Social media companies have over the past several months been stepping up enforcement of their terms and services. This has been overtly politicized and everybody already knows it. We have known this from the beginning. The Proglodytes have begun taking measures to insulate themselves online from the cultural right wing and we are slowly beginning to see the fruits of these efforts. As they ramp up we will see them even more clearly. This has led to a pushback from this same cultural right, as they claim these insulating policies are violations of their freedom of speech. This really isn’t quite the right approach and I have a proposition that could help reframe the issue more effectively.
I can’t speak for other nations, but here in the United States we have a codified protection of free speech and it explicitly mentions several different mediums.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
This lets us worship as we please without government interference. This lets us speak freely in the “public square” but restrictions have been backdoored into this. Our newspapers are basically allowed to publish as they please up to the point that malicious and intentional assaults can be proven. Finally, we have the right to gather and protest as we please, though this one too has been restricted over time by the state.
As I mentioned earlier many people consider social media to be a “free speech” issue. They consider it to be illegal censorship to be removed or deplatformed from these services. This is inaccurate. These services are businesses and as such for better or worse can do as they please with their product. Specific websites are not part of the “public square” nor should they be thought of this way as it infringes on the owners’ property rights and functionally nationalizes them. There is a better solution.
We should make a conscious shift and begin considering them as “freedom of the press” issues. Think of it like this, the website is your editorial staff. They have the right to publish anything and everything they might want content wise on their platform. The users written content then would be thought of as similar to a columnist, or maybe more accurate as a letter to the editor. This means if you have the ability to self-publish you can write more or less whatever you would like. This means that if you write for someone else you need to play by their rules because you are in fact writing for them.
This I think is even more reasonable when considered in the context of the latest twitter controversy as well. Twitter now is actively engaging in removing the verified “bluecheck” from certain users. A certain very loud, very irritating subset of the culture war is deeply upset about this. These people think they are being censored. They have no argument to support this. The only one who has been willing to engage me on the topic only was able to claim a slippery slope with no attempt to even demonstrate a possible progression to actual censorship. They need to understand that they aren’t writing for the front page anymore, that is all this means.
Finally, this seems to be the only actual logical conclusion. You are literally writing, correct? Your posts are published and read, aren’t they? So long as you remain a writer and someone else is publishing you are in fact in an understanding with them. Until you are on your speaking tour please understand which of your rights needs protection.