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‘Terrible mistake’ if Facebook allows Trump back on platform

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Harvard Constitutional Law Professor Larry Tribe joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to break down social media banning Donald Trump from using their platforms.

Video Transcript

LARRY TRIBE: I think it's a dangerous idea because it creates the illusion of independence where there is no independence. That's why I've joined with Shoshana Zuboff and Carol Cadwalladr and Roger McNamee and a number of others in what we call the real face oversight-- the Facebook Oversight Board, sort of looking at their cases from a distance and with full independence. I mean, I wouldn't be surprised if they held that it was wrong to kick Trump off of Facebook because Facebook is sufficiently like the government, as a public entity, that they really needed-- need to put Trump back. I think that would be a terrible mistake.

It seems to me that social media platforms, however powerful-- like Facebook, like Twitter-- have, to the extent that they exercise in editorial discretion, have the right, and to some extent, the social obligation, the moral obligation, to take sources of violent incitement and public falsification off of their platforms. I also think that some of them, like Facebook, have become so powerful that they're like multi-governments in themselves and that we really need to rethink the way in which we approach the question of regulating them. They do have First Amendment rights. And therefore, I wouldn't favor sort of general government oversight of their editorial and content decisions.

On the other hand, they are so powerful that their ability-- not in the case of Trump, who has plenty of access to the public anyway-- but their ability to basically choke individuals and organizations off of access to the public imagination and sort of public information sphere is just too great for any one company to have. And I don't think just breaking them up, although that might not be a bad idea, would be enough. I think we need to rethink Section 230, the immunity provision. I think the time is ripe for, really, a full reconsideration of the intersection between the First Amendment and powerful, ostensibly private social media.