How Social Media Stifles Free Speech

Authored by Jeff Trag via The Gatestone Institute,

  • Even more problematic is that those platforms are free to delete the pages and posts of users they deem to have violated whatever they decide are "community standards." This includes judging content supportive of, for example, restricting migration in Europe.
  • Facebook, for example, also often permits real hate speech while banning websites that expose this hate speech.
  • Ultimately, the only way to keep the United States safe is by protecting its citizens' ability to discuss ideas that without fear. If we lose our freedom of expression on the internet, we lose our democracy.

One of the greatest contemporary battles for individual liberty and freedom of the press is being conducted in cyber space.

Today, political, journalistic and corporate elites are in the process of trying to control, and even rewrite, "story lines" of history and current events with which they might disagree, and that they see slipping through their fingers.

It is a form of censorship akin to banning the printing press or preventing open debate in the literal and proverbial public square.

Facebook, for example, also often permits real hate speech while banning websites that expose this hate speech.

There are, however, constitutional and legal measures that can and should be taken to protect Americans from having their right to express themselves as they wish – without causing harm to public safety or engaging in illegal activity -- violated every time they log in to their social media accounts.

New laws need to be codified to prevent what have become virtual utilities such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube from steering debate in a particular ideological direction.

One argument against holding these social media giants accountable is that they are private companies, and that consumers can simply stop using them.

This claim is disingenuous, however: these companies have an effective monopoly on expression in the international public sphere. Although people are ostensibly free not to use Facebook or Twitter, there are no other comparable alternative platforms at their disposal.

Even more problematic is that those platforms are free to delete the pages and posts of users they deem to have violated whatever they decide are "community standards." This includes judging content supportive of, for example, restricting migration in Europe.

No one should own the public square, least of all social media, which is merely the vehicle for transporting members of that public to that square. Any attempt by social media companies to curtail the people's right to access lawful information should be penalized.

Congress, therefore, might pass legislation specifically adapted to this new arena.

Ultimately, the only way to keep the United States safe is by protecting its citizens' ability to discuss ideas without fear. If we lose our freedom of expression on the internet, we lose our democracy.

As U.S. founding father Thomas Jefferson said of the First Amendment: "Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."

Comments

Thom Paine Fri, 07/14/2017 - 03:38 Permalink

The internet is still an open market. If one venue starts censoring, then people will eventually migrate to somewhere else.  They could end up shooting themselves in the foot.

A_Huxley Thom Paine Fri, 07/14/2017 - 04:47 Permalink

Once nations in the EU started to block accounts and report users?New services hosted in the USA will open up supporting different languages and allow people to keep talking.VPN over to the USA and keep talking about reality in the EU.Social media in the EU will only be trusted to look at goverment services or for shopping.    

In reply to by Thom Paine

Andre Fri, 07/14/2017 - 03:45 Permalink

Here's an issue:The US has a First Amendment. Nobody else does. As an example, Germany goes nuts when somebody call out Israel for its treatment of Palestine - or Merkel for importing savage rapefugees. Germany sues Youtube/Google or whoever fro violating their laws.Given the nature of the internet, how can you have free speech without placing corporations at risk from lawsuits from other state actors?

Ghordius Andre Fri, 07/14/2017 - 04:23 Permalink

"The US has a First Amendment. Nobody else does."it's the first amendment (to a constitution) that has been adopted in 1791it's not as if nobody else has a constitution. specifically, the 1st bundles a number of Freedoms:Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of petitionand each and every one of those freedoms are subject to interpretation. then, usually, a freedom gone "wild" infringes other freedoms, of other peopleand every country that does enshrine those freedoms has a different interpretation on each one of them, a national interpretationFrance, for example, is more secular then most. so they have more emphasis on religion being a private, not a public affairGermany, other example, restricts more speech then most. with more emphasis on restricting violence, in it's form of incitement to violenceChina, interestingly, has a freedom of petition. it goes back to a custom from imperial times, it's not codified but existing and is used(meanwhile, I reject the idea that the Gatestone Institute has the moral high ground to invoke "freedom of the press" in this righteous way. it is more of a thing to be barely tolerated, being so full of constructed, false and disingenuos propaganda of the most warmongering sort)note one concept that is not clearly defined as such but still exists, in it's essence, in the "US Bill of Rights": equalityin it's simplest, it's "we are equal in front of the law, in front of a court"have you ever seen the allegorical depiction of Justice... wearing a blindfold?it comes from the Middle Ages, when small walled cities explained, by that, that their courts would not make a difference, in front of justice, between the strongman Baron outside the walls and the citizen inside the walls: justice is equal and non partial to allmeaning that the Baron killing for fun inside the walls of the city would be treated in the same way as even the lowest of the beggarsequality, in this view, means stripping the individual from his affiliations. a bit like saying: no, our (blindfolded) Justice does not care or take in account if you are Nobility, or Christian, or Jew, or Muslim, or rich, or poor, or whateveryou'll be judged for your individual actions, and your individual actions will not be used as a reason to persecute the groups to which you belong

In reply to by Andre

Ghordius Andre Fri, 07/14/2017 - 05:01 Permalink

back to the article: "Social media stifles free speech"ehm... the biggest problem in all media, since a decade, is not thisthe biggest problem is that on the internets, there are plenty of people that get only one version, published and re-published among networks of "news"you could spend your whole life, nowadays, reading the views of one faction onlythis leads to hyperpartisanship, a phenomenon that is progressing at it's worst in the UScollateral damage: the loss of... national consensusyou can't have a polity which does not even agree on a fundament of shared, commonly agreed facts on which to base the national discussion, and so the national narrativeyes, that's me, Ghordius, painting a frightening picture of a nation that does not even agree "where north is supposed to be"I'm sure there are many here that might counter with "hey, that is normal, in the US"perhaps, but I see the trend exceeding the usual bounds, and this might lead to extremes

In reply to by Andre

Andre Ghordius Fri, 07/14/2017 - 08:24 Permalink

Actually you hit one of the biggest issues I have with the digital age, and near dead center at that.The ability to control content is a major concern I have had for some time. If I have a reference BOOK, it's mine. I can read it I can loan it to somebody, but it has a very short reach.That said, it does not and, short of destruction, cannot change. I can and have read a book published in 1637.The internet has great reach, but no permanence. Anybody with the will and the access can alter the substance of a reference piece in an instant, changing conclusions, data, the whole idea of the piece. And it will almost certainly not be noticed.One EMP blast or whatever, and we are back to the Dark Ages. The loss of knowledge, the loss of history both public and personal, would be devastating.While I appreciate the convenience and things like the ability to talk to you and others, I fear there is a price we are yet to pay for it.

In reply to by Ghordius

lenz3099 Fri, 07/14/2017 - 03:59 Permalink

Fucking Twitter should be nationalized and made public to so we can have real freedom of speech. I'm so fucking pissed right now i would punch all of twitter in in the face if i saw them. After years of ignoring all that fruity social media garbage i finnally get sucked in and get a twitter account and on day 2 i get my fucking account locked....for tweeting and they call me a bot....i didnt even cuss, i just made fun of chuck todd and some random liberals who said dumb shit. they just said my shit looked automated cuz i was tweeting and shit. They want my phone number. F that i only give that out to people i like. Seriously we need to protest twitter cuz thats bullshit.   psyeah that was today, and then i read your article and it made me want to choke a pidgeon. 

rejected Fireman Fri, 07/14/2017 - 08:36 Permalink

Had you read the article you would have found the author 'loved' his 'smart' phone,,, you see he just uses it in moderation which makes him different.Had a co-worker tell me "I can't live without my smartphone"  Another co-worker told me "I love my facebook".Corpgovs education along with these machines are reducing human intelligence to that of an Amoeba. 

In reply to by Fireman

Dwarsligger Fri, 07/14/2017 - 04:59 Permalink

Meanwhile, so-called disruptive agents can use social media to foment upheaval on a grand scale. Most people think of George Soros in this regard, but the EU has made this technique into a fine art. Neelie Kroes and Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg developed their 'No Disconnect' strategy, supposedly to help dissidents in oppressive regimes. But zu Guttenberg subsequently boasted about using their tools to overthrow governments.

Disruption Through Social Media
http://globalcitizennews.blogspot.nl/2017/07/reading-over-my-shoulder-d…

bluez Dwarsligger Fri, 07/14/2017 - 07:10 Permalink

On Zero Hedge, you largely have a sort of "alt-right" perspective, which looks like kind of a blend of paleo-conservative and libertarian ideation. Supposedly there is a "progressive" perspective, and these ideations are in a sort of "state of contention". Both sides look at each other and observe that the other side is trapped in the Matrix, stuck in a hopeless beehive consciousness, and in fact this is the truth.I came from the "progressive" side but this makes not a whit of difference, really. Obviously I did not become a so-called "neo-liberal". My goal was to escape from the Matrix, to become a sort of global mutineer. For this one might well need mushrooms. I do not set myself apart from the masses who are trapped in a string of cathexes of investment in illusory ideals. Most of the time I am working within the world of my own hopeless illusions.Now please allow me to shine a light upon the "Global Citizen" movement mentioned above. It is in fact an ostensible anti-conspiracy movement that is itself a deep conspiracy. The link was provided:http://globalcitizennews.blogspot.nl/2017/07/reading-over-my-shoulder-d… are they really about?:{{And the banks have their version: A Blueprint for Digital Identity - the Role of Financial Institutions in Building Digital Identity.{{Extraordinary developments. Finally, there remains one question: who can unite all these diverging interests and efforts? Who is able to curry enough favour and trust to be accepted as the Lord Protector and Patron of all Global Citizens? Perhaps that is the reason why Pope Francis has shown such an interest in the digital global identity project.}}http://globalcitizennews.blogspot.nl/2017/02/the-race-is-on-new-digital… scroll down to the bright yellow box where it says:{{Digital identity offers significant benefits.}}And who are their partners?:https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/partners/Clearly they are not a "grass roots" organization!

In reply to by Dwarsligger

venturen bluez Fri, 07/14/2017 - 08:32 Permalink

I would comment on NYT, WAPO, CNN....but they won't let you or ban you. Here at ZH you can say and defend what you want. Facebook has banned 4 of my accounts...I don't swear or insult....but if you aren't liberal...YOU GET BANNED! These are community speech platforms and it should be ILLEGAL for them to ban all non-liberal speech!

In reply to by bluez

bluez venturen Fri, 07/14/2017 - 09:04 Permalink

Maybe 15 years ago I had a very dark experience with PayPal, unbelievable darkness, and had to close my bank account to extricate myself. Since that disaster, I have been absolutely paranoid about any Internet gimmicks. No Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, etc. for me.I use a super-obscure operating system and Firefox, with so many lockdown addons that I don't even need an ad blocker. If you know how many things "phone home" from a website such as this one you are guaranteed to be paranoid. The "Block site" addon is most helpful. You need the "Stylish" addon (to do nothing more than hack your way to your other addons) if you have an exotic operating system. The "uBlock Origin" addon would block the ads if that's all you want.Facebook is watching you very closely even if you never had an account, so that's why I have all these blockers. I have so many I can hardly reach any websites at all.

In reply to by venturen

Last of the Mi… Fri, 07/14/2017 - 06:39 Permalink

You gotta love Zuckerberg going to fly over America tryiing to figure out what the problem is. That's fucking rich. If you don't see the irony in that then you're not paying attention. LMFAO!

SillySalesmanQ… Fri, 07/14/2017 - 06:56 Permalink

They created the platform, but never realized, that it would be used against them, in the ways it's being used to tear down and expose them...
"Community standards" is just a euphemism for censorship and the PC police.

Davidduke2000 Fri, 07/14/2017 - 07:10 Permalink

just shut down my website for two reasons, the first is I was wasting my time on people who are swayed by propaganda and two there are laws added everyday to allow the government or any fringle group on the left to sue and since the website was running for 5 years at my expense , I decided I am not getting in trouble for people who are wearing blinders and only moved by cnn and other propaganda outfits.judges are all from the far left and working with the media which make it impossible to win , add to it the deep state and you get trouble coming your way.I would rather go fishing or flying a couple of hours a week or to get it out of my system I go  shooting at the club, all these activities beat writing by far because they satisfy me and me alone.

GestaltNine (not verified) Fri, 07/14/2017 - 09:09 Permalink

Wait I thought libertarians said the voice of the market is God's voice on earth and any monopoly is just and good because they offer superior value. If you don't like Facebook go to Stormfront.

josquin2 Fri, 07/14/2017 - 09:33 Permalink

"Congress, therefore, might pass legislation specifically adapted to this new arena."It would be hard to despise the Social Media landscape more than I do, but the view represented by the quote above is wrong if not plain dangerous. The fact is -- no one is forced to use FaceBook, etc, and he wants to see fed regulation of a voluntary service. Bad, bad precedent. 

moneybots Fri, 07/14/2017 - 09:37 Permalink

"...however: these companies have an effective monopoly on expression in the international public sphere. Although people are ostensibly free not to use Facebook or Twitter, there are no other comparable alternative platforms at their disposal." I don't see there being a bar to creating an alternative. 

Rabbit rancher Fri, 07/14/2017 - 09:37 Permalink

For seven years I have studied what Fascist book censors and how
1 by far is weather modification or geoengineering
2 Anthing about the failed fascist coup /buissness mans plot of 1933 here
3 Gen Butlers book war is a racket
4 ZH article on 303 trillon derivatives bailout /cromnibus
5 Missing gold from libya to 911
6 President Carter Rolling stone interview saying the Us is now a oligarchy
7 Princeton NWU oligatchyy study ,the word oligarchy itself
8 Until recently any from ZH or Martin Armstrong
9 The fact that 43% of all voters are indpendents ,have to keep that red blue illusion alive !
This a partial list
They have more games than Milton Brdaley when it comes to censoring and ugly to the bone in the ways they do it.
PS Weather modification the biggest taboo of all as the problem is being created inorder to get the climate change agenda in place
The ability to create rain was mastered in Vietnam and operation Pop Eye ,look it up and ask why there was a drought in California at all ?
FB is dark state book and what they do not want known a incredible education
100% globalist agenda

ukipboy Fri, 07/14/2017 - 10:15 Permalink

The article does not mention a key factor in social media censorship. There is also peer pressure. In fact this is possibly the most powerful influence for the consumers of social media. When I express support on Facebook for Brexit, others send abusive messages saying that I am supporting "Russian propaganda".In 2016 many were surprised that Brexit passed and Trump was elected when social media was overtly dominated by leftists and snowflakes. But that is also due to the bullying on social media that drives out opposing views and condemns those who hold them to ostracism and "unfriending''.

TJ-7.4.26 Fri, 07/14/2017 - 14:00 Permalink

First of all, Americans need to learn the difference between the words "Republic" and "Democracy" and start using "Republic" in their conversations.Secondly, Americans need to learn the difference between the words "Nationalist" and "Citizen" and start calling themselves a "Nationalist".Thirdly, Americans need to recognize the difference between the words "Rights" and "Privileges" and start recognizing the natural "Rights" of all People.Fourth, Americans need to learn the difference between the words "Self-Control" and "Mob-Rule" and start using and applying "Self-Conrol" to everything.Fifth, Americans need to learn the difference between the words "Freedom" and "Oppression" and start protecting "Freedom" for everyone.Summary: IF you believe you have the right to make a "law" and "force" another human being to do something or not do something which has nothing to do with immediate protection of a human life or protection of personal property THEN you are a hypocrite to claim support of Freedom.P.S. All social media organizations have the right to do whatever they want as long as they don't threaten a human life or damage a human's personal property.  It doesn't matter if someone agrees or disagrees with them.