Free Speech and Social Media

Where do we now stand in terms of Free Speech in the Digital Age?

This Free Speech issue in tech, where social media and tech companies are by law allowed to censor, is the most critical issue of our times as it cuts across the most fundamental rights we have as Americans.
When you participate online in social media you don’t have unlimited freedom of speech. On Facebook and even on Google Search you are “in the corporate domain” of that company. That means companies have a right to control what you say and who gets to read it in their networks and online. Scary stuff, since so much of what we read, write, and search is manipulated now by advertisers and search engine history.
Corporations for many legal reason have the right to censor or filter content. Their rights supersede your own under the Constitution to some degree, I’ve read. And so you don’t have the same rights using social media as you do speaking out in the air under the sky or in public to you friends and family. It’s just not the same and one reason Ive disliked Social Media since it started 15 years ago online.
It’s a fascinating problem in America now as we dismantle Government institutions and allow private interest, backed by investors, to run America. What it now means is we are forcing millions of people to communicate more and more on corporate money-making technology websites and software they do not own. And despite what corporate America claims, their motivations to make money and avoid embarrassment that shames their brand now overlooks both our privacy rights, the content we add to their networks, and the free speech we pretend to have in this new online America. The fact is we have no control over our words on social media.
In other words our push to take down government regulation has now forced us all into a pickle over how much control corporations have over Free Speech and the filtering of our created content. It’s now sold to the highest bidder,  which means Human communication is no longer about Free ideas but a giant popularity contest to sell advertising dollars.
How disturbing is that????
I’m 100% against white supremacy, hate, and all groups that even mildly support racism in any form. But we have to be careful with free speech here. Who gets to decide what we say and do online coming up?
This is finally biting social media and digital content companies in the butt. Because people, companies, and the Federal Government are on a collision course over Free Speech that will continue for decades thanks to digital technology and it’s corporate invasion and control over us via social media.
(Btw….this is why the past 15 years I’ve encourage everyone to create a website AWAY from Facebook, Google, and Apple’s control so you can say what you want and exercise real Free Speech!)
The end of this argument will be what citations corporations can give us when we use their technology “incorrectly”, or what rights they have to control our words when we type something in their networks or websites.
Is that not, ironically, conflicting with the rights of hate groups? Should they be forced to allow racists to say what they want on their media sites or those that work for them? Again it is a sticky issue….
This opens up a really nasty fight between the “delicate balance” between American freedom to say what we want anywhere, yet not step on corporate brands and promote violence and hate, some of which is not protected under Free Speech, btw.
It’s really confusing when you hear some techies spead ignorant stereotypes about women and technology, spread hateful bigotry, and use their fortunes, intelligence, or “tech privilege” as a new form of hate speech or even discrimination. The most intelligent members of our society writing Artificial Intelligence are just as racist and ignorant and flawed as the rest of us, it turns out. What does that say about the intelligent robots they are building and which they claim will take over society the next 100 years?
This isn’t a conspiracy moment don’t worry. But I do think as a society we must take the side of Free Speech in all of this else we not just criminalize words, but force people to go underground in their bigotry and views. Also scary.
Is America courageous and smart enough to allow even it’s worse sides….perversion, hate, bigotry, and even some criminal communication….to have its freedom to express itself? Or are we going to allow corporations to start dictating morality like some Orwellian nightmare?
It’s a very painful and difficult bridge this country will have to cross coming up. Because if we don’t all allow ourselves to openly accept other people’s right to express hostile and negative views that differ from our own and even our own rights as citizens, then Free Speech will die. And that could lead to your own views and words in the future filtered out, erased, used as weapons against us, and our careers and families threatened by simple words on a screen. Do we want that type of monitored and controlled society? We are already there…..

Who then gets to play God and decide if your words and views and life have value in the future? A technology company? Groupies, shamers, or haters online? AI or robots written by technocrats? Social Media corporations?

This is a difficult choice and I hope Americans will talk about it and think hard about the role government must have again in controlling corporate America and our free speech rights. It’s up to them and us to now decide….
– the Author



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