There are those who say that censorship by private enterprises is both legally and morally acceptable. I certainly agree with that within limits. For example, I certainly agree it is legally and morally acceptable for YouTube to censor child pornography.
But I don’t agree that it is acceptable in any way for YouTube to censor content “that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election,” as its new policy statement announces.
There are many ways to make the argument in disagreement. One is to note that the Internet itself is a government-provided resource. Because YouTube exploits the resource, it is, in effect an extension of government. As an extension of government, YouTube has an obligation to promote free speech and especially to prevent the occurrence of chilling effects on the exercise of free speech rights (just as government has the same obligation under our Constitution).
More compelling in my view is the moral observation that creating categories of socially approved and socially unapproved ideas is just plain wrong. If you want a workable democracy, unapproved ideas are just as important as approved ones. If you want dialectic that generates useful results (especially in the sciences), the same is true.
But what is the remedy? We don’t want to infringe YouTube’s private property rights for the sake of protecting free speech! We don’t want to idealize the pursuit of knowledge such that, say, child pornography becomes commonplace! No, we don’t want to do those things, but we should be able to see that such things are merely consequences of a solution and not the solution itself.
The solution itself is to recognize that YouTube’s behavior is just not acceptable. That, at least, is the unavoidable first step; there can be no other. Second steps are open to discovery, but will never occur so long as people make excuses for YouTube’s bad behavior.