Social Media Censorship
Earlier this week, President Trump sat down in the Oval Office with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to talk about, among other things, Twitter’s censorship policies, and his own follower count. Trump asked if Twitter had discriminated against him — his 45 million followers pale in comparison to Barack Obama’s 105 million, not to mention Katy Perry’s 108 million.
Perhaps Trump’s ego is interfering with his ability to see clearly on this issue, but social media censorship is still a vital topic of concern for all Americans who value free speech.
When tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter dominate so much of the online landscape, their speech codes, suspensions, and “deplatforming” campaigns can make or break a person’s business or reputation. Prominent libertarians and conservatives, including Scott Horton of AntiWar.com, have already been flagged or removed from social media for so-called hate speech. Who’s next?
If you believe, as I do, that neither the government nor powerful tech companies should be the arbiters of what counts as unacceptable speech, you should consider moving to Minds.com. Minds is the social network for free exchange— where sunshine is the only remedy for bad ideas, and censorship is the only viewpoint that isn’t tolerated.
Minds CEO and co-founder Bill Ottman joined me last year to talk about the need to diversify away from Big Tech’s monopoly on free speech.
Since then, I published an entire book on the dangers of free speech bubbles — particularly on college campuses — that insulate people from allegedly offensive ideas. Both universities and social networks share a superficially private quality, but are the equivalent of today’s public square. If the First Amendment doesn’t defend free speech here, it’s useless.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1946 [Marsh v. Alabama] that a company town couldn’t prevent one of its residents from distributing religious literature, since the company management was essentially acting as if it were the government. The majority argued that “[w]hile the town is owned by a private company, it is open for use by the public and thus becomes limited by the constitutional rights of the people there, who are entitled to the freedoms of speech and religion.”
I chafe against the idea of any social media network acting as a quasi-government agency, so I think libertarians are better off moving to freer platforms like Minds.com. Until they kick me off, however, I will continue to use Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and the like to spread the word about what’s happening.
Also, catch “The After Show” with me, Bill, and my producer on YouTube, where we continued to discuss the slippery problem of free speech in the digital era.