The Atlantic

A Lesson From 1930s Germany: Beware State Control of Social Media

Regulators should think carefully about the fallout from well-intentioned new rules and avoid the mistakes of the past.
Source: William Gottlieb / Corbis via Getty

“Our way of taking power and using it would have been inconceivable without the radio and the airplane,” Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels claimed in August 1933.

Such statements are often cited—the head of Disney, Bob Iger, recently said that Adolf Hitler would have loved social media—but frequently misinterpreted. Goebbels was not saying that the Nazis had used both new technologies, the airplane and the radio, to come to power. Rather, the airplane helped the Nazis take power. Radio helped them keep it.

The , and in particular how it was regulated in interwar Germany, is more relevant than ever: Five years ago, the question was we would regulate social media. Now the questions are and we will regulate them. As politicians and regulators in places

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