What does it mean when a social media company bans the account of one of the most popular people to follow in the world? (If that describes Trump adequately.) And bans large numbers of other people, bans groups, and censors content? And that it does so in pursuit of a particular political agenda, Marxism and “social justice” ideology?
As a corporation with stockholders, isn’t a significant goal to make money? Twitter is publicly traded as TWTR on the NYSE. Evidently, the political agenda and “social justice” goals of Twitter’s management are more important than shareholder value. “Social justice” takes precedence over money, customers, and abiding by their own terms of service.
The often heard argument (Libertarian 101 take) is: “It’s a private company; they can do what they want.” The argument falls flat for several reasons.
1) Twitter is in bed with the government. They receive funding (1), supply information (2), and the CEO willingly jumps on the next plane to D.C. anytime Congress wants information and help in writing regulations of the social media industry (3). The company is in the regulatory capture phase of growth and would love to use the power of government to squash competition and hamper startups. The line between government and private corporations is blurred in these public-private partnerships. We should recognize it for what it is — Big Social Media platforms are not really “private” companies in a free market environment. This ends once government gets involved, and it is, after all, the only way monopolies can form and sustain. The government and Twitter are on the same team now, and we aren’t invited to the game.
2) Censorship based on content, political agenda, and social justice ideology is still censorship. Even if it isn’t legally a 1st Amendment violation. When we point out Twitter engages in widespread censorship of both tweets and user accounts, this does not mean Twitter can be taken to federal court on 1st Amendment violations. It is still censorship. Censorship by a platform claiming to support free speech is ethically wrong.
3) 47 U.S. Code Section 230 exempts social media platforms (“interactive computer services”) from the liability publishers can legally be subject to (4). From Section 230: “No provider shall be treated … as the publisher.” Publishers legally can do content-based censorship — it is inherent in what they do. Section 230 exempts platforms from civil liability for restricting content containing “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable” material. Twitter acts as a publisher in content-based censorship of tweets and user accounts for political and “social justice” reasons, yet enjoys the legal protection of a platform. Note that “opposition to social justice ideology,” “opposing critical race theory,” and “Donald Trump” are not on the Section 230 list of content allowed to be restricted by a platform. Publishers legally can and do restrict such content; if MSLSD wishes to never quote Trump, they legally can do so, as publishers. Twitter shouldn’t be allowed to have it both ways.
4) Twitter has a terms of service (ToS) that the corporation and users mutually agree to when joining. Twitter has rules, including: “Our rules are to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely” (5). Users joined under free speech platform terms and built a following. Many generated income, all operating under the assumption Twitter would do what it said. Then Twitter began deleting tweets and banning users entirely for political and ideological reasons, in pursuit of Twitter management’s personal agendas. This violates the ToS agreement and Twitter’s own rules. If Twitter had disclosed an intent to censor based on content in pursuit of a political agenda, Marxism and social justice ideology, many people would not have signed up.
5) The final argument for this list was pointed out by Zuby: If private companies are allowed to do what they want, why can’t they open?
Unsafe Space is currently suspended by Twitter, and now has zero (0) followers. The channel joined in 2014 and had built a large following. Unsafe Space was given no reason for the suspension. But the thread we believe Twitter will use as its reason is factual. It’s somewhere between difficult and impossible to argue that anything in the tweet and the following comment thread Unsafe Space was suspended for is in the Section 230 list of allowed restricted content (6). The tweet and thread with saved videos are here (7). Same for the Twitter rules and policies. As of this publication, Twitter has not provided any rationale for the suspension. But so be it; we expected this. It is good practice for when Facebook and YouTube ban us for speaking the truth and backing it up with rational arguments and facts.
Truth is hate speech to those who hate the truth.
Rest in Power, Twitter. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…