MSNBC Censor Wannabe Cries Foul on Internet Freedom

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An MSNBC legal analyst and “misinformation expert” appeared worried that the unparalleled ease of communication that the modern internet allows threatens democracy. That’s why she suggested curbing the ability of regular citizens to use social media platforms in ways they see fit. 

Appearing on Studio 2, a WHYY NPR radio show, MSNBC legal analyst and University of Michigan professor Barbara McQuade lamented that there wasn’t enough government regulation of social media and accused the right of running an authoritarian playbook, leading to “the slow erosion of democratic norms.” McQuade claimed that “technology and social media have created the ability to create falsehoods and to spread them to millions of people at the push of a button.” 

McQuade also blamed a lack of government regulation for enabling the problem. “I think we have allowed the internet and social media to grow completely unchecked, and in some ways it’s been wonderful,” Mcquade argued. She blamed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 for protecting social media companies from liability. She further complained that “it has also allowed all of this anonymity online, all of these manipulative algorithms online, all of this disinformation that can be used to exploit us as we communicate with people online.”   

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The professor went on to argue in favor of yet more government regulation of Big Tech platforms, specifically algorithms: “One is to regulate algorithms… We could control the algorithms. We could prohibit algorithms designed for the purpose of generating outrage. Or we could at least require disclosure of the algorithms so that people at least know they are being manipulated.”

McQuade did not appear concerned that these regulations would at all infringe on the First Amendment. However, her past comments on the issue at the very least put her commitment to free speech into question. 

While on The Rachel Maddow Show on Feb. 26, McQuade framed the First Amendment as a liability putting the United States at a disadvantage compared to other countries. As reported by the New York Post, McQuade explained to host Rachel Maddow, “So, for example, our deep commitment to free speech in our First Amendment. It is a cherished right. It is an important right in democracy, and nobody wants to get rid of it, but it makes us vulnerable to claims [that] anything we want to do related to speech is censorship.” 

Notably, all of McQuade’s examples of misinformation being abused in the Studio 2 podcast came from the political right. She even claimed, without evidence, that former President Donald Trump and “the far-right MAGA extremists” used disinformation because “they don’t believe they can win in a fair election, so through gerrymandering and through disinformation and through voter suppression, they are willing to seize power and give up democracy.”

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on so-called hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.

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