The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals has put a Texas law that allows users to sue social media companies back into effect. Under the law, users will be able to sue large social media platforms with more than 50 million active monthly users such as Facebook and Twitter if they believe they were banned for their political views. HB 20 also prohibits social networks from removing or restricting content based on “the viewpoint of the user or another person.”
I know this may be an unpopular opinion but this is a terrible idea. I can hear the cries of “Free Speech” right now. This has nothing to do with Free Speech. This has to do with the proprietor of a service having a right to say I don’t like what you are saying in my shop. I’ve said it time and again, we all agree to terms of service when we sign up for these websites. We give them various permissions so we can take advantage of the free platform to promote ourselves, connect with others, or whatever. Some people have made millions of dollars by being quite proficient at social media. In exchange we play by their rules. If you don’t like the rules go someplace else and follow the other place’s rules. If no place will allow you to say what you want to say then do it the old fashioned way and scream on a street corner.
You do have the right to say many things. That right is freedom from persecution by government. It is not the right to say whatever you want in my house, in my store, or on my website. I don’t buy into the argument that social media companies like Twitter are the new public square. Social Media is a place for the extremes to do what they crave…gain attention. It costs them nothing to do this. The most extreme people say the most extreme things on social media. And let them…until the owner of the company says they are looking for a more gentile product.
In Citizens United the Supreme Court ruled that corporations were people. An unpopular decision to many. If they are people don’t they have the right to say my freedom of speech is being violated when you say those things on the product I created and oh by the way charge you nothing to use?
And isn’t it the American way that if you don’t like something…whatever that something is…you will drag them to court? You know who wins? Lawyers.
Texas lawyers even made the argument that platforms like Twitter and Facebook are not websites but are really internet providers? Really? I pay my internet provider to give me internet access so I can visit right wing websites, left wing website, chicken wing websites, etc. I use Twitter for free and Twitter gives me access to nothing but Twitter. That argument alone is a reason to be laughed out of court.
I think these issues should be settled gladiator style. Let’s not settle it in court. Let’s have a fight to the death. I don’t think this will stop hate speech. I don’t think this will help free speech. I think this will be far more entertaining than any opinions shared on Twitter or by a court. You have banned me and now you shall die. Hazzah!