So, the Op-ed piece was dishonest in several places, and this is obviously not a “first amendment” issue. But I think what people are inarticulately trying to say is twitter, etc. shutting off Trump and his supporters is a freedom of expression issue, and people confuse “the first amendment” with “freedom of expression”.
And due to the oligopoly power of a few large tech firms, there is a freedom of expression risk here.
Now, as someone pointed out, no one complains when all the big tech firms ban child pornography, and the promoters thereof. And it should be pretty non-controversial to ban incitements to violence, too. Unfortunately, elements of the US political right have been so embedded in violence and racism for the last several years that suddenly clamping down on that feels like a violation.
A year or two ago my son commented that one of the big tech firms had no trouble banning Nazis and their ilk in Germany, and did it mostly with algorithms. But they couldn’t use those algorithms in the US because they flagged too many Republican politicians. That’s… kind of problematic, don’t you think?
I’m honestly not sure what the best government action is in this case. Not because there’s a first amendment issue, but because I think there may well be a monopoly issue. And I am not a fan of a completely unfettered monopolistic marketplace.
But right now we are in the midst of a crisis where armed mobs are trying to install a fascist dictator, and willing to destroy US government property, and probably happy to kill US elected representatives, to do it. I don’t want to make some legalistic argument that’s blind to that reality. I think the chief problem with Twitter, et al, shutting off the president’s calls to violent coup are that they are too little, too late.