Are Twitter and Facebook Suppressing Free Speech?

The election cycle is finally over, or is it?  If you are a conservative or Republican, perhaps you have come to the conclusion that the press, the media, and especially social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter suppressed the story from the political right and actively promoted the tory from the political left.  Supposedly, these are organs of free speech, protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

It is obvious that Facebook and Twitter have been heavily moderating and editing content posted by its members about the Pandemic and the recent elections.  Many people claim to have been “kicked off Facebook” or had their ideas and comments deleted or rendered unsearchable.

These companies have enjoyed the protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and are not responsible for the free speech of their members.  Nevertheless, these social networks do not allow any and all opinions equal protections under their current rules.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, “Section 230 says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. § 230). In other words, online intermediaries that host or republish speech are protected against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do. The protected intermediaries include not only regular Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but also a range of “interactive computer service providers,” including basically any online service that publishes third-party content. Though there are important exceptions for certain criminal and intellectual property-based claims, CDA 230 creates a broad protection that has allowed innovation and free speech online to flourish.”  These ideals seem to becoming a thing of the past.

I was recently invited by a friend to a newer social network called MeWe, and so I did some investigating, and this social network is attracting my people from the political right, due to MeWe’s commitment to privacy, non-commercialism, and free speech.  On MeWe’s FAQs page, they state “Unlike other social networks, at MeWe we have absolutely no political agenda and no one can pay us to target you with theirs. MeWe is for law-abiding and TOS-abiding people everywhere in the world, regardless of political, ethnic, religious, sexual, and other preferences. We have a strict and clear Terms of Service protecting our members: haters, bullies, porn, spammers, bots, lawbreakers, violence inciters, etc. are prohibited.”

The success of platforms like MeWe was inevitable once it became obvious that Facebook and Twitter had essentially become organs of the political left.  But here’s my issue with this.  Politics in the United States has become so incredibly devisive.  We already spend too much time in our little enclaves, socializing with people who think like we do.  What I observed from my own social media posting is the total unwillingness of people to consider an opinion that differs from their own.  Separating ourselves even further by joining different social networks will only exacerbate the problem.

Am I joining MeWe?  Not yet.

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About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at http://wyzguyscybersecurity.com

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