Trump Challenges Big Tech As Arbiters of Acceptable Speech
Trump: “Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen.”
From Big Tech taking orders from the questionable SPLC to the Big Tech coordinated removal of Alex Jones from social media, from YouTube “fact-checking” climate change materials and PragerU to Facebook and Twitter shadow-banning and/or suspending conservative and right-leaning voices, Big Tech has been in full censorship mode in recent months. Their targets are almost exclusively Republicans, conservatives, and those who identify as right-leaning.
President Trump came out strongly against Big Tech, stating that “Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen.”
What is somewhat surprising is that there are so few voices on the left arguing against this type of censorship. There was once an intellectual left who believed in free speech, who felt secure enough in their ideology and arguments to welcome opposing viewpoints and civil debate on the issues. Those days seem to be long gone, though one remnant of this dying left-wing belief in American speech freedoms is Bill Maher.
On his show, Maher mentions Jones being banned across Big Tech platforms, and his audience claps and cheers mindlessly. Maher is noticeably irritated and responds by stating what used to be obvious (and used to be true) “if you’re a liberal, you’re supposed to be for free speech.”
HBO talk-show host Bill Maher spoke out in defense of controversial right-wing host Alex Jones after Jones was suspended from several social media platforms, saying that everyone has a right to free speech.
Maher, noting that Jones has “told crazy lies” about him, said on his HBO show Friday that “if you’re a liberal, you’re supposed to be for free speech.”
“That’s free speech for the speech you hate. That’s what free speech means. We’re losing the thread of the concepts that are important to this country,” he continued.
“If you care about the real American shit or you don’t. And if you do, it goes for every side. I don’t like Alex Jones, but Alex Jones gets to speak. Everybody gets to speak,” Maher said.
Charlie Sykes, a contributing editor for The Weekly Standard, pushed back on Maher’s comments, saying that Jones “doesn’t necessarily get to speak on Facebook or Twitter,” to which the host agreed.
“If he engages in vile slander and fabrication about children who are murdered at Sandy Hook and he harasses the parents of children who were murdered at Sandy Hook … Facebook, Twitter don’t have an obligation to provide him a platform because they’re private companies,” Sykes said.
Watch the segment:
Meanwhile, just Saturday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that he “fully admits” his platform’s “bias is more left-leaning.”
Big Tech’s coordinated efforts to silence speech that does not toe the progressive left’s party line is a real problem without an obvious solution. After all, they are not (officially) part of government, though they do seem to be working closely with and heavily financing Democrat pols, so they cannot be held responsible for violating First Amendment protections. The First Amendment doesn’t say anything about what non-government entities can and cannot say or do in terms of censorship.
John Hinderaker at Powerline has posited that the “left is outsourcing censorship of the internet.”
Unfortunately, most political conversation these days occurs not on the “free” internet, where independent sites like Power Line reside, but rather on social media–Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on. Other players include Google (in its search capacity), Apple, Pinterest, Spotify, etc. Happily–if you are a leftist–all of these tech companies are run by liberals. And because they are private companies, they are not constrained by the First Amendment. They can restrict or ban conservative communications on the ground that they are “hate speech,” or on no grounds whatsoever, with impunity.
. . . . Tech titans stick together. Two weeks ago, Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify simultaneously “de-platformed” Alex Jones and Infowars. Twitter held out briefly, and then, in response to demands from liberals, also banned Jones and Infowars. I have never paid attention to Infowars and have no idea whether its content has merit. But simultaneous bans and suspensions across platforms can hardly be coincidental. The phrase “combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade” comes to mind.
Hinderaker concludes with some tentative ideas for solutions to this very real problem, a problem he quite rightly calls “one of the most important issues of our time.”
The Left’s attempt to outsource censorship to its Silicon Valley allies is one of the most important issues of our time. The proper solution may lie in creating competitive platforms, or in legislative, regulatory or judicial action. Perhaps platforms fitting a particular legal definition should be regulated as public utilities. After all, Federal Express doesn’t refuse to deliver packages to the National Review office on the ground that they may contain conservative communications, and telephone companies haven’t tried to cut off connections when two conservatives are talking. Why should Facebook, Twitter and YouTube be permitted to engage in political discrimination?
President Trump said Saturday that his administration will not let the Big Tech censorship of the internet continue. It is not yet clear what, if any, action they can take.
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Years ago, Congress created the Federal Communications Commission because it realized that broadcast airwaves were limited and could be controlled by just a few. The social media giants now run a similar, but chilling oligarchy. Some form of remedial legislation is needed to ensure that users have some sort of redress against these oligarchs.
as you say, the entire basis for the FCC’s power is the dubious idea that the broadcast spectrum is a limited resource, and therefore ought to belong to the “public”. (all resources are limited; does that mean they should all belong to the “public” too?)
However cable channels are not limited, and therefore the FCC has no control over their content. Internet sites are also not limited, so by what pretext should the government purport to regulate them?
the pretext is removing these patterns if by removing their protections as a neutral forum
once that goes away and any deplorable can sue Twitter, Facebook, Google, Youtube, etc… for content on their site that is blatantly false and/or prejudicial, ALL THIS ends
because the alternative for the affected tech giants would be for them to highly monitor every single piece of info that makes it onto their site and there is no way a company like Facebook or Youtube could accomplish this
what Trump should do is have the DOJ file any federal charge that has the tech giants breaching Section 230 by claiming they are engaging in political activism – which have been for quite some time
have those charges go all the way to the Supremes, then you will watch the CEOs of these tech companies start rescinding their companies’ actions
Facebook alone has half a trillion in market cap. I don’t think solving this through lawsuits is simple at all.
Of course, there’s trying the bully pulpit.. the “un-presidential” behavior frowned upon by so many.
I’m no big fan of government regulation, but the FCC seems like a necessary evil to me. Auctioning off the wavelengths is a fair way to ration what IS a limited resource. But more importantly, if the wavelengths were not regulated they would quickly become useless to everyone as radio signals would be interfering with one another all over the place.
Granted, this has become less of an issue with the commercialization of spread-spectrum technologies; we should be seeing the FCC cede more and more to unregulated / ISM bands.
But it could. It has every legal and moral right to. It doesn’t because it’s not in the business of turning down business.
Not under the Civil Rights Act it doesn’t. Would anyone allow Al Sharpton to be treated this way, and then dodge that it’s because he’s a Democrat?
Leftists have amply shown that they are censoring whites, Christians, and males BECAUSE they are white and or Christian and or male, all protected classes, and they shouldn’t be allowed to falsely claim it’s politics based.
Yes, it does. Which part of the Civil Rights Act forbids it?
Absolutely. It would be a complete defense, and if he were to sue the onus would be on him to prove otherwise.
This is less FedEx deciding not to deliver than UPS, FedEx, and DNL together determining not to ship to specific businesses.
So would it be reasonable for conservative activists to purchase those three companies, and then bar someone like Southern Poverty Law Center from shipping or receiving packages, due to violations of terms of service?
You are either a public accommodation, or you are not. You get the protection of accommodation, or not. You decide, and provide proof of your action. Trust, but verify. All subject to the fullest weight of the law.
Public accomodation has nothing to do with this. It is NOT TRUE that public accommodations must do business with everybody. Just like everyone else, they are entitled to discriminate on any basis they like, except those specifically prohibited by law. For instance, since there is no federal law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, public accommodations are free to openly engage in such discrimination, unless they happen to be in a state or locality that has a law against it.
In most of the US there is no law against discrimination on the basis of political opinion. So public accommodations are free to turn away customers because they’re Republican.
More importantly, nowhere in the US is there a law against discrimination against speech the business doesn’t like, and nowhere in the US can there be such a law; the first amendment would not allow it. The first amendment protects businesses against compelled speech. (That’s the issue at the heart of the Masterpiece case; is creating a cake sufficiently expressive to be called “speech”?)
“Public accommodation has nothing to do with this.”
Prove it isn’t based on sex race or faith.
Especially when Leftists have amply shown that they are censoring whites, Christians, and males BECAUSE they are white and or Christian and or male, all protected classes. They shouldn’t be allowed to falsely claim it’s politics based.
No, they haven’t.
The links are too many to list. Literally. You’re on LSD.
There are no genuine incidents, therefore no genuine links
“nowhere in the US is there a law against discrimination against speech the business doesn’t like”
Sure there are, they’re just masquerading as other laws. Laws about baking cakes, for example.
Masterpiece wasn’t discriminating against speech he didn’t like. He was refusing himself to engage in such speech, and the case centered on whether baking a cake really is speech.
Big Text includes Amazon.clod too.
President Trump said Saturday that his administration will not let the Big Tech censorship of the internet continue. It is not yet clear what, if any, action they can take.
He may not have to do anything. Just the vague threat of something big looming over them can make schools, publishers, and many other industries cave.
After Fredric Wertham’s very strange Seduction of the Innocent, a polemic on the evils of “crime comics,” was published in 1954, there was some rumbling about Senate investigations, but nothing official happened. Nevertheless, as inoculation against the unknown, the industry introduced the Comics Code, purely on a “voluntary” basis. Comics which didn’t conform, like Bill Gaines’s marvelous Weird Science, Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt, etc, simply stopped being carried by the big newsstand distributors, and sales plummeted. (To Wertham and his admirers, “zombies” and “crime” were apparently synonymous . . . either that or everybody had a grudge against Gaines, who managed to struggle along with his sole surviving title, Mad.)
Trump seems to be giving the Bully Pulpit a shot. It’s quick and relatively easy, and may do some good. And it has the sterling virtue of not requiring any slippery cooperation from Congress or anyone else, at least at this stage. In any event, it’s probably more Pulpit good than we’ve gotten from any other Republican since Bush Sr’s identification of “political correctness” as a modern menace.
Media That Cried Trump [Blocked By YouTube Again]https://intellectualfroglegs.com/the-media-that-cried-trump/
Crazy is as crazy does….350 newspapers launched a coordinated attack against Trump to prove they don’t do things like coordinate attacks on Trump.
The left has decided that people on the right do not have opinions. They have bigotry. They have no conscience; they have only bad behavior. They have no religion; they have only hatred. Therefore, freedom of conscience, freedom to express opinion, freedom of religion: we can protect them all, and still ban “Trumpians” from every corner of public life. This is the lesson from the “Christian baker” incident and other similar ones.
It is the speech and opinion equivalent of dehumanizing the opposition. It’s cute. It’s sneaky. And it is a complete betrayal of old-style liberalism.
When I was young I was a liberal. I have not changed my mind about much in 50 years. Now I am way to the right.
I still have one major problem wit the Right.
Drug Prohibition is socialism for criminals. Says Milton Friedman.
Socialism for criminals got 2 votes (so far)?
And without the figurative mugging! Kind of like “I didn’t leave the Democrat party; it left me.”
JFK would probably be Republican, and certainly a conservative by this time.
Conservatives should overwhelm them with complaints that all anti-right, anti- Trump speech is hate speech. Report all negative “anti” content as hate speech.
I thought we already wrote about this: The sites are immune from suit for libel, etc., because they are NOT publishers and are not filtering the content, like ISPs:
Defamation means the making of false statements about someone that harms the person’s reputation. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 (47 U.S.C. § 230) is a law that regulates the protections for private blocking and screening of offensive Internet material. This law was created to regulate offensive Internet content. Under this law, an ISP cannot be held liable for defamation made by third parties because the law immunizes ISP’s from suits regarding third-party users of their services.
This immunity is given to ISP’s because they are not considered publishers or speakers of any information provided by another information content provider. This means that ISP’s are immune from lawsuits for defamation for exercising a publisher’s traditional editorial functions of deciding whether to publish, withdraw, or alter content.
ISPs are only considered “intermediaries” for others’ potentially harmful online speech. Since it would generally be impossible for an ISP to screen each of their millions of postings on their bulletin boards for defamatory speech, ISP’s are given immunity against these types of lawsuits.
But since they ARE monitoring and censoring content, they have in effect taken on the role of publishers and should be liable. They can’t have it both ways. If they control content, they should be responsible for it. If they claim not to control content, they have no business acting as censors.
This is why they insist they’re not punishing content but behavior. The problem is nobody believes them.
I’m willing to accept that Dorsey sincerely thinks that is what he’s doing; but the people he’s put in charge of monitoring behavior are radical leftist ideologues and vindictive bitches, so from the outside the different is not apparent.
Imagine if back when at&t had a monopoly on phone service, they had the ability to monitor communication and censor any viewpoint that they didn’t like. And if you tried to start an alternative service like Sprint, you could only communicate with other Sprint customers. That is analogous to the situation we have today with social media.
It seems to me that censorship by giant social media corporations is just as bad as censorship by government, and it ought to be illegal. Abstract libertarian principles about the rights of private companies are detrimental to liberty when the private companies are larger and more powerful than some governments.
The liberties of social media corporations are just as important as those of anyone else. Infringing them is by definition detrimental to liberty. You cannot build liberty on slavery. Otherwise you’re no different from the Soviets building their communist utopia by confiscating all the farms and factories from their rightful owners.
Private companies have a habit of using government to punish the competition. The government has given these companies a safe harbor. The government can take it away.
Look up – Edison Tesla Current Wars – this is not the first time this has happened.
The companies are currently being treated as common carriers.
If they are publishers they should be treated accordingly.
Publishers are subject to libel suits.
That means they will have to inspect carefully everything they publish.
They can’t afford that.
Also, Bill Maher is surprisingly naive. The left’s purpose in free speech was to enable it to become dominant. Now that it’s dominant, it has no need of free speech.
Guess he didn’t understand the end goal of his compatriot nihilists.
Here’s a useful template…
Suppose that Barracula was making these statements? Good? Bad?
Well, typically for T-rump, he’s saying shit. It’s all over the place, so it’s hard to know what shit is the real shit.
Still, if Barracula was saying the same, how would you react?
It’s to the point I don’t even know which politician you’re referring to with “Barracula”. Obama? I’ll assume Obama.
I wouldn’t react at all.
Words are just words.
Barracula has been Rags’s name for 0bama for years. And his point is well made. You can also make it in reverse. Imagine that Trump started calling for “a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the military. Do you think the Trumpalos would have the decency to give it anything like the treatment they did when 0bama said it?
Trump has been doing good things. All in all, so far he’s been a surprisingly good president. If he keeps it up I’ll probably support him in 2020. But he remains the same flim-flam man, selling Hopenchange just like 0bama did.
Words are just words.
When words become executive orders, regulations, phantom laws with no legislative basis, activities by Congress-created agencies of the executive branch, and so forth, that is something.
I’m supposed to be upset because the President of the United States is under the impression he has a right to freedom of speech?
When you’re the president, with the power to make your words matter, words are not just words, they can have a powerful chilling effect. Throughout the 0bama years Glenn Reynolds kept reminding us over and over of 0bama’s 2009 joke about having the IRS audit his enemies. That wasn’t merely “words”, it was a clear joke. Nobody in the audience mistook it for anything else. And yet it had a chilling effect, much like a medieval king, who had the actual power to have anyone’s head chopped off, making jokes about doing so.
That would be a threat. Threatening violence is not protected speech. If I threatened to organize a militia with the intent to blow up Meuller’s house, and if the law deemed my threat credible, that would not be protected speech. I would be arrested.
0bama’s “threat” to have the IRS audit the the president and board of Arizona State University was very clearly a joke, and nobody mistook it for anything else. It was not a threat, and any attempt to sue or prosecute him for it would have been thrown out of court immediately. But nevertheless, it was a joke that sent a clear message to everyone in the country, reminding them of what could happen should the president take a disliking to them.
The same would apply had he been a king with the power of execution, and he’d joked about that. It would not be a threat, but at the same time it would have a chilling effect on the freedom of speech.
“was very clearly a joke”
And he carried it out. No joke.
Of course Team Trump wouldn’t support it, and Trump would be counseled on it same way he was after making naive remarks about gun control, and he would adjust course, just as he did in that instance.
Trump supporters would oppose it for the same reason they oppose repealing the 22nd Amendment. While a third and fourth term for Ronald Reagan would be wonderful we aren’t yokels, we understand the threat is what would come after Reagan. Four terms of Obama, life presidency for Hillary? Hell no.
We’re almost two years are in people really need to stop assuming that Trump supporters are toothless tredneck hillbillies living in a double-wide, sleeping with their sister while they dream of nuking Mecca.
I’m being radicalized. If I am not allowed to use speech, I will find other ways to express my anger. These nerds, for all their tech, are just Paper Tigers.
Destroy Facebook and Twitter. No one will miss them.
And Google’s search engine has been broken for some time now. Haven’t you noticed? I think it’s deliberate, I bet the “O’Brien’s” of the Inner Party still get access to the more accurate and efficient search engine.
google search engine broken
The solution is simple; the government should state that if FB, Twitter et al control their content by censoring conservative speech they are publishers not platforms.
That means they can be sued for their content because they control what is published.
But since so much of what is posted is libelous that would mean accepting an avalanche of expensive lawsuits.
Faced with major financial consequences they will go back to being platforms rather than publishers
Don’t worry, the competition to the big progressive media platforms are being attacked as we speak. Stripe just cut off FreeStartr and BitChute, competition for Patreon (which has been busy canceling accounts they don’t like) and YouTube respectively.
The Social Media Titans are:
1. … Committing fraud:
They are misrepresenting themselves, lying about their actions and activities, lying about their methods, and profiting all along the way.
2. … In breach of contract:
By entering arrangements with “users” — who rely on them and invest their time, energy, money & reputation … and then getting the rug pulled out from under them, causing them damages. The arrangement between the Social Media Titans and their users is in fact contractual. The “platforms” are not a gift. They are an exchange. When users keep their side of the bargain, and the Social Media Titans do not, that’s a breach of contract.
3. … Misrepresenting themselves before the law:
Claiming they are “platforms” — exempted from being liable for problematic content — when they’re actions are those of a publisher.
4. “Hate speech” can not be used in a terms of service:
It has been given no objective definition. It is arbitrary and transitory. It relies on who FEELS (or feigns to feel) offended on behalf of some alleged group — even if that group is not in fact offended. Arbitrary, undefined/undefinable, bogus requirements or demands have no standing.
Those accused of breaching the “hate speech” part of the terms of service agreement have not in fact breached it. If they have, the Social Media Titan should be able to easily spell out what the breach is — to point to specifics. They don’t do that because they can’t. They can’t because “hate speech” is not a valid concept.
By not providing specific details on what the breach is, they make it impossible to distinguish between an intentional or unintentional breach (which can be corrected). And their claim of a breach can not be put to the “reasonable man” test.
5. They are engaged in coercion as well as being subjected to coercion — both collaborating with and kowtowing to governments such as China, the UK, the EU, and politicians to oppress citizens and, in the case of Google in China, to empower a hostile power.
And that’s just for starters.
I dropped Twitter long ago, too much anonymous foul swill posing as genuine comments. Prager is right, the left ruins everything it touches. Conservatives need to migrate to a better platform.
A few years back, the state of Washington attempted to force all talk radio to register their air time as a campaign contribution to GOP candidates. This was shot down 100% by the state supreme court. The rationale is that there was nothing blocking the left from expressing their own views on the same platform.
However in this scenario- it is different, they are in fact curbing functionality based on your political opinion. That should be qualified as a political contribution. I’m on the fence on whether Trump should swing that hammer as I would rather see the invisible hand respond.
Seems the left is doing another end run around the First Amendment. They have the bulk of the schools and the media, and now they are putting the socialist into social media.
Is it genius or happenstance? The end result is the same: non governmental censorship of certain thoughts.
They keep Trump from blocking followers, while simultaneously blocking conservatives. Sounds “fair,” but then, they are private organizations/corporations, *completely* different from the corporations that the liberals, sorry, socialists usually rail against.
Hypocrisy: the tribute vice pays to virtue.
Sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Apple Podcasts function as the public square of the internet and receive the benefit of and are not required to screen content under DMCA. Although they are not subject to the First Amendment of the US constitution, each is headquartered in and maintains servers in California which may be regarded as the physical location of the public square they maintain. Under California law, upheld by the United States Supreme Court in the Pruneyard Shopping Center case, a private owner of a shopping center that effectively functions like a public square is required to allow free speech on private property even if the owner disagrees with the content. By analogy, perhaps the same may be true for a California based server functioning as an Internet public square.
I am not a constitutional law expert, but someone who is may want to consider the possibility of bringing an action in California on behalf of an individual or individuals censored by these sites.