wannabe and beta male Carlos Maza as part of his vendetta against comedian Steven Crowder.
Despite the masses of evidence proving the existence of Big Tech censorship of conservatives, "conservative" Hunter Avallone disbelieves this fact. In contrast, even socialist Democrat Elizabeth Warren has pledged to "break up Big Tech" (though there are doubts as to her sincerity and her methods).
The discussion regarding the differences between a publisher and a platform again reached the forefront of political conversation when Twitter, as many leftists and Democrats had been advocating for a long time and in truly Orwellian fashion, finally began to censor President Donald Trump's tweets, using snide "fact-checking," citing CNN, MSNBC, and The Washington Post, establishment leftist echo chambers. In response to this, President Trump drafted an Executive Order forcing Big Tech companies like Twitter and Facebook to decide whether they are platforms or publishers. The text of the Executive Order can be found here. It states: "When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree,... [t]hey cease functioning as passive bulletin boards [platforms], and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators [publishers]." Not surprisingly, Twitter, Facebook, other liberal social media companies and their supporters have reacted in extremely negative fashion over the Executive Order, with Twitter continuing to openly tamper with Trump's tweets in defiance of the Executive Order by actually hiding visibility of the content of one tweet while hypocritically continuing to allow openly violent leftist tweets to remain intact, while Facebook made unfounded claims that the Executive Order would "restrict speech online", despite the order having the opposite intent. PragerU was censored on Facebook around the time that Trump issued the Executive Order. A PragerU post was labelled "misinformation," exactly like what Twitter did to Trump. Michael Knowles of The Daily Wire, who has been banned by Fox News and was censored by Twitter around the 2016 election, praised Trump's actions against Twitter.
This issue came to its absolute peak in the first month of 2021. As Michael Knowles details in his book Speechless:
|“||On January 7, 2021, the world's most popular social network de-platformed the president of the United States....Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg...also suspended the president from Instagram....When Twitter stripped the president of his personal account, Trump took to his official White House handle (@POTUS) to protest the company's decision....Twitter had claimed to be a neutral technology platform for the purpose of legal protection but behaved like a publisher when it censored politically incorrect views. Trump noted that under the guise of free speech Twitter had established a rigid system for the enforcement of leftist orthodoxy. Within minutes the platform banned his presidential account as well. Trump next took to his campaign account, which soon met the same fate....Google [banned Parler] from its app store, effectively prohibiting access to Parler on the 2.5 billion active Android devices in the world. Apple soon followed suit...Ironically, the tech giant insisted on holding Parler to the very standard Apple itself sought to evade by claiming Section 230 protections. The next day, Apple booted Parler from its App Store, relegating users to accessing the platform through traditional web browsers. Even that accommodation disappeared the following day, when Amazon announced that it would withdraw Parler's web hosting....The website was offline within a day.||”|
Knowles proposes that these brazen abuses of power by Big Tech were preventable: "Had conservative politicians pursued sensible regulation of Big Tech over the course of Trump's presidency, perhaps they could have staved off the great social media purge a while longer. Republican legislators might have stripped the technology giants of their Section 230 protections during their two years of unified government. Even after Democrats took back the House of Representatives, the Trump administration might have pushed to break up the corporations through the Department of Justice and existing antitrust law." Knowles claims, "the marriage of right-wing permissiveness and left-wing decadence did not give birth to an idyllic era of "free speech" from the ruins of the old standards. Instead, it simply outsourced the setting of standards to a handful of unaccountable radicals in Silicon Valley," and then goes on to point out that, "[t]he de-platforming of the president surprised and worried even some prominent liberals," such as The New York Times' Kevin Roose and the ACLU.
- No Law Can Ban White Supremacy From the Internet, "Section 230 also protects platforms from being considered “publishers” should any try to moderate or remove content published by users."
- Twitter censors Trump while countless violent tweets remain active at WorldNetDaily
- Twitter Censors Trump Minneapolis Tweet, Accuses Him of "Glorifying Violence" at Breitbart News Network
- Facebook Slams Trump’s Executive Order, Claims It Will ‘Restrict More Speech’ Online at Breitbart News Network
- Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds by Michael Knowles ISBN 9781684510825