Free Speech and Social Media Companies
 
 
 
 
Free Speech

- Gosh, as I’m writing this I really feel like I’m getting sucked in again. When we returned to Japan I made a deal with myself not to get crazy over the happenings in America anymore….what was the point? We have no intention of ever stepping foot on American soil again. Then, within a week, the capitol building was stormed by Trump supporters, and Twitter finally deleted Trump’s account, hopefully for good. The next thing I knew, I found myself back to writing again. The events of this week simply could not be ignored. I already wrote about the storming of the capitol building, full text here, and now I feel the need to say something about the first amendment and censorship.
First Amendment

There’s a lot of talk now about whether or not Twitter had the right to delete Trump’s account, and if Facebook is within its’ rights to flag and delete his posts, and suspend his account. I believe both companies are well within their bounds to do both. Before you call me out on this and saying America will soon become another China, consider the following.

This is the exact wording of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Note that the protections of free speech apply to Congress and Government. There is no mention about individuals or private companies such as social medias companies like Twitter and Facebook.
Relieving Stress

It was 2016 and we were already planning to return to America. The wheels were already in motion, I was selling a property and purchasing a property, both located in San Diego County in California. This was all being orchestrated online. During these negotiations, we followed the 2016 presidential elections results, also online, and watched in disbelief as Trump was elected president. I was freaked out, to say the least, to think I was moving back soon after this guy would become president. I began writing about current events, making Trump memes and posting on news articles to vent and relieve post election stress.
Bias

At some point I posted a comment on, what turned out to be, a conservative online newspaper. I can’t remember the name of the paper, but a day after posting, my post had been removed. I reposted only to find the post removed again the next day. I sent a letter to the editor, who was also the owner of the newspaper, asking about the deletion. He said my post was deleted because he didn’t agree with my views. I sent an email to this guy saying he should keep his paper unbiased, present both sides, and reinstate my post, He replied and basically said no way, tough shit. Was I pissed….hell yeah, was there anything I could do about it….hell no…Why? Because it was his newspaper, his game, case closed. Such as it is with Twitter, Facebook, and any of the other PRIVATE social media companies.

Consider this. Friends, a couple, come to my home for a meal and to share some wine together. At some point during the course of the evening, and maybe after a bit too much Cabernet, one of them says the holocaust never happened....one of the many conspiracy theories circulating around. After a heated discussion, I ask my friends to leave. Is that censorship? Maybe, but again, my home, my game, case closed. My home, in this case, is my private social platform which I can extend to friends in whatever way I see fit.

Keep in mind that when you join a social media site you are agreeing to THEIR terms and conditions, like it or not. Once you press that "I accept" button, you agree to guidelines of behavior prescribed by that particular company. Go outside THEIR boundaries of acceptable behavior and you can expect to be flagged, reprimanded, and possibly deleted.

What about a restaurant operating in a state which allows smoking? A restaurant within that state makes the decision to not allow smoking. A customer comes in and begins smoking. The restaurant asks that customer to leave because there is no smoking allowed and it is bothering the other customers. Is it wrong to ask the customer to leave?....NO. Their restaurant, their game, case closed.
Censorship

Most social media companies have a built in check and balance system. Inappropriate posts can be flagged by the online communities. Get enough flags and your post may get deleted, get even more flags and you might find your account terminated. These companies are for profit, PRIVATE companies, and are well within their rights to remove posts, and close accounts. Think of it as these companies exercising THEIR freedom of speech protections under the First Amendment. A prohibition of these companies being allowed to censor their communities by the government would then be a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

People who join social media communities need to keep this in mind. If they have conservative views, belief in conspiracy theories, and hate, they should realize all the Facebooks out there have every right to take action if they feel the need. Those who don’t like it can take their hate somewhere else….plenty of platforms out there that will allow them to be heard….UNFORTUNATELY.
About Time

Anyway, this is my opinion. Quite honestly, recent moves by Twitter and Facebook are too little, too late. Trump should have had his accounts deleted years ago before he was allowed to do the damage he did. This was not going to happen though as long as Trump was president and could pass regulations that would have severely damaged these companies and reduced their profits. Social media companies allowed Trump an open forum which resulted in the loss of many American lives, due to conspiracy theories, misinformation about the virus, and most recently the instigation of the storming of the capitol building. Although I applaud Twitter and Facebook for their recent actions, I can only say….WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG.
 
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