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Google, Facebook, and other user-generated-content services have created enormous social value that enriches our lives many times an hour.
We can resolve the constitutional question via the plain meaning of the Constitution’s words.
That makes it irrelevant how many times Google and Facebook have publicly disclaimed editorial control over their databases of third-party content.
Thus, without First Amendment protection, it seems to me that the two most likely scenarios both result in the functional destruction of Google and Facebook.
I know some might cheer that outcome, but I would not.
Google and Facebook sort and prioritize the remaining third-party content using complex algorithms reflecting human-established editorial decisions, and then they publish the content to their readers.
Second, Google’s search engine and Facebook’s newsfeed frequently withdraw previously published third-party content using a combination of automated removal tools and human decisions.
Remember, if the First Amendment does not apply, regulators can impose obligations on Google and Facebook that are motivated by anti-speech, anti-technology, or even authoritarian objectives.
The cumulative effect of these newly imposed regulations would likely make Google and Facebook functionally unusable, which would also lead to a “mass exodus” of users.
Conclusion I understand the widespread suspicion and fear of the power held by internet giants like Google and Facebook.
I too am skeptical of any institution that has so much power.