I have a new column up at The Federalist, “Google And Facebook Restrict Speech About Ireland’s Abortion Referendum.” It opens like this:
“In a 1983 referendum, Ireland overwhelmingly voted to enact the Eighth Amendment to its constitution, which protects the lives of the unborn: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
This month, there will be another vote on whether to repeal the amendment. Global tech giants Facebook and Google have been drawn into the campaign, with different approaches reflecting possibly different politics.”
While both companies likely have pro-choice leanings, Facebook chose to refuse only foreign ads (in line with their current U.S./Russia hangover), while Google is refusing all adds related to the vote. The former didn’t bother pro-lifers much; the latter very much does.
What got left out for space? Well, space tended to push me to a conclusion that’s about whether there will ever be bipartisan support for an antitrust investigation of these two companies’ dominance in online advertising. With more space, it might have been more of a piece about the way we have let institutions decline and be replaced with platforms. What we are discovering is that some platforms would like to be more active in the public square and conversely, that the elites of withering institutions would like to recruit platforms into more institutional roles.
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