Conservative reporter Milo Yiannopolous appeared Friday at the White House press briefing, asking press secretary Josh Earnest about allegations that social media platforms are censoring political speech.
Yiannopolous, who accused Twitter earlier this year of removing his blue verification badge over of his conservative views, told Earnest that “it’s becoming very clear” social media platforms “are censoring and punishing conservative and libertarian points of view.”
“Is there anything the president can do to encourage Silicon Valley to remind them of the critical importance of open free speech in our society?” the Breitbart editor asked.
“Obviously part of what is built in our system is a respect for private companies to put in place their own policies,” Earnest responded. “But the president would be the first one to observe is that the success of those kind of social media … is predicated on the idea of freedom of expression.”
Yiannopolous followed up with an additional question.
“You obviously can’t enforce the First Amendment on private corporations, but there seems to be a very clear trend. My verification check was taken away for making fun of the wrong group of people,” he said. “Conservative commentators and journalists are being punished, being suspended, having their tweets deleted by Twitter. Facebook is removing criticism of immigration in Europe.”
“Are there any mechanisms that the government can use to remind these companies that they have that responsibility?” Yiannopolous asked. “Or do we just have to trust that the market is going to punish them if they don’t?”
Earnest responded that he wasn’t sure “there are any mechanisms the government can use to remind these companies that they have this responsibility,” but added that if a citizen felt his or her rights had been violated the person could “address that before a judge in a court of law.”
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