Free speech

  • IMO the idea that social media companies should not be held responsible for the content on their platforms is fatally flawed. 
  • Every time I see a story about a social media platform “censoring free speech” it makes me want to complain about the complainers in my local town square to my audience of zero. 
  • The argument that social media censorship can’t occur because of the right to free speech is silly, because sharing content via isn’t “speech”. Rather, it is requesting that they relay one’s content. The right to free speech doesn’t say that someone or something is required to repeat said speech. 
  • Therefore, social media companies are well within their rights to curate what is and is not traveling through their systems. This isn’t a town square, it’s a group of sandwich men in the public square that will promote what you want for a fee. 
  • (Or, to build the analogy more like most social media, they’ll display your messages on their sandwich boards for free, but also keep an eye on what people do about town and then sell that info to business in exchange for promotional signage.)
  • Because of this, social media (and all other concepts of the “web 2.0” era that rely on the idea that users should build content on servers/services not their own) should be held responsible for the content they transmit. 
  • If a social media platform is like a town crier-for-hire, they are within their rights to refuse to shout fire in a crowded theatre—to overuse that line—and should be responsible for the ramifications If they choose to say it. 
  • It should also be said that, just like how many postal services aren’t allowed to read your mail and also aren’t responsible for the content of the letters, end-to-end encrypted messaging providers and the like can’t be held accountable for the encrypted content they transmit, but it’s well within their rights to use the non-encrypted info to prevent them from being liable. 
  • Currently feeling like a major tech grouch while writing this. 
  • Basically, if a service provider can be justified in censoring content on their service, then I think they should be held liable for any and all content on their service. 
  • Social media has thrived because of the free pass they’ve been given and I think that should end. Obviously that’s not an easy process and would severely hamper the business models of the major platforms, but I think it’s for the best. 
  • (I can’t shake the idea that “thrived” is the wrong form of the verb and it should be “thriven”.)
  • The core concept of free speech, that no one should be able to prevent someone else from saying something, is a good idea. But just like how it doesn’t give one a free ride to say what they want without facing repercussions, it shouldn’t give third parties re-broadcast that speech without being responsible for it.