Social Media Censorship: Legally Justifiable but Philosophically Poisonous
What we can learn from the banning of Milo Yiannopoulos
Did my title say social media censorship is legally justifiable? Whoops! That’s not entirely true. Here’s the caveat: its usually legally justifiable but not always. as in the case of Being Libertarian. After all, the breaking story of Milo Yiannopoulos suspension from Twitter after his confrontation with Ghostbusters star, Leslie Jones, comes on the heels of our very own site’s Facebook page being temporarily deactivated. Before being restored once it was clear we did not break our contract by violating Facebook’s terms and conditions.
Yet while we didn’t break the rules Milo did, He may have gotten away with it too but when the #BanNero hash tag went viral and could no longer be ignored he was ultimately banned. The power for Twitter to do this derviers from the following passage in its rules agreement:
“We believe in freedom of expression and in speaking truth to power, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up. In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we do not tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.”
This is obviously a policy that is extremely broad and in being so leaves much open to interpretation. It was likely crafted intentionally in such a fashion so as to give Twitter’s management sizable control over the content available. Yet regardless the moment one downloads Twitter and begins using it they are entering a contract with the company that ensures your right to use it as long as you follow the rules, and if you don’t the contract becomes null and void; along with your account. This should be respected, after all contract law must be respected in any society that strives to achieve more liberty for its citizens.
That still doesn’t change the fact that what Twitter has done is wrong. If not wrong legally, it sure is philosophically, especially for a site that espouse their supposed belief in free speech.
By banning Milo, Twitter has succumbed to legitimizing “hate speech”. A social justice term that has in recent years began to poison the free speech well by claiming some things are honestly just to mean to be said, and should be banned. Twitter has now also emboldened the ban happy social justice warriors who are looking to rid the internet of its freedom in order to create an online cyber safe space. Now they know all they need is a trending hash tag to take down a political opponent. This only further entrenches the attitude of the progressive left that when it comes to facing dissent, criticism, or downright nasty trolling (some of Milo’s followers went so far as to compare the black actress to a gorilla) all you should do is organize a movement to crush opponents’ platforms instead of just ignoring them or verbally firing back to defend themselves.
This is especially dangerous in an era when social media, the main platform for alternative news and viewpoints, is becoming more and more centralized. As of now Twitter and Facebook are arguably the only major, online, platforms where people can effectively market their ideas to the mainstream world. So when libertarians, and possibly even you yourself says, “It is their company, they can do what they want”, think for a moment if that’s all you actually have to say because it probably isn’t. That’s because you know like the rest of us that most technology and digital companies lean heavily left. Something that the recent Facebook scandal, in which there was manipulation of conservative new media in order to suppress it, has only made all the more clear. They are progressives who for the most part want safe spaces and speech restrictions like Europe has already adopted.
So once you defend their right to ban users, say the biggest ‘but’ of your life and make it known how profoundly dangerous of a decision it is for them to do so. Proactively shame them for any decision that stifles free and open discourse however petty, because right now they may just go after Milo and the more outspoken but when they run out of people like them, next they will come for the more mild mannered. Which you dear reader could yourself be among the ranks of. They will come for others because the leftist ideology can only survive as long as the victimhood mentality survives. Which to remain alive is always in need of an oppressor, and in a world where real oppressors are either dwindling away or being ignored, they will instead choose easier targets, like peaceful libertarians and conservatives to deem as their “oppressors” and go on a campaign to stifle those of us they haven’t already. Yet we can stop that now if we stick up for those like Milo and insist he be reinstated on Twitter, because reinstating Milo is reinstating free speech. Which is a principle that should never have lost its place on society’s pedestal in the first place.