Dick Morris: Internet Regulation Sabotages the First Amendment


I used to be for internet regulation until I got regulated.

Before, government or private screening seemed a reasonable way to limit terrorist recruiting, fundraising and proselytizing. The prospect of ISIS openly calling for jihad and collecting volunteer terrorists online seemed a bit frightening.

Then, I began to get regulated. Several times each week, back then — in 2016-17, I sent out a video on Facebook commenting on political affairs. It was just like the emailed videos it is my free-speech joy and pleasure to send out to 300,000 people each day, except that the distribution was not by email but via Facebook postings. I called the series “Deep Six The Deep State.”

It was wildly successful. I had tapped into a vein! My very first video was a rebuttal of Bill Clinton’s highly selective biography of Hillary delivered at the 2016 Democratic convention. I explained what he had left out of his worshipful presentation. The video received 11.6 million views.

Week after week, I packed them in, reaching a quarter of a million people each time.

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When the internet censor’s hammer came down, I didn’t even notice. I certainly never received any notification. Suddenly, my average number of viewers dropped from 90,000 to 25,000 and I never again broke the 100,000 mark with a single video.

How did the folks who control Facebook do it? I have no idea. They must have manipulated their algorithms to screen out my readers. Hundreds of thousands of those who had signed on to be “friends” never got my videos again on their Facebook pages.

Why they did it was obvious: They wanted to muzzle conservative commentary and limit its distribution. Others, like The Western Journal and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, reported identical experiences. Facebook denied any acts of censorship.

Just this month, Senior Director Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler of the Counter Extremism Project explained why internet regulation is needed in a statement following the Internet Governance Forum 2019:

“It is good to see that an increasing number of public actors realise that self-regulation is not sufficient to counter the wider phenomenon of hate speech online. As stressed in the discussions at the Internet Governance Forum, tech companies have not been taking their responsibility seriously. They have even declared hateful content to not be in breach of their platforms’ community standards. The Internet today unfortunately facilitates the dissemination of hateful and extremist content. Legislation on the national and European levels is an important step in our fight against such harmful content online.”

Now that I — like a loving dolphin — have been swept up in a fishing net with the likes of online child pornographers and ISIS terrorists, the case for regulation is less appealing. A lot less.

Indeed, I cannot think of anything more terrorists could do to undermine our democracy than to publish so much garbage online that they encourage the regulators to crack down.

Their efforts would be like Hitler’s Reichstag Fire in 1933 that provided his justification for assuming total power in Germany. The cure is infinitely worse than the disease.

I personally doubt that the move against me and other bloggers even flowed from the executive suites at Facebook. The decision could have as easily come from left-wing programmers determined to use their technological skill to promote their naive views.

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Conservative thinking might be held down by massive iron chains in our left-dominated world. But it could be as easily constrained by the work of modern-day Lilliputians of the sort featured by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels.

It doesn’t take much to suppress free speech.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Dick Morris is a former adviser to President Bill Clinton as well as a political author, pollster and consultant. His most recent book, "50 Shades of Politics," was written with his wife, Eileen McGann.