Social Question

Demosthenes's avatar

If we don't trust the government to regulate speech, why do we trust corporations?

Asked by Demosthenes (14561points) August 19th, 2020

I often hear the argument that social media platforms and online services are private companies so they can do what they want and ban anyone they don’t like for any reason. Sure, not disputing that is how things are now. But is that how they should be? It doesn’t make any sense to me that the same people who don’t want the government to be able to decide who is and isn’t allowed to have a platform seem to be okay with corporations making that decision. Is there an alternative? I don’t think government takeover of social media is a good idea; that’s just trading one problem for another. But should big tech companies have so much power? Are social media platforms de facto public spaces?

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10 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

You get to create your own way to carry your message: printing press, write a book, distribute your own movies or videos. No one can stop you from that.

But your obnoxious position may mean you have to figure out a way to pay for it.

Donald Trump had to buy advertising to get his racist ideas about the Central Park Five published.

Corporations don’t have to listen to you anymore than you have to listen to them.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Government has the power (not the right) to arrest you for what you say. (see: China). Bad governments are oppressive.

Corporations come and go, and ultimately are regulated by the marketplace. They don’t have the sovereign powers that a government does.

LostInParadise's avatar

The flip side of freedom of speech is the right to ban speech to the contrary of what you believe in. What is the point of freedom of speech if you are forced to allow visitors to your site to say things contrary to what you believe?

canidmajor's avatar

Social media are not “de facto public spaces”. The Internet is de facto a public space, but social media exist as separate business entities, most supported by advertising. Anyone is free at any time to avoid them. Unless your living is absolutely tied to them, which is unlikely unless you work for a social medium business, you are free to leave at any time.

Don’t like the rules of posting somewhere? Post somewhere else.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Who says we trust corporations to regulate anything?

Jeruba's avatar

Nobody owes anybody a platform. Censorship is the systematic suppression of specific ideas or ideology. There is nothing a website owner can do to prevent you or anyone from going out into the world and saying whatever you want to say, by whatever means you can. They just don’t have to provide you with a way to say it under their own auspices.

I don’t trust any profit-making enterprise to put public interests ahead of their own. What if they decide to be evil? But they aren’t going to come to my house and gag me or take away my pencil and paper.

I do, however, think we would be really stupid to put all our faith in anything that plugs in or has to be recharged. We should be preserving low-technology solutions that can be implemented broadly and not relying on narrow resources that are maximally energy-dependent.

SergeantQueen's avatar

I don’t, and we shouldn’t.

Find another platform, or obey their rules. Do you go into stores with no shirt on and expect to be served when the sign clearly says “No shirt, no service?”
If your work dress code says you can’t wear anything with a graphic design on it, and you come in with a shirt that says “BLM” or “MAGA” Or “Biden for president” you would expect to get talked to. They aren’t taking away your first amendment, you are breaking the rules and they can remove you/ban you, anything.

It gets into a gray (grey?) area though, when the company says “no shirts with graphic designs on them” but allows for BLM logos, while removing anyone with a MAGA shirt.

Similarly, you can expect to be removed from social media for violating their TOS. But, when you get removed for speaking your mind, and someone else doesn’t, that gets to be annoying and weird. Why would posters of one political party get removed but not the other?

Anyways, I don’t feel these companies owe us anything. As bullshit as it is, they can remove all Biden supporters or all Trump supporters if they want.

Darth_Algar's avatar

You can say whatever you want, but you do not have to right to say it from my yard. That I will not allow you to say it from my yard does not prevent you from going somewhere else and saying it. This isn’t a hard concept to understand.

johnpowell's avatar

Let’s say there was some concerted effort to have 10K people come into Fluther and just post the n-word as much as possible. All the legit users would leave to a place where that didn’t happen. Basically killing the site overnight. Should Fluther have the right to remove the garbage to protect their business?

You might think there is a difference between Facebook and Fluther, and there is. But Myspace used to be really popular, until it wasn’t.

gorillapaws's avatar

The solution is to break up monopolies, and to distribute the wealth and power across more entities. It’s the same problem with the concentration of the mainstream media to a small handful of companies.

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