Saturday, February 19, 2022

Facebook Basically Buys Our Constitutional Rights

Facebook Jail, lots of people have been there. Talk to the average person on any social media platform today and they will likely have their own stories of censorship. In the past, I was supportive of social media being able to indiscriminately ban or censor whoever they wanted because, in my own words, "They are private entities, who have the right to govern their content. You can open your own website if you don't like it." 

However, my views have changed dramatically over the last week, and it centers around the fact that I myself was also banned for several days and censored for simply stating historical facts about American history that apparently someone didn't like. My account was locked for 6 days, and I was kept from advertising or participating in any groups for nearly a month (that restriction still remains today, February 19th, unless I interact through my backup account, and get this, even my backup account was locked out for several days just because I apparently re-added my friends too fast).

The reason I have changed my views significantly is because of the power that Facebook and other social outlets have over free speech. In my view, it becomes more than just a private business issue when you have control over the speech of the world. The largest speech platforms are all privately owned, which means that corporate powers like Facebook can make the world say only what Facebook would like them to say, or whoever may be influencing Facebook at the time. These days, if you want to speak to other people, your only option is through someone else's service. Even if you open your own website and blog, it's not really your own because it's operating through another provider's server. This is a way that governments and private powers can take our freedoms without any laws. They just buy and own the means through which those freedoms are distributed and exercised. For example, if I buy up all the voting machines, shut them down and say, "I didn't take your voting right. I just exercised my right as a private business owner." The reality is that I did take your right away. Not all service providers are like this, of course. I've been on BlogSpot and Google for years and they've never tried to censor me. In fact, even the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has voiced his support for free speech. But the fact is that enough powers, within Facebook and elsewhere, control public speech to make censorship a problem. Not to mention that Congress basically pulled Mark in front of them and threatened him. 

Now you can buy your own server space on the internet, but that's normally not an option for most people for reasons of money, time, and/or promotional problems. Unless you're already famous, the chances of your server getting huge traffic may be rather small. Even my website and blog, that has over 350,000 visitations so far, was promoted through Facebook posts. The simple fact of the matter is that modern social media has control of our Constitutional rights simply because of how big they are, and I think it's time for the government to reexamine the power that these companies can have to ban and censor.

I think the speech laws of society should also have to be upheld by social media. As long as you're not threatening, bullying or harassing people, inciting violence or spreading clear hate speech like racism, sexism, etc, then the media site should not be able to ban or censor you. As long as you are within those reasonable bounds of decency, your account should be your own personal business. You have the right to your opinions, beliefs and worldviews no matter how much someone else might disagree with them. I have changed my views on social media regulation because I came to realize that those who have massive power over the population, should not have unlimited power. Otherwise, I fear that fascism will come to America wrapped in a terms of service contract.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

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