Twitter becomes a tool of government censorship
Alex Berenson is back on Twitter after being banned for nearly a year over Covid-19 “misinformation.” Last week the former New York Times reporter settled his lawsuit against the social-media company, which admitted error and restored his account. “The First Amendment does not apply to private companies like Twitter,” Mr. Berenson wrote last week on Substack. But because the Biden administration brought pressure to bear on Twitter, he believes he has a case that his constitutional rights were violated. He’s right.
In January 2021 we argued on these pages that tech companies should be treated as state actors under existing legal doctrines when they censor constitutionally protected speech in response to governmental threats and inducements. The Biden administration appears to have taken our warning calls as a how-to guide for effectuating political censorship through the private sector. And it’s worse than we feared.
Facts that Mr. Berenson unearthed through the discovery process confirm that the administration has been secretly asking social-media companies to shut down the accounts of specific prominent critics of administration policy.