November 13, 2020
By Gillian Vernick
American society used to rely on the “marketplace of ideas” theory that more information was better than overly censoring content to get to the truth. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said in his prolific dissent in Abrams v. United States, the best test of the truth is reached by free trade of ideas in the competitive marketplace. Holmes’s words ring earnest and nostalgic in the era of Fake News. Can society still rely on the “marketplace of ideas” for truthful content if the marketplace is flooded with fake news and manipulative media?
While lawmakers scramble to solve the manipulated media problem often fueling viral disinformation, the federal government should authorize agencies experienced in disinformation, such as the FTC, FCC, and FEC, to provide guidelines for platforms to guide their self-regulation and create the digital infrastructure necessary to uphold democratic discourse online.