…On the other hand, treating social media as a public utility is not entirely unappealing. Among certain demographics, online messaging has displaced the telephone and email as the preferred way to keep in touch with friends and family. We would not tolerate a phone company cutting off somebody’s service because of the words they used in their conversations, or because some anonymous and unaccountable mob denounced them as a Nazi. The argument that anyone who doesn’t like the behaviour of these corporations can simply use (or build) an alternative is rapidly losing its weight as the web giants proceed in lockstep to eradicate controversial content, and smaller sites that refuse to censor just get kicked off the internet altogether. Perhaps the time has come to recognise that the public square is now privately administered, and its participants need to be afforded the same First Amendment rights that protect them from censorship by the government?