Freedom of speech to die in information age

By Matthew Grube
Staff Reporter

America is at a defining point in our history where two paths are beginning to emerge. The first path is where a handful of big tech companies, such as Google, YouTube and Twitter, control what people are able to say and see on the internet, and the second is where we the people have the freedom to say and watch what we want. This should be an easy decision but sadly enough we are already going down the first path of censorship unless change is brought about.

Social media is where people go to express themselves and their opinions; it is the public square of the twenty-first century. According to CNBC, Trump banned a Twitter user back in 2017 and so a case was taken to the courts which led to a federal judge Naomi Reice Buchwald to rule that Trump could not ban people on Twitter because it was a “designated public forum.” This means that people have the constitutional right to voice their opinions to him. If Twitter and similar big tech companies situated in the US are in fact public forums, they ought to respect the First Amendment and allow people to voice their opinions regardless of whether or not big tech has deemed those opinions wrong. This is not happening; at the moment, these platforms can censor at will and have. An example of this would be when Twitter censored a pro-Trump group called the Proud Boys under the false narrative that it was an extremist organization in order to rob the Proud Boys of having a platform to express their views. That is an attack on free speech. Big tech has horrific potential in only allowing what they want us to say and see. They can sway the public the way they choose and silence whoever they want. That is incredibly dangerous for what is supposed to be a free society and we cannot allow corporations to suppress the rights of the people and the way we discuss ideas. The First Amendment does not stop with newspapers; it evolves with the technology we create to ensure we have the freedom to express our opinions. That is how it is supposed to work.

If censorship was not bad enough, it is selective. This censorship is largely affecting conservatives and not leftists. It is no coincidence the people that own these big tech companies are based in California, where political correctness is sacred. As a consequence, these people view themselves as the morality police, considering people that disagree with them as hateful or a bigot. It is then no surprise that conservatives are being censored far more than liberals on these platforms; one such example is the case of Sarah Jeong, a verified Twitter user. Jeong is an Asian American woman and leftist, who has tweeted many awful things directed at white people. When the conservative community on Twitter saw her tweets, many were rightfully disgusted, especially at the fact she was being hired at the New York Times and the tweets remained up. She was never banned or suspended by Twitter, and many felt like the same standards were not being upheld for both sides. Candace Owens, a rising conservative public figure, decided to copy several of Jeong’s tweets but replace “white” with “black” and “Jewish” to show how hateful Jeong’s tweets were. Immediately she, not Jeong, was suspended from Twitter. Jeong said those things about white people, but Owens decided to point out how hateful it was. The fact people would tweet such hateful things is disgusting, but Jeong has a right to her opinion as long as she isn’t encouraging violence and she should be able to voice it just like everyone else. That’s how free speech works. Both women, Owens and Jeong, should be able to express what they think is true. Unfortunately, Owen’s ability to do that is threatened if she talks about the wrong things, while Jeong can be as anti-white as she wants.

It does not stop with Sarah Jeong; anti-white tweets are perfectly acceptable for Twitter and other big tech sites it seems.

Apparently, this content doesn’t violate their hateful conduct policy but conservatives are held to a much tougher standard.

Conservatives such as James Allsup, Roger Stone, and Milo Yiannopoulos have all been either banned or suspended for things leftist can get away with.

Yiannopoulos, a gay conservative provocateur, criticized Leslie Jones and her role in the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters and was permanently banned. Twitter is fine with Jeong being racist but not a gay conservative criticizing a terrible movie and its cast.

There are many more who have been censored for what they believe and the list is growing. It is a complete double standard which could be dealt with if people could express their opinions without the fear of being banned, if they could just exercise their First Amendment rights in the information age.

These platforms are private companies, but that does not justify their ability to control the flow of information as they see fit. That information is incredibly important in the way people discuss ideas. They have monopolies on the information we consume and that power must be restrained in order to prevent the tyranny of corporate censorship.

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