Under the fairness doctrine equal time and balance were required of controversial issues until the FCC removed it in 1987. This was different from the equal time rule that affected coverage of candidates which remains in effect. The equal time rule only applies to the major parties and news coverage.
Trump is no longer a candidate and Facebook is not a news organization so neither doctrine applies. The Section 230 rule applied to internet companies and removed any liability for content from the internet access providers. Meant to provide wide access to ideas, it is now being sidestepped to silence ideas.
It is understandable that some content should be prohibited. Overt violence (snuff videos), sexual abuse, gross and obscene language and content should be censored especially given the young people’s access to the internet.
But once we step beyond the most base obscenities and descend into political hate speech and the platforms become arbiters of the truth, we are in a different territory, and the right to ban access becomes a blunt political instrument.
You may disagree with Trump’s election claims. Numerous sources from the Wall Street Journal, National Review and Erick Erickson’s substack have taken sharp exception to Trump’s claims of a stolen election and these are conservative sources. Allowing Trump a platform does not make his claims true and it allows for open refutation. The real issue is that these sources do not trust their customers to make informed conclusions, or choices that support a preferred narrative.
Social media platforms banned the New York Post story on Hunter Biden’s laptop and it proved to be true. They banned the stories on the origins of Covid-19 and it appears the banned information may be true.
HBO had no problems with John Oliver’s anti- Israel screed yet YouTube banned a video that methodically took exception to it.
Social media suffers from the same problem as other media; lack of intellectual diversity. When these organizations have a staff that overwhelmingly follows a similar narrative and political view it is easy to think that the truth is obvious, when it is often far more complicated.
When these sources set themselves up as arbiters of the truth and prove unworthy to the task they lose credibility, sending viewers to other sources that may be even less reliable.
No matter how you feel about Trump it is hard to view his content as a social threat that should be banned. By removing his content we also remove the means to refute it. You do not persuade someone by silencing them. A reaction to the cancel culture may have led to his election in 2016. The ultimate safe space proved to be the voting booth.
The media would be better to trust their users than to damage their own credibility. The rules should be clear and simple about what is allowed and should be followed strictly regardless of content. No one who is suspended should be surprised and a suspension should not be judged by a board that will only likely reflect an organization’s internal bias.