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Digital Corps: Freedom of Speech versus Censorship

Free Speech First Amendment

While I don’t cover U.S. politics anymore, what is published in America does not stay in America. Thus, please enjoy this informative, and delightful conversation regarding America’s freedom of speech and the First Amendment from 2014 with Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia.

Yes, there was a time when people could respectfully disagree. Both Justices have since passed on.

Unfortunately, misinformation is abundant regarding America’s freedom of speech and censorship that’s being disseminated online. Let’s try to straighten some of it out.

First, the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States 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.

U.S. Constitution

The First Amendment of the US Constitution protects the people.

Digital companies like Twitter, Facebook,  and YouTube are not the government.

Thus, the First Amendment does not protect people from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.  

If you have issues with a digital corporation read their Terms of Service to see if you have violated any of their terms.

Digital corporations may enforce their Terms of Service (“ToS”). Enforcing ToS is not censorship. It is enforcing the laws of general applicability within their ToS.

If you disagree with a digital corporation’s Terms of Service, you have the freedom to stop using their platform.

  1. Terms of Service: Twitter
  2. Terms of Service: Facebook
  3. Terms of Service: YouTube

Conversely, there are digital corporations that do not enforce their ToS. This is why there is so much fake news. To learn more you might want to read The Communication Decency Act Gone Wild: A Case for Renewing the Presumption Against Preemption.

Who is censoring who?

Conversely, while some people are ranting and raving about censorship online, others are quietly self-censoring, by signing off and getting offline. See for e.g., “I decided to quit Twitter and I feel like a new man,” “Why I quit Twitter, a list,” and “20 Celebrities Talk About Social Media Anxiety and Why They Quit the Internet.”

With all the assorted online nonsense, and tort breaking with real-world consequences happening online, who can blame anyone for signing off and unplugging?

But what about their freedom of speech? Who is censoring who? Who is bullying who? Do you want to live in a civilized society or an uncivilized one? You can’t have it both ways.

See also: Public Service Announcement: Acting on false/fake news can land you in prison.