Social Question

Cruiser's avatar

What are your thoughts on Internet censorship?

Asked by Cruiser (40421points) November 18th, 2016

Read today that Twitter is suspending accounts of select Twitter uses that powers that be there don’t agree with their views. I also saw and read how Facebook filtered negative news stories about Hillary and other stories favoring Trump and the Republicans and I believe they also suspended select conservative accounts.

Wiki has an interesting read on Internet Censorship and they did a survey of 10,000 net users around the world and some of the results are…

“In a 2012 Internet Society survey 71% of respondents agreed that “censorship should exist in some form on the Internet”. In the same survey 83% agreed that “access to the Internet should be considered a basic human right” and 86% agreed that “freedom of expression should be guaranteed on the Internet”. According to GlobalWebIndex, over 400 million people use virtual private networks to circumvent censorship or for increased level of privacy”

Should the internet offer the same protections of the First Amendment?

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33 Answers

Darth_Algar's avatar

No private entity is obligated to allow you to say whatever you want.

Seek's avatar

Imagine requiring a newspaper to print every letter to the editor that is mailed in, no matter how vulgar, senseless, or offensive.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Don’t forget child pornography. Without SOME censorship, some very undesirable things could end up there.

Sneki95's avatar

The closest thing to “censorship” I would agree with is that, if you let a small child near a computer, it should be somewhat protected from pornography or content that is way too gruesome or violent. Even for the adults, if you run into something that is controversial, you should be warned and offered an option to avoid the content if you don’t want to see it for some reason. A warning never hurt anyone.

What you stated in the details is breaking people’s right to speak. If I don’t want to see a post about Trump, I should have the right to remove it from my feed, but the poster has the equal right to post it. What Facebook and Twitter are doing seems like a political propaganda.

canidmajor's avatar

Which actual, real, authentic US news sites are filtering and/or censoring information (other than the obvious having-to-choose because you can’t post literally everything)? Last time I looked, Facebook, Twitter, privately owned Q&A sites, cooking blogs, Star Trek sites and my friend’s daughter’s being-a-busy-mom site. We’re not being touted as news organizations.

ucme's avatar

All kinds of wussdom

cinnamonk's avatar

I think that ████████████████████████████████

BellaB's avatar

Twitter is not part of government. FB is not part of government. They are businesses. Only one website I post at is government-owned (BBC).

As long as websites are private businesses, they have the absolute right to decide what is acceptable. At the same time, we have the right to visit/post at sites that share our general sense of what is acceptable.

There is no right to free speech on the internet. The internet is not American – there is no First Amendment t/here.

BellaB's avatar

@Darth_Algar said it first and best.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Twitter is not shutting down the accounts of people its owners disagree with. It is shutting down the accounts of people violating its terms of service regarding hate speech. It’s no different than when we ban trolls from Fluther.

Seek's avatar

@Sneki – no one is being blocked from their right to speak.

If someone wants to spout hate on the internet, they’re more than welcome to find a venue that wants to host them, or build one of their own.

You’re allowed to say whatever you want, but I don’t have to let you shout it from my front porch.

johnpowell's avatar

Obligatory xkcd

Don’t miss the alt text:

“I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you’re saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it’s not literally illegal to express.”

Sneki95's avatar

@Seek I guess you’re right. Still a political propaganda and kinda dick move.

Cruiser's avatar

@BellaB I asked this questions for their thoughts on this matter not to just have people state the obvious. The internet is a fluid changing frontier and vulnerable to all forms of censorship and I have interest in how people view and feel about all forms of censorship on the internet. When 2 of the biggest forces on the internet start flexing and controlling their members messages…is that a good thing or bad for business?

johnpowell's avatar

If a obnoxious 5% drive off 6% of the good users then it is bad for business and the 5% should be removed. Assuming you are concerned about it making business sense. Twitter is pretty toxic and I now actively avoid it.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Cruiser “When 2 of the biggest forces on the internet start flexing and controlling their members messages…is that a good thing or bad for business?”

But they’ve already been doing this, more or less from the outset, by incorporating algorithms that control whose messages you are seeing. You just don’t like this particular decision within the algorithm. Even if nothing changes, they are still controlling members’ messages and promoting/withholding content.

These entities are not only within their rights to make these changes, but the changes are entirely consistent with their platform. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use the service they provide. No one is forcing anyone to participate, and there are still plenty of other ways to share false information, if you want to do that for whatever reason. <shrug>

Cruiser's avatar

Just making an observation and asking a question @dappled_leaves…thanks for your answer and POV. Have a fab Thanksgiving my friend.

flutherother's avatar

While I am very much against censorship I think a little editorial control of the internet would be a good thing. We had that with printed media and freedom of speech wasnt adversely affected.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

Censorship is really unnecessary. People who use internet should know the consequences of using internet and be responsible for their own action online. What if a child use it and find some things his/her parents find undesirable? Well, it’s not the internet’s fault for not providing censorship as it’s not obligated to follow parents’ personal taste/moral, the parents themselves should be the ones to make decision and be responsible for their own child. However, a warning sign can be given in replace of censorship, so those who still wishes to enter the site despite the warning are people that are deemed to have agreed to accept the implied consequences of frequenting the site.

BellaB's avatar

@johnpowell has it right

If a obnoxious 5% drive off 6% of the good users then it is bad for business and the 5% should be removed. Assuming you are concerned about it making business sense.

This is about business, nothing more, nothing less.


Media has long made decisions based on advertiser power. Advertisers want readers/viewers. Lose market, lose advertisers. It’s not complicated.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Cruiser Already had my turkey(s) in October, but you enjoy yours!

Cruiser's avatar

@dappled_leaves I never said I liked or disliked a public internet institution’s right to filter content on their sites…I merely asked you how you felt about it…have a fab Thanksgiving.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Cruiser I hear what you’re saying.

And Canadian Thanksgiving is in October.

Cruiser's avatar

@dappled_leaves well then…hope it was delightful.

Darth_Algar's avatar


It isn’t a matter of shielding kids from objectionable or anything of that sort. If I want to shout “I hate niggers” or “gas the kikes” I’m free to do so all day long. But I’m not entitled to do so on someone else’s dime. When it comes to private business, property, etc, the person footing the bill has the right to decide what is and isn’t allowed.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

@Darth_Algar I am not against what other people can legally do within their own realm. If they can legally censor certain things then so be it but that doesn’t mean I agree with the reasons behind their action. I am more interested in whether or not they should allow censorship online. Like I said, if parents find certain things objectionable in internet then it’s all up to said parents to manage how their kids use internet, conversely no website is obligated to adhere to any parent’s taste, moral, background, etc unless it provides any pragmatic value to the website (which is understandable).

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Unofficial_Member “I am more interested in whether or not they should allow censorship online.”

Who do you imagine “they” are, in this scenario?

Darth_Algar's avatar


Not sure why you keep going on about parents and kids, when it’s been explained to you that’s not the issue.

Put it this way – I’m not a parent. I don’t have children. I’m not concerned whatsoever about shielding delicate little eyes and ears. But I’m still not going to allow you to stand in my yard to broadcast hate speech.

johnpowell's avatar

And to expand on what @BellaB said.

People wonder why Twitter has 3,500 employees. A lot of them are working to sell ads. So say you are Ford and they want to buy some ads. As it is Ford has to worry their ad will appear alongside super racist shit.

You might think advertising doesn’t effect you but it does. So there is a little nugget in your brain that will associate this bad thing with Ford. And that is a huge problem for Twitter. Advertising isn’t really about direct sales but about brand awareness when you are a large corporation.

cazzie's avatar

Anyone following the report about the guy making up the fake news to attract the alt right Trump supporters and being rewarded with lots of shares and traffic? He stopped laughing on his way to the bank when he realized he helped get Trump elected. Yeah, I expect some self monitoring of the Internet because people are demonstrably dumb.

odatin's avatar

Hierarchical rights would not produce mutually benefits. Societal stability depends on mutual benefits. Therefore, stability can only be maintained by respecting both rights.

In practical terms, this is accomplished by defining boundaries. Thus, one’s right to free speech stops at the boundary of another’s private property. Both parties retain their freedom of speech and property rights in this manner.

If one doesn’t like the rules of the property from which s/he was allowed entry, one can create better rules on their own property or migrate to another. The same goes for those who are offended by content that they do not like.

This is exactly what happened when Reddit and Twitter started purging users whose content they did not like. Those users who were purged from Reddit went to a site called Voat and those who were purged from Twitter went to a similar site called Gab.

Access to the internet or any service cannot be a human right because no one is entitled to another man’s innovation, investments, labor, or finances. There is no mutual benefit here. One right is being deprived to benefit another. This causes societal instability.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@johnpowell is spot-on. Just look at how New Balance have been stumbling over themselves for the past several days trying to make clear that they don’t support racist ideology – all after some alt-right fuckwit posted something along the lines of “New Balance – the shoe for white people”.

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