Volokh: Not Parler’s Job To Block Bad People and Police Viewpoints

Eugene Volokh on why it’s not Parler’s job to block bad people and police viewpoints :

“Some people complain that Parler doesn’t do enough to block bad people who use their service, whether to spread falsehoods or evil ideas or plans for criminal conduct. But I’m skeptical that this should be Parler’s job.

“The post office doesn’t stop mailings by print magazine publishers because their magazines contain evil ideas or fake news. (They do investigate some mail frauds, but that’s a fairly narrow category, and in any event they do this using governmental law enforcement procedures.)

“Telephone companies (landline or cellular) don’t cancel the KKK’s phone number, or shut down phone service or text messaging service to people whom someone accuses of planning riots. And that’s not just a matter of privacy: They don’t do this even when the contents of the magazine are well known, or the KKK publicly announces that some phone number is its recruitment line. I think on balance we’re better off when the post office and phone companies aren’t policing the viewpoints or factual assertions their customers express.

“Now the post office is generally under a First Amendment obligation not to restrict our mailings (unless our speech has been found to be constitutionally unprotected, generally in some governmental proceeding). Telephone companies are likewise common carriers, who generally are legally barred from canceling service because they don’t like what their customers are saying. Parler does have the legal right to police the content of speech that uses their services, just as Twitter has that right.

“But I don’t think it has a moral obligation to do so (just as I don’t think Google has a moral obligation to cut off Gmail accounts of people who send messages to friends that someone reports as “misleading” or “defaming,” which technically violates Google Terms of Service, or Microsoft has a moral obligation to cut off Outlook accounts of people who “communicat[e] hate speech” or “advocat[e] violence against others”). I think it can reasonably choose to generally leave most content judgments to their users, and enforcement of most laws to law enforcement—just as the legal system has chosen to impose that approach on the post office and phone companies.” [Why I’m Happy That We’re on Parler” at Reason’s The Volokh Conspiracy]

Related: