Who Controls the Internet?
The case Taylor v. Twitter may determine the matter.
A case with far-reaching implications for the rights of the public to internet access has been filed in San Francisco. At stake is the public's right to say or see what they want versus the unrestricted power of internet corporations to refuse service to unpopular clients.
The view of plaintiff Jared Taylor is, simply put, that internet forums such as Twitter are not just private corporate assets but also public forums that people have a right use. While the company can charge what it likes, it can no more deny service to people than can the telephone company or the mail. Taylor's view is based on the landmark Supreme Court case, Robin v. Pruneyard Shopping Center. Pruneyard held that private owners could not prevent speech on their shopping center sidewalks when the sidewalk functions like a traditional public venue for speech; something obviously true of Twitter. Taylor simply wants to apply existing law to the now very important and unregulated public venue of the internet. The case is an obvious next step for Free Speech except that there is huge political pressure to control Internet speech and content.
Twitter is not claiming Taylor said anything offensive on his account. They are purging his account because they think (incorrectly) that he has some sort of "association" with violent extremist groups. They never asked Taylor, they just terminated their contract with him. On December 18, 2017 Twitter purged hundreds of other users too, an ironic move for a company that 5 years ago claimed to be “the free speech wing of the free speech party.”
Twitter attempted to justify its new policy in a company blog, “If an account’s profile information includes a violent threat or multiple slurs, epithets, racist or sexist tropes, incites fear, or reduces someone to less than human, it will be permanently suspended,” a definition as vague as it is politically correct. Ironically, Twitter seems to use algorithms to police internet content.
"Olinda Hassan, Policy Manager for Twitter Trust and Safety is quoted as explaining, "we’re trying to 'down rank'… shitty people to not show up," using machine learning. "We’re working [that] on right now."
To be fair to Twitter, there is huge political pressure on internet companies to censor what people are allowed to say or hear. The governments of Germany and Britain have both specifically threatened American companies.
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas warned of legal action against Facebook British Home Secretary Amber Rudd recently promised Silicon Valley Tech companies of “new laws to clamp down on extremist content if they do not take action themselves.” Read more
Self-censorship is the most effective form of censorship and, as a response to German and British threats, the corporations are leaping toward self-censorship. YouTube is going politically correct with a vengeance, relying on the leftist (and inaccurate) Southern Poverty Law Center as its advisor on "hate groups." Amazon has pulled hundreds of suspect books from its pages. Twitter has thrown hundreds of customers off the Net.
The Left, which used to rage against censorship, blacklisting, and corporate power, has ignored this spate of blacklisting and censorship and now seems to support the rights of big corporations to refuse service to the public. The Left is concentrating on alleged Russian interference in the election, via the internet, rather than actual German interference with the rights of the American public to use the internet.
The fact is that every American, and all people concerned with freedom of speech and freedom of information, owe Jared Taylor and his brave attorneys a shout of thanks.
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|Title:||Who Controls the Internet?|
|First posted on CODOH:||March 8, 2018, 11:10 p.m.|