Historically Americans have recognized two forms of speech: free speech and government speech. If a government limits what you can speak or publish, that’s government speech.
Now we have a third administrator in the speech restriction business: Facebook, and to a lesser extent, Twitter. Speech restrictions imposed by these two social media platforms shouldn’t matter because both are private entities. But their sheer size, global reach, and political influence negate that argument. More than 2.2 billion people use Facebook or one of its subsidiaries every day—almost one-third of the world’s population. Twitter’s monthly usage numbers are around 330 million.
Why is restriction of your speech on social media an issue? You must understand what free speech is. It’s not necessarily truth. Truth is not a requirement. You can wish, hope, think, or sincerely believe something is true even though it is false. Free speech means it’s still your right to speak it. Google agrees: “Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction.”
Facebook and Twitter protest. They have decided, most notably during the Trump years, that only “truth” can be published on their platforms and, of greater concern, they have decided that they are the arbiters of what is true and untrue. What YOU think is dismissed by the Twin Titans. When either platform blocks you for publishing something that is not “true” in their vaunted opinion, they are voiding your opinion, because to them their opinions are the only valid ones. You don’t like what one candidate has to say about climate change? You’re blocked. Don’t agree with government restrictions meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus? You’re blocked. Are you concerned that an election conspiracy may have tainted the poll numbers? You’re blocked.
I repeat: These are private platforms, thus they are not bound to apply free speech protections that we enjoy from the U.S. Constitution. What is irksome, though, is the full-frontal assault on their users’ dignity. Quite simply: What you believe does not matter to Facebook and Twitter.
Hence, you do not matter.
The bottom line is that Facebook and Twitter have no respect for their users. If they did they would step aside and let us speak freely without fear of being blocked or having our accounts cancelled. Even the fact-checking edits Twitter affixes to political tweets are insulting to users. It’s akin to being admonished by your teacher in front of the entire class while you’re giving your history presentation that you misinterpreted the outcome of a battle or got your dates wrong.
Do you like being made to feel small? I don’t either. When I find an acceptable alternative to these puffed up platforms, I’m moving on.