The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

What to do about Silicon Valley speech suppression

Instead of regulation, let's use the tax code


The Washington Post has published my op-ed on social media speech suppression and what to do about it.  I consider and deprecate the use of section 230 and the antitrust laws, which leads me to using the tax code to induce gatekeeper platforms to break themselves up:

What if the federal government imposed a 40 percent tax on the gross revenue of gatekeeper social media companies that have more than, say, 30 million active users in the United States? Instead of fighting antitrust authorities in the trenches for years, companies faced with such a harsh tax rate would rush to break themselves up. (And if they didn't, well, the treasury could certainly use the revenue after the bailouts of 2008-09 and 2020-21.) Efforts to avoid the tax would surely spur a proliferation of mainstream social media companies, each serving a broad audience. Some might adopt an editorial stance that leans to the left and others to the right, just as broadcast and other news media already do. But their ability to enforce ideological conformity or pursue a unified business interest would be shattered.