What is free-speech-safe?

I used a term in a tweet that I haven’t defined — free-speech-safe.

The term applies to a writing/publishing environment.

The question becomes important as the tech industry sucks the open web into silos. This has been going on for years.

I can publish on my own site, as I’m doing here. However, because the site uses Amazon storage, it exists here only as long as Amazon is willing to let it be here. Their record is not perfect. But it’s better than posting on Facebook. Therefore it might not be possible to create an absolutely free-speech-safe environment.

The other day I posted a link to a Boing Boing article to Facebook and it rejected the post. I assume it’s because the BB piece pointed to a site that they don’t want people pointing to. I said that in the most neutral way possible. I haven’t been told by Facebook why it wouldn’t let me point to it. I have asked, publicly.

Facebook is not free-speech safe, and not just because of this. They won’t allow pictures of naked human bodies. They won’t let people use their chosen names. There are so many things Facebook won’t allow. Don’t assume you’re getting the whole story on Facebook. You are not.

I honestly don’t think you can publish journalism on Facebook with all the rules about what they will and will not allow. Yet journalistic organizations are publishing there. I understand why they’re doing it, to reach readers. I would do it too. But we still need places where people can be totally free to speak. I believe Facebook people would want to read such a site too. They’re not bad people, they’re just not creating a place where free speech is tolerated.

We’ve yet to create a really free-speech-safe environment for writing on the web. I think we could do a lot better than we have done, if we had the will to do it. So far it’s pretty clear we don’t have that will.

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