This week Fandango asks…
“Do you believe that social media sites should be able to censor what people post on their sites and ban content creators from posting? Or do you consider such actions to be a violation of freedom of speech, which is guaranteed as a right in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?”
First, let’s talk about the First Amendment. This right guarantees us speech (mostly) free from governmental interference. People are very often confused about this point. The POTUS, much as he may wish to, cannot tell us what to say on our blogs. But our blog platform host, along with our IP, has terms and conditions that we agreed to when we signed up. That’s not the gov’t, and they can enforce their rules, whether against hate speech, however defined, or whatever other thing.
And any individual can ban anyone from comments. I personally have a long list of blocked IPs. These are people who have tried to post shitty comments or spam here and I have censored them. I absolutely have a right to do that. I don’t owe these jerks the right to ruin my convos; they can get their own free blogs. I have blocked loads of people on Twitter too ~ they can’t comment on my tweets because they can’t even view them. When I had a Facebook account, I blocked annoying sorts there all the time, as sensible people do.
Anyway, now we’ve established that it isn’t a violation of our right to free speech for social media sites to ban content. But the question remains: should they? Should the admins police bullies and creeps or let us duke it out among ourselves?
My opinion is that the site admins not only should police content, but they should be much more heavy-handed about it than they are now. We can’t duke it out because the playing field is unbalanced. If I’m a woman posting under my real name, and locatable in meatspace, and an army of trolls attacks me, how am I supposed to fight that? Normal people give up, delete their accounts to protect themselves, and the trolls win. That’s fundamentally unfair… and it happens constantly because anonymous accounts are permitted everywhere.
Let’s take Facebook, which I have deleted. There was a time when FB was vigilant in forcing people to use their real names and identities ~ sure, some fakers snuck through, always happens. But it was a better place then. There wasn’t the massive, continual bullying and trolling, or the fake political bots. But FB caved to pressure from supposed victim groups and allowed people to use any name. To me, that began their great downfall. Billions of users… where to even start sorting that out? And they don’t want to anyway since it’s all potential revenue for ads.
Well, that’s the thing. Right? These sites don’t really want to stop any of this drama because it generates more clicks and excitement than a bunch of people talking about their lunch, which is how we writers initially used Twitter when it was 140 chars and no pics. But the sites have to pretend to care now. Since everyone hates Milo and his brand has died, he was an easy target to dump. Wink wink, nod nod, we’re gonna crack down on hate speech. Yeah, right. And in the meantime look for any Ann Coulter thread… Oh not her. She brings in the bucks. (Not alone, mind. She spews and a fuckton of her haters scream back. It’s a formula. Who wins? Advertisers.)
Back to Facebook. They’re more popular than ever, even though their stock has sunk and new scandals come out weekly now about how they’ve misused people’s data and helped to subvert our elections by allowing the bots to flood Instagram, etc. Normal users don’t care. They just shrug it off. Must keep chatting with friends. Must keep sharing photos. There’s no other way to stay in contact with peeps if I give up messenger. Etc. They’ve been completely brainwashed by the Zuckerborg.
Facebook knows this, so they have very little motivation to actually do anything about the “hate speech.” It’s all smoke and mirrors. And the other social media sites follow suit and don’t shoot themselves in the foot to “clean up” and lose clicks and ad revenue by throwing off people who generate buzz.
Yes, I think they should. No, it doesn’t violate anyone’s rights as long as everyone is treated fairly according to the T&Cs we all agreed to. But it’s not going to happen. The bullying and hate will continue and even get worse as the 2020 election ramps up… starting from the top and oozing on down. Maybe if Twitter banned the POTUS for bullying, that would send a strong message.