Free Speech Isn’t In A Tweet
Why We Get The Whole Free Speech Thing Wrong
By Rod Eccles
Elon Musk has set a fire under Social Media and Big Tech. Maybe a bonfire. And lets just say that even Government isn’t pleased.
This whole thing about free speech started long before Musk first joked about buying Twitter. Sure, his joke became serious and he actually did it. Elon Musk bought Twitter and the fans of Free Speech cheered.
Those who really don’t understand what Free Speech is threw hissy fits. Some even abandoned the Social Media platform. But most who blustered they would leave if Musk actually bought the company have stayed on.
But even as Free Speech advocated cheered, our own government jeered. Even going so far as to employ some passive aggressive vocal threats that the Biden Administration will be keeping an eye on Musk and Twitter.
Musk also brought to light just how bad the old Twitter was towards Americans. He showed the stats, the evidence of how this Big Tech company was bashing Free Speech and how it actually affected the 2020 elections.
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With all the hub bub a number of elected officials brought to the front of everyone’s mind that somehow Twitter was stomping on Free Speech. Advocates kept talking about our RIGHT to speak our minds. While those who hate the idea of having to read or listen to thoughts and ideas they vehemently oppose threw fits saying this KIND of Free Speech is dangerous to Democracy.
Others said Twitter is a private company and thus isn’t bound by our Constitution.
Hold up. Say what now?
Oh yes, they shout. Twitter is private and can do whatever they want.
Well, not so fast. True, the Constitution pertains to government. Federal and State and Local government. The Founders did not mean for the Constitution to apply to private citizens or private industry. Although, to be fair, the Founders thought it was obvious.
But here is the problem. Twitter, like the other Social Media companies out there all hearken back to the days of the “Wild West” of the Internet. Many of us remember the socials of Friendstr, MySpace and even Motley Fool. (Motley Fool had forums of various topics, including politics their Land Of Off Topic Posts area) That is when Free Speech reigned supreme.
Then Facebook changed and came on strong. Advertising that you could be free to be you and express who you are with very little limits. Of course you had to be honest and not dip into obscenity.
Not too long after, Twitter was born. You were told by the company you could Tweet to your hearts content in short 140 character or less bursts.
And even though the Constitution does not bind a private company to its commands, Twitter bound itself to it. They ADVERTISED and PROMOTED that if you come to Twitter you would be free to speak your mind without fear of reprisal.
You see when you promise something as a company, you have to fulfill that promise or you will be guilty of false advertising and/or fraud. And companies are fined heavily for doing such things. But not the Socials. Nope.
In fact the Socials got huge. Started making a ton of money from all of us creating the content for their sites, without compensation to those who created that content. And when they got so big they quietly and secretly changed their Terms Of Service.
Facebook is now famous for banning or limiting people and their accounts for violations of their current terms of service for posts that were posted years before the current terms came into being. In other words, all of these giant Socials decided to make their new, secret Terms Of Service retroactive.
I know so because Facebook has dinged me a number of times for post I made back in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. A whole decade after I made the post. I am not the only one. By far.
Think of it this way. Government secretly changes the penalties for speeding in 2020. They make it retroactive. You get a notice that you own hundreds of dollars more for a speeding ticket you got in 2009 and if you don’t pay your license will be revoked. See the problem?
No, you don’t have a right to say anything you want on someone else’s platform. However, when they tell you, entice you, advertise to you that you can say just about anything and its even in their Terms Of Service THEN they decide since they now have millions and millions of accounts they secretly change those terms violating their promise to you.
Truth is, if Twitter or Facebook or any other Big Tech or Social advertised truthfully they would not be anywhere near as large and dominant as they currently are. And that my friends, is basically fraud.
Maybe you don’t have a right to say anything you want on someone else’s platform but once they make you a promise they have to keep it. And if they violate that promise they should be punished.
And this is why you cannot sue any of these Socials. If they were open to law suits, they would be put out of business.
In my view, Freedom of Speech violation is the LEAST of our worries and problems with Socials and Big Tech.
Rod Eccles is the owner of the award winning RodEccles.Net website, Host of the popular audio/radio program – The Rod Eccles Show which returns to the air on Monday, January 9,2023 6 pm to 9 pm Eastern on ZMA Radio. And he is a dynamic Key Note Speaker. You can find out more about Rod and his show and speaking engagements at www.RodEccles.Net and www.ZMARadio.com