Last week Twitter & Facebook decided they would stifle the speech of the leader of the nation that gave them birth and allowed their owners to become billionaires many times over. We’re not of course talking about the oppressive China and Chairman Xi… No, we’re talking about the United States and President Trump. Think about that. The duly elected President of the United States is no longer able to communicate to supporters and opponents alike via the biggest microphones on the planet because of the decision of two unelected billionaires, Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg.
This is a watershed moment in modern American history. As a virulent capitalist I believe that private businesses should be allowed to do what they want, and that includes Twitter and Facebook and Apple and Google et al. As long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others. This is particularly true as it relates to the 1st Amendment. The Amendments limit the actions of government, not private industry. As such, they should be exempt…
Except, however, when they shouldn’t be. In 1996 Congress passed the Communications Decency Act which included this language in Section 230: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Publishers exercise editorial control over what they publish, which is why if the New York Times printed “John Smith is a bank robber” John Smith could sue for defamation, and if he proved the statement was false, he could be awarded damages. Indeed, 230 was written specifically to give Internet firms protection from such circumstances. It was the result of an early ISP, Prodigy, being sued for defamation by Jordan Balfor – the guy Leo DeCaprio made famous in “The Wolf of Wall Street” – after someone on a Prodigy-run message board had accused Stratton Oakmont of fraud.
The author of the legislation, then Washington Rep. Ron Wyden, was concerned that if Internet companies were treated as publishers they would be sued into oblivion, killing the baby of the Internet in its crib. If a tech company was financially liable every time an Internet troll called someone a liar or a Nazi or claimed Jim Jones was cheating on his wife we’d never have Facebook or Twitter or YouTube or Yelp or customer reviews on Amazon or doctor reviews on Healthgrades.com or memes on Instagram or virtually anything involving user input.
But we do have Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and Amazon and Apple. Using the shield of 230 these companies grew not only to become the biggest and most valuable companies on the planet, but they also became the most powerful companies in the everyday lives of Americans as it relates to free speech and the exchange of ideas. Americans barely read newspapers anymore. In 1995 the year before 230 was written, 23% of Americans read a newspaper on a daily basis. Today that number stands at 8.3%. In 1995 0% of Americans used Facebook or YouTube or Twitter on a daily basis… because they didn’t exist. Today 74% of Americans use Facebook every day, 51% use YouTube and 42% use Twitter. Overall in 2019 Americans spent an average of 395 minutes on the Internet verses 11 minutes reading newspapers. They are no longer “as the publisher” they are publishers.
Essentially, social media has become the du jour American town square of the 21st century. That is where we get our information, where we exchange ideas and where we interact with one another. And they became that because of 230, based on the premise that they did not exercise editorial control.
But now today, when they have become the modern equivalent of the town square they’ve decided they do indeed have editorial control over their platforms. They most certainly have that right, but their choosing to do so should remove from them the shield of 230.
Of course all of this comes down to the 1st Amendment and the right of Americans to speak out without censorship or coercion by the government. But Twitter and Facebook aren’t the government you say. That’s true. But they have become so ubiquitous, so dominating, so central to an American’s freedom of speech that they are actually more powerful than the government. Not sure about that? Take a look at Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump where President Trump tried to block from following him on Twitter accounts with whom he disagreed. In forcing Trump to unblock the unwanted followers the court said Trump’s account bears “all the trappings of an official, state-run account” and is “one of the White House’s main vehicles for conducting official business.”
So, if these social media giants have become the modern town square for the exchange of American ideas, if they are violating the spirit of the law that provided them with the ability to successfully become such, and if a federal appeals court agrees that their platform is “one of the White House’s main vehicles for conducting official business.” they should no longer have the protections 230 accorded. They should be treated as the publishers they have willingly become and should be at risk for all the liabilities, financial and otherwise that come with that.
That does not necessarily mean that 230 should be eliminated. On the contrary. Its protections can and do function as intended, allowing small online firms to give users platforms to exchange ideas without fear of being financially ruined because of a content that someone doesn’t agree with.
But for those tech companies who violate the premise of lack of control of editorial content 230 should no longer apply. They could of course step back and adhere to the idea of not exercising editorial control, but they won’t. It’s no longer about building a successful company or getting rich for Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg. They both have that in spades. No, now it’s about power, and their power to remake America (for now) into what they think it should look like. They want Donald Trump on their platforms not because of what he says or who he is. They want Donald Trump off their platforms because his words resonate with so many regular, blue collar Americans, because he inspires patriotism in America and because he wants Americans to be free of the yoke of government control over virtually every aspect of their lives.
At the end of the day, it’s not Donald Trump they fear. It’s freedom of thought. It’s freedom of expression. It’s ideas they can’t control that they fear. And most of all, it’s you and your desire to live your life as you see fit. In a free market they’re welcome to go out and build any kind of platform they want and use editorial control to stifle as much speech on it as they wish. But they can’t do that behind a government provided shield of protection. It’s one or the other. They can’t have it both ways.
We’ve already seen the kind of damage such information control can do to our social cohesion and our political process. Do we need to wait until America is plunged into a full scale civil war before we realize that allowing a tiny minority of tech oligarchs to control our speech forums is probably not conducive to a free society?
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Facebook and Twitter are essential components of Zhou Bai-Den and his new Oligarchy. There will be one opinion: that of the Government. There will be no dissent. Any dissent will not see the light of day. Zuckerberg and Dorsey are under the control of their Red Chinese masters. They dare not disagree, under penalty of death.
All means of communication will be censored. Anyone expressing any opinion other than that which is officially approved will be quashed. All information will be scanned by snoopers, and the full force of law used against malefactors.
Better learn how to send messages encrypted in the pixels of a picture. Or agree to use RSA to communicate. Jail awaits.
Following hot on the heels of a social media that only allows one, the official, opinion, the gov’t over reach can accelerate.
Like, for instance, white men in our National Guard are being VETTED by the Biden team, and people of color are replacing them from DC and Porto Rico!
Another for instance: under President Trump walls would never work and drones ought to be used at our border, but now, for Biden, a 14 foot tall wall will encircle our Capitol buildings permanently!
Social media outlets have been calling for a boycott of the My Pillow products after learning that founder, Mike Lindell was supporting President Trump, Right Side Broadcasting and Stop the Steal.
So, who listens to social media?
Bed, Bath and Beyond as well as Wayfare.com and Kohls.
If these sales giants can destroy Mike Lindell, they’ll have no problem destroying any of the little people.
As for HOW to defang social media moguls, how was it done before?
Yes, look to history.
There were giants in business over 100 years ago who were destroyed.
First they were demonized as “robber barons.”
Then their nasty ways were exposed by Upton Sinclair in The Jungle, by so-called “yellow” journalists like Wm Randolf Hurst, The Pit: A Story of Chicago, by Frank Norris and many others.
Today’s barons of social media also have agendas.
They desire huge population shrinkage.
They desire more money and power.
They desire an equal place at the table with China’s commie leader.
They desire a slave wage for foreign manufacturing and a low paying service economy for the USA while they become even richer and more physically isolated on islands and mountain tops.
They seek to popularize eating grubs, insects and worms for us while they enjoy steaks, shellfish and other delicacies.
It was too late when the radical left wing of the GOP voted to override Don’s veto!
The UNIPARTY has subtly pushed to send conservatives to Auschwitz for 31 years. The NDAA vote has emboldened the UNIPARTY. They are now openly admitting what they have been saying behind closed doors.
Before too long we’ll be subjected to the “news” like in N. Korea. Grampa Grope scores 10 touchdowns in Super Bowl! Beijing Biden cures dementia! Kamala Gives Virgin Birth, Saves The World! Questioning State-speak will be forbidden, punishable by reeducation… for life.
In a month, Biden will cure COVID19 and deaths by heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes surge. Any comments to the contrary will be taken down and the author banned from everything, fired from their jobs and evicted from their homes.
Trump gets permanently banned for tweeting for his supporters to be peaceful. Alec Baldwin doesn’t get banned, though.
But, remember… they only ban people to promote peace and safety.
For failure to survive, it needs to be protected and that’s what the media, including Big Tech, have been doing.
Make the Exhaulted Grand Poo Bah for Twitter and Facebook read the U.S. Constitution the same gose for all Politics running for office and bring back teaching about what the Constitution realy means
Totally agree, Vince, but the defense around FB and Twitter will only be hardened.
@DrJohn: As long as the donations roll into congress the script wont change
@Deplorable Me: #4
He’s too late. COVID19 has already cured heart disease, cancer, stroke, the flu, and diabetes.
Deaths from those have dropped to near zero since the advent of COVID19.
One of these tweets is allowed, the other got the user banned.
The main difference is 4 years and the PARTY of the tweeters.
One was Nancy Pelosi, the other Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit.
@Nan G: Yeah… it’s just about “safety”.
But how do you limit the big guys who are abusing their position and not affect the little guys who are not? Some sort of test, but what would that look like. I am all for removing 230 protection for the abusers but I don’t see how we will manage it as Congress uses the hammer and nail approach.
@Old guy: It really doesn’t matter until someone other than corrupt anti-American Democrats are in charge. Nothing will happen to those censoring free speech as long as that speech is opposition speech.