Are social media's recent bannings a freedom of expression issue?

You neither quoted nor tagged, so this mystery “you” doesn’t likely know you responded.

(Guessing that I am the “you” referent …)

Maybe. (Very meta that intro comment. :slight_smile:)

Information may be “true” or “untrue” but our individual beliefs and the matching of those beliefs with some objective reality, each, may not always overlap. There are, I am quite sure, beliefs you hold with absolute confidence as “true” that I hold with equal confidence as “false” . The converse as well. And likely many more that you have absolute confidence about that I merely think of “likely true” but with some doubts reserved, pathologic skeptic that I am.

History is full of times that those in charge of access to information felt 100% confidence that their belief of what was “true” was 100% accurate, and that any speech to the contrary was dangerous disinformation. Usually their word for such disinformation was “heresy”, sometimes “treason”, and they justified suppression of it as “factually wrong, and demonstrably dangerous”. Putin takes the same position when he suppresses dissidents by any means needed … most ideas suppressed through the years were suppressed because they were deemed both false and dangerous by those with power at the time. Of course it likely is true that some of what was suppressed was both those things! But obviously not all.

Slowing down disinformation and preventing the stoking up of the credulous is something I see as a necessary public good. AND I see history as full of examples such power abused and dissent suppressed, including within our country. I would personally hope for caution that accomplishing the former does not enable the latter in the future. And I’d be especially concerned about those who claim they want to control expression on the basis of “moral principles, ones that society in general at least claims to hold”. Much of the harm in history was done by those with that as justification. Nothing should trigger off alarm bells more than that claim.

It wasn’t but some keep missing the memo!

I was! Thank you!

By no evidence, I mean all that is required is for someone to complain about something you’ve written. There is no objective standard, no trial to decide if you are guilty of anything.

If you post something on social media which someone complains to the police about, then it may well be recorded on the police system as a non-crime hate incident. This means that even if no crime has been committed, the fact that you were complained about will be recorded on the police computer.

As for the consequences, it could affect your chances of getting certain jobs:

These sorts of incidents are not crimes and will not show up on a basic disclosure check. This level of DBS check only shows your current, unspent convictions and cautions. A non-crime incident is by definition not a crime, so won’t appear. Standard disclosures may show older convictions too, if the police feel that they are relevant to the job under consideration. However, the real issue might be with jobs which require an enhanced disclosure. This is the most detailed level of disclosure, and the Police look at everything on their database about you, whether that is convictions, cautions, or intelligence such as a recorded non-crime hate incident.


Perhaps you are right. What I’m saying is that Trump breaking the Twitter TOS gave then a reason to ban him, but it wasn’t the immediate cause. It’s like any situation where rules are selectively enforced, eg a corrupt regime where the dictators friends are only prosecuted for their crimes when they fall from favour. Were they prosecuted because they committed crimes, or because of the dictator’s disfavour? I guess you could say both.

As I see it there are two different factors being mixed up here: government vs private actors, and punishing someone for speech vs deplatforming/stopping other people hearing that speech. I was trying to separate out if @k9bfriender objects to the government suppressing speech because it’s the government, or whether he specifically objects to punishing people for speech but not to deplatforming, whoever does the deplatforming - or some combination of the two. Hence me asking if he objects to the government suppressing speech but not punishing you for it. Does that make more sense?

I’m afraid I don’t have the posh accent. But yes, I can’t understand why if the consequences are the same, you think it matters so much who is taking the action. Perhaps in the past only the government had that much power, but that is not necessarily the case today.

Seconded. I think most posters here would agree that even 20 or 30 years ago, society in general was wrong about some significant issues. Twenty or 30 years ago some people reading had very different ideas of what was true or false; some followed different moral principles. If individuals and society in general had not been exposed to contrary information, they would never have changed their minds. And there is nothing special about the present. We don’t have all the answers, and our own moral principles will surely be regarded as imperfect in the future.

But they would actually have to show what it is that you have written, right?

Sounds like evidence to me.

That’s because you are not found guilty of anything.

Apparently jobs that require a pretty high level security clearance. The kind of jobs where they will also interview your family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and anyone else that you have come into contact with in the last decade or so.

In those cases, are you also upset that one of your contacts may say something negative about you, and you would have no trial to decide if you are guilty of anything?

The objective standard would be implemented at the time when application for such a clearance is reviewed. If they see that someone complained about something that you said on social media, then they will take that into consideration, along with all of the other information that they acquire about your behavior. If it is a frivolous complaint, then it will be ignored. If there is legitimacy to the complaint, then that is a fair consequence for your actions.

At that level scrutiny, they will also pick up on any complaint your neighbors may have had about you not mowing your lawn, playing your music too loudly, or letting your dogs bark.

Your worry is about such an edge case, one of which your concern would be such a small part of the decision, that it’s pretty absurd to even advance it.

It also has nothing to do with social media TOS and their implementation thereof, and is entirely to do with a desire to never see any consequence for the actions that you take.

It was the cause. Why else do you think that they banned him?

He was given more leeway than a regular joe twitterer, but they specifically explained that because he was an important public figure. You did notice that he was the president of the United States, right?

No, it’s not anything like that. That’s a horrible analogy, that doesn’t work on any level, for any reason, whatsoever.

I think that twitter was very clear on why they gave the president of The United States more leeway than they would a regular twitter user. It was not because he fell out of favor that they finally pulled the plug, it’s that he used up that leeway and went too far.

That only because you said that there was no difference.


By a private company that has no obligation to give you a platform?


Not really. There were quite a number of loaded questions with some pretty inane assumptions built in that I don’t know how to best unpack.

Let me ask you, if someone sends me a chain letter, and I don’t pass it on to 6 of my friends, am I deplatforming them? If you answer that, then I’ll have a better idea as to where you are coming from.

Because the consequences are not the same. The government can (without projections given by 1A or similar free speech stipulations of other countries) prevent you from speaking. They can tell you not to say certain things, and they can levy punishment on you for doing so. They can take proactive measures to stop you from speaking in the first place.

All twitter can do is tell you that you can no longer use their service. You can use another service that has a TOS that you find more amenable, or you can make your own service that has whatever TOS you want.

No, that is still the case today. Twitter can’t put you in jail for speaking out against the government, the government, absent free speech protections, can.

I’m going to guess that many of us had moral principles back then that would be considered far more “ahead of our time” than you.

I’m not sure an employer’s ability to fire you for speech expressed outside of the workplace is the subject of this thread much, but no, they don’t. They don’t have to show you anything. And this can and does happen in jobs without high level clearance required, people choosing their therapists or hosts of other things. I can point you to threads about it if you’d like …

Profit loss expectations given public opinion wind blowing and knowledge that he will soon no longer be president.

You do notice that he still is for a few more days and had been much more explicitly horrific previously?

And that responds to the point in what way? Great for you if you were ahead of your time but the point stands - by definition most of society did not hold moral positions that were ahead of their time and held those views to be out of step with moral principles that most of society claimed to hold.

A majority holding a moral view is a poor justification for handling other takes as dangerous disinformation.

I’m saying odds are that I am far more likely to be looked on as correct than DemonTree 20 years from now, based on prior experience.

True story: Late last year (couple of weeks after the election), I had an in-person interview for a security re-investigation and the following standard question came up:

Have you EVER been a member of an organization that advocates or practices commission of acts of force or violence to discourage others from exercising their rights under the U.S. Constitution or any state of the United States with the specific intent to further such action?

I deadpanned to the investigator “The short answer is no. The long answer is no, I’ve always been a registered Democrat.”

Luckily, my investigator thought this was hilarious.

Also, at the time, I didn’t realize how true my statement was.

Maybe. Maybe not. And to the point, it has nothing to do with the point. Again nice to self congratulate yourself. Good you! But not relevant to the conversation.

Relevant to the conversation is that use of the standard of justification of speech limits by way of “based on moral principles, ones that society in general at least claims to hold” YOUR ahead of the times positions were NOT the moral principles society in general at least claimed to hold. Were likely at the time held by those with control over to be viewed as a wrong belief, a dangerous one even.

And people like me who may not have been so ahead of our times, would not have had the chance to be convinced as we have been.

Defining dangerous disinformation as that which goes against the current widely held moral principles is pretty dang dangerous.

And just to be clear, I can see nothing in what you linked to that gives grounds for your prediction. But accepting some basis for it as a hypothetical - it would precisely make the point, not dispute it.

Modnote: please attack or debate the posts and not the poster. This was attacking the poster. Please do not repeat.

This is just a guidance, not a warning. Nothing on your permanent record.

Would you find it acceptable if Twitter amended their ToS to read: “By your use of this service, you agree that Twitter has unrestricted rights to suspend or ban your account without giving notice or reason.”

This would expediently solve the objection “Twitter is not adhering to their terms of service”.

No, it’s for jobs like teacher or childminder or doctor. They are not going to be interviewing your friends and hearing about quarrels with your neighbours, that’s beyond absurd. They might search your social media, but if there are obvious red flags then that’s your own fault. I don’t think the police have any business recording non-crimes and potentially reporting them to future employers with no recourse for the individual concerned.

I never said it did. It was a reply to a different question, and no it isn’t a desire to never see any consequences. It’s a desire to have the same protection you enjoy from the 1st amendment.

Perhaps you could make an argument as to why it doesn’t work rather than merely stating it?

Of course not, but you already knew that. The SDMB banning you does not deplatform you either. It is only when one platform dominates the conversation, or a few do but all push the same message, that it becomes an issue. The same thing can happen if one company owns too many media outlets - the owner gets to choose what information other people are exposed to and the slant it is given.

So hypothetically, if the government deplatformed you, but didn’t punish you for your speech, would that be a problem or totally fine?


Next question?

Relevant article:

There’s some similar arguments from the experts to what we’ve seen in this thread.

Since at least June of 2017, the Twitter ToS has contained this paragraph:

“Our Services evolve constantly. As such, the Services may change from time to time, at our discretion. We may stop (permanently or temporarily) providing the Services or any features within the Services to you or to users generally. We also retain the right to create limits on use and storage at our sole discretion at any time. We may also remove or refuse to distribute any Content on the Services, suspend or terminate users, and reclaim usernames without liability to you.”


So it seems like this is less about how Twitter applies its ToS, and more about giving the government the power to dictate Twitter’s ToS?

Some quotes: