The Pathway to Solving Social Media Censorship – How President Trump Can Take on the Tech Tyrants

Friday, August 24, 2018
By Paul Martin

by J. Burns
August 23, 2018


Remove Protections from Suit for Speech Tyrants

In Tweets over the weekend, President Trump promised he would end ideological censorship on Social Media. As an attorney involved in these questions for years, I have some suggestions on how to do this. Mr. President please instruct Congress to:

1.Eliminate 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(2);
2.Pass new legislation guaranteeing speech freedoms to all users of Social Media, regardless of their political persuasion;
3.Pass new legislation requiring all publicly traded companies with a market capitalization of $10 Billion or more to provide First Amendment speech protections to all employees and product consumers; and
4.Pass new legislation requiring any foreign owned media and/or social media company doing business as such in the US to provide First Amendment speech protections in their US market, as well as their top 5 global markets.

President Trump has a golden opportunity to save and secure free speech on the Internet for the next 50 years.

It Started Long Before the Jihad Against Alex Jones.

As a lawyer, I represented one of the first individuals to be permanently banned by Twitter. In May of 2015, journalist Charles Johnson was banned from Twitter for supposedly threatening bodily harm to Jack Dorsey’s boyfriend, Deray McKesson. McKesson was internet famous in 2015 for leveraging the Ferguson Riots to his own benefit. In reality, Johnson had attempted to doxx Deray. Twitter’s rationale was an absurd pretext that no one actually believed. But Twitter alleged Johnson made their service less safe, and that was that. Twitter/Facebook censors in the name of safety, no matter how ridiculous or attenuated the claim. Charles lost 30,000+ Twitter followers overnight, and with it, his journalism platform and business. Twitter/Facebook have just about perfected their methods for silencing those they dislike , ratcheting-up the effort with bigger and bigger targets. Alex Jones is just biggest and latest personality to be culturally cleansed.

The Government Gives Social Media A License to Censor
The common response to conservatives and others who complain about Twitter/Facebookl s censorship is that the Socials are private businesses which can censor anyone they want. Under this theory, they are private companies that can refuse service to whomever they want.

This is somewhat true, but not because the Socials are private , but because these companies have uniquely been deputized by the federal government to censor speech. In return, the Socials are granted full immunity from lawsuits by Charles Johnson, Alex Jones, and anyone else upset at the arbitrary destruction of their speaking platforms.

The Communications Decency Act (“CDA”) Section 230 (47 U.S.C. § 230), keeps Charles Johnson, Alex Jones, and countless others who could successfully sue Twitter, Facebook and other Socials out of court.

CDA 230 immunizes internet service providers such as Twitter from any legal liability in two contexts. First, Twitter cannot be held liable for the defamatory speech of third party commenters (see 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1)). This is a good thing. Without it, comment boards and social media could not exist, because the website publishers would be sued for every awful thing said on their comment boards.

Second, Twitter cannot be held liable for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material, and may censor speech even if the speech would be constitutionally protected. As long as they try to remove the worst material, they can’t be sued if some slips through.

The Rest…HERE

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