Over the last couple days many "conservatives" on Twitter sat by and watched as their followers dwindled down and away prompting them to ask themselves, "what is going on"? "Did I say something that angered a hundred or so of my followers?" No, the reason is more of a sinister one. Twitter not only has banned President Trump from their platform, they started wacking other right leaning/conservative accounts that show any hint of promoting or endorsing what they say is Qanon content. For those wondering what Qanon is, Qanon is a movement, a belief in a wide ranging unfounded conspiracy theory that says President Trump is waging a secret war against elite Satan worshipping pedophiles in government, business, and media. With that being said, Twitter apparently has a host of policies that could get you kicked off or banned from their platform, raising the question: what about freedom of speech? That's the big question here in the land of the free... in government, business and the media
Let me just say, I do NOT support Qanon or believe in that conspiracy theory. I do believe in freedom of speech whether I like that speech or not. In my understanding and according to Lawyers.com, the government cannot bar hate speech unless it's direct, personal, and either truly threatening or violently provocative. In other words, there are examples in which the government can legally restrict/punishment your speech in the event your speech is personal and threatening so lets break that down. These are the examples of where censorship is legal and you would not have a case to fight it:
- Defamation - false statements that can damage a person's reputation.
- True threats - threats to actually commit a crime. Ex. "I will murder you if you do not do this."
- Fighting words - face to face personal insults that are likely to lead to an immediate fight are punishable. However this does not include political statements that offend others and provoke them to violence.
- Obscenity - any hardcore sexually explicit pornographic material is not protected by the 1st Amendment.
- Child pornography - photos or videos involving children engaging in sexual conduct is not permitted or protected as free speech.
- Commercial advertising - if there is advertising that is false and misleading to the public, the government can shut it down.
I'm not a lawyer or legal scholar here but to me, it appears President Trump is protected in his First Amendment rights and if Big Tech like Twitter or Facebook were to challenge him saying he violated the first amendment clause 3 with fighting words, he did not. It specifically says "political statements that offend others and provoke them to violence (aka his followers, Qanon, whoever)" does not count. If the President said go out, breach the Capitol Building, go into the Senate Chambers, and try and attack Pelosi, then that would be another matter. The President is merely expressing (completely legal) his frustration with the election results, what he believes, and telling his followers how he feels. That's legal whether I agree with him or not so the social media overreach is out of control when is comes to shutting down the President's account. I think that's completely in violation of the First Amendment and does infringement on freedom of speech.
As for the other massive Twitter drop offs, I honestly think it's more of the same of what they did to President Trump. It's more silencing of conservative voices than shutting down violent speech. I think there is a good portion of accounts that have been suspended under the guise of Qanon suspicion, not actual proof. Sure, there might be a portion of them that is indeed tweeting "true threats" and in theory that would be a legal exception to the 1st Amendment protection but my question is, how is it that these social media companies are allowed so much power to decide who gets a voice and who doesn't? Who made them the authority? Who do they think they are, the United States Supreme Court? Where are the Twitter suspensions of Democrats who have been committing "defamation" against Trump and his family this entire Trump presidency? My problem is there is a blatant double standard going on here. If you're going to condemn one group for violations, dammit, condemn the other for an equally damaging violation!
I won't even get into what Big Tech is doing to Parler...We are at a time in our country where we need to stop and take a good long look at what's happening with our First Amendment and what is legal and what is not and furthermore what we want to be legal and what we do not. Do we want to be a country where our social media companies run amok and play government telling us what is okay to say and what is not okay to say in expressing our opinions? Do we want that much censorship because right now we are allowing our Big Tech companies to be in charge of overseeing censorship with no repercussions... Does that scare you? It does me. The government (BOTH Democrats and Republicans) needs to get more involved and they only just started scratching the surface after Twitter's censorship of the New York Post and the Hunter Biden laptop story...