Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. clearly identified the problem of social media censorship but has a potentially dangerous solution.
Kennedy, who is running for Democratic presidential nomination, slammed Big Tech censorship while appearing on actor and show host Russell Brand’s podcast. “There has never been a time in history when the people who were censoring free speech” were “good guys,” he told Brand, arguing later that once free speech is violated, all other rights will follow. But he also announced his plan to launch a government-owned social media platform if he cannot otherwise end censorship.
“RFK is coming up with creative solutions to a terrible problem,” said VP of MRC Free Speech America Dan Schneider. “We appreciate the effort, but, of course, government controlling the platforms for speech will always be taken over by the left.”
“If the government has to start its own [platform] under some rubric that is guaranteed to be free of censorship, then I will do that,” Kennedy said. It might be a suggestion made with the best intentions, but how can Americans be certain that government won’t ever censor free speech, especially with its previous censorship record?
RFK Jr. did have proposals to appeal to free speech advocates. “As soon as I get in office, I’m gonna issue a series of executive orders and national security orders ordering government agencies and government officials — any federal government employee — to, to refrain from any kind of participation in any censorship,” he insisted. He also said government power to censor always “is going to be abused.”
Yet he still supports coordination between Big Tech executives and the government, a potentially dangerous liaison. “I’m going to bring the Big Tech titans, the big CEOs into a meeting in the White House and I’m gonna have an all-day or two-day or three-day seminar if we have to, to figure out… how they’re going to continue to run their sites,” Kennedy said. He added that, if tech companies do not cooperate to end censorship, he “would consider making them common carriers where it’s illegal to censor.”
Kennedy Jr. did tell Brand he preferred to leave social media as private companies, though he urged them to recognize “they are now the public square.” Likewise, Twitter owner Elon Musk used the same language about Twitter. “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” Musk said in May 2022.
Kennedy Jr.’s plan for government to be policeman for social media is too risky for free speech, especially since he has repeatedly emphasized his intention to seek advice from anti-free speech Big Tech executives and given his recent antagonism to a pro-freedom group. Kennedy publicly critiqued parental rights group Moms for Liberty and refused to appear at their highly acclaimed conference last week because the group opposed LGBTQ+ propaganda in schools.
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