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Old 10-10-2021, 01:57 PM   #61
michaelk
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What? In the US the first amendment only protects you against the government, federal and state. In the eyes of the law Facebook and other social media companies are private sector.

Being publicly or privately traded has nothing to do with 1st amendment rights.

Last edited by michaelk; 10-10-2021 at 02:09 PM.
 
Old 10-10-2021, 02:22 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by hazel View Post
How can people not see that this is self-contradictory?
Partly because it may suit their interests to alternate between arguing for either position depending on the circumstances.

"If I get banned, it's an egregious free speech violation. If you get banned, then you shouldn't have said whatever you said because the company can do whatever it wants."

But there is a legitimate issue that could possibly confuse some people and muddy the waters: A forum may have a specific purpose, and hence some communication may be declared off-topic. It's not a violation of anyone's rights if a small knitting web site doesn't allow its users to debate vaccines, Star Trek, or Donald Trump.
 
Old 10-10-2021, 02:41 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by michaelk View Post
What? In the US the first amendment only protects you against the government, federal and state. In the eyes of the law Facebook and other social media companies are private sector.
Here's the actual text of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
Quote:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Note the term "the freedom of speech." What does that mean? What did the people who actually wrote these words and passed them into law, want to protect?

They believed that the right to publicly voice one's opinion is one of several inalienable human rights. That's why congress "shall make no law" to curtail this freedom. It is also why the U.S. has ratified several human rights treaties.

The constitutional amendment doesn't say that "congress shall make laws protecting freedom of speech," because that's considered the default. The belief in the concept of "human rights" is why the government is obliged to come to your aid when such rights are threatened. Why else would the police be protecting marches and protesters, instead of simply telling them to stop being a public nuisance? After all, the counterprotesters aren't sent by the government.

The entire point of "Human Rights" is that no-one is allowed to curtail them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelk View Post
Being publicly or privately traded has nothing to do with 1st amendment rights.
That's entirely correct if you don't believe in the concept of Human Rights, and instead consider rights as something granted to you by the government in their benevolence.
 
Old 10-10-2021, 03:37 PM   #64
michaelk
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I know what it is written.

Facebook can censor people and it is not a US 1st amendment right violation.
 
Old 10-10-2021, 03:59 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by michaelk View Post
Facebook can censor people and it is not a US 1st amendment right violation.
The courts have not ruled on this matter, and there are both legal opinions and case law that support either side of the argument.

But regardless of the 1st amendment, censoring legal content is by definition the abridging of the right to free speech, and if the effect of the censorship is severe enough, it is a violation of a human rights treaty to which the U.S. is a signatory.

(Not that anyone cares about these treaties, but still.)
 
Old 10-10-2021, 04:21 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by michaelk View Post
Facebook can censor people and it is not a US 1st amendment right violation.
Exactly right. People are blurring the line between public and private and that needs to stop.
 
Old 10-10-2021, 04:29 PM   #67
Ser Olmy
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Originally Posted by rkelsen View Post
Exactly right. People are blurring the line between public and private and that needs to stop.
I assume this principle applies to the rest of the rights listed in the 1st amendment as well?

As in: Congress may not put limits on your speech or the freedom of the press, nor may they hinder you from starting a religious organization or prevent you from worshipping, nor may they prevent you from peacefully assembling or asking the government for a redress of grievances, but it is perfectly OK if a private entity, like your employer or your landlord or some social media giant, prevents you from doing all these things?
 
Old 10-10-2021, 04:43 PM   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ser Olmy View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkelsen View Post
Exactly right. People are blurring the line between public and private and that needs to stop.
I assume this principle applies to the rest of the rights listed in the 1st amendment as well?

As in: Congress may not put limits on your speech or the freedom of the press, nor may they hinder you from starting a religious organization or prevent you from worshipping, nor may they prevent you from peacefully assembling or asking the government for a redress of grievances, but it is perfectly OK if a private entity, like your employer or your landlord or some social media giant, prevents you from doing all these things?
I think you've finally got it! That took a while.
 
Old 10-10-2021, 04:59 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by rkelsen View Post
I think you've finally got it! That took a while.
Your position is ... interesting. Unreasonable and in clear violation of treaties signed by the U.S. Government, but interesting.

Here's what it means if your extremely narrow interpretation was to be applied:

Let's assume Sam Jones believes, correctly, that he's been racially discriminated against when not being given a promotion at his place of work. He's a government employee, so he decides to sue to "petition the government for a redress of grievances."

On the first day of the trial, the Ku Klux Klan (a private organization) decides to rally their members (all 8000 or so of them, nationwide) to travel to Sam's city and drive slowly around while a passenger repeatedly calls "Dial-a-Grand-Wizard" on his cellphone. This causes a massive traffic jam, and no-one can get through on the phone.

Sam doesn't get to court on time, and in his absence the judge rules in the plaintiff's favor on a motion to dismiss. And no-ones rights were violated.

Last edited by Ser Olmy; 10-10-2021 at 05:02 PM.
 
Old 10-10-2021, 05:12 PM   #70
rkelsen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ser Olmy View Post
Your position is ... interesting.
Your position is interesting to me.

Are you saying that private businesses should not have access to things like Non-Disclosure Agreements? Or that supermarkets should not have the right to evict people spruiking for their competitors?
 
Old 10-10-2021, 06:16 PM   #71
rkelsen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hedron View Post
Twitter is a public square, according to its CEO.
A 'public square' with terms and conditions to which you must agree before you can enter? If you disagree with their terms and conditions, then you can only stand on the outside and look in.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hedron View Post
The internet as a whole, is a public square.
Over here, there is no way to connect to the internet without using an internet service provider (ISP). The ISPs all have terms and conditions over the service that they provide, and you must agree to be bound by those terms and conditions in order to use their service.

So, while you're correct on a "theoretical" level, it seems to be quite different logistically.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hedron View Post
I don't know who the owner of this website is, but I would not consider linuxquestions to be a public square since it has a very specific purpose.
That's an interesting take. Why do you think one particular internet forum is different to others?
Quote:
Originally Posted by hedron View Post
Rules and laws have already been laid out for public squares, and you can't just evict someone because you don't like their opinion. Which, let's be clear, Twitter and Facebook are doing just that.
But they're not "public squares," no matter what their marketing might say. They're private spaces. By the time you're allowed in, you'll already have agreed to at least two sets of terms and conditions governing your conduct whilst you are there.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hedron View Post
Further, Twitter, Google, Facebook, and others, are not private companies. I see this falsehood being repeated over and over again. They are publicly traded companies on the stock exchange and therefor are not subject to the same freedoms as a private company would.
This statement tells me that either your education did not include any commerce studies or that you fundamentally misunderstand how these things work.

Public companies != public sector. While public companies might choose to operate in the public sector, Facebook and Twitter certainly do not.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hedron View Post
But rules and laws are built around protecting big business (which are mostly public) and squashing small business (which are mostly private), so that's partly why said companies get away with what they do.
You should find out who benefits most from donations to political parties by "big business."
 
Old 10-10-2021, 06:32 PM   #72
Ser Olmy
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Originally Posted by rkelsen View Post
Are you saying that private businesses should not have access to things like Non-Disclosure Agreements? Or that supermarkets should not have the right to evict people spruiking for their competitors?
Instead of moving the goalposts by ascribing positions to me (using the rhetorical "are you saying" manoeuvre), why don't we address the main issue?

In the thought experiment above, were rights violated, or were they not?

My position is that the law acknowledges certain rights as inalienable, and that's why historically, the government has quite often intervened in disputes between private parties to prevent those rights from being violated. You're free to take the diametrically opposite position if you so choose, but let's at least be clear about it and say that in that case, there are no "human rights" and you're only free to the extent the state allows you to be.

But back to social media and to the "private businesses" argument:

Facebook is a publicly traded company. It is owned by it's shareholders (Mark Zuckerberg being the majority shareholder), and it's answerable to the government in any number of ways through a myriad of laws and regulations: They can't decide to arbitrarily withhold taxes from the state or paychecks from their employees, they can't dump toxic waste in the environment, they can't advocate for the violent overthrow of the government, they can't do insider speculation buying and selling their own stock using non-public information, and the list goes on and on.

Private companies absolutely can NOT do "whatever they want." That's never been the case. The question is, what can they do?

Facebook has rules. Fine, as long as they are clearly defined (which they absolutely are not, but that's another matter). Facebook is subject to pressure from the public and activist groups to prohibit certain types of legal speech. Also fine, people are allowed to hold and express opinions.

But: Facebook is also the subject of direct, overt pressure from Congresspeople to censor certain speech, speech that Congress is expressly prohibited from censoring by the 1st amendment, or else face regulation to possibly break them up. That is not fine at all, because not only are the Congresspeople in question violating the law, but now Facebook is acting as the extended arm of Congress. The latter makes them a state actor in the eyes of the law (yes, there's plenty of precedent for this), and that in turn should make them subject to the limitations of the 1st amendment.

There's also the "public square" argument, which may hold more merit than you think. Because what "the public square" is, varies over time.

Example: In the 1940s, news in the form of moving images was distributed using newsreels that were shown in movie theaters. Today, it's TV, social media, and the Internet in general. Banning someone from showing a newsreel in the 1940s would clearly be censoring the press. But banning a news organization from doing this today, while still technically illegal, would have no effect whatsoever.

Conversely, banning a news organization from Facebook and YouTube has the same effect of stifling speech as banning newsreels in the 1940s. The fact that technically, they could still make newsreels and show them in theaters, would be entirely irrelevant. That's just not how news is disseminated today, because that's not how you reach people with your message.

If "anything goes" as long as it happens on private property, regardless of that property's size or the consequences to the public at large from the actions being performed, then the 1st amendment is meaningless. A state could decide to sell all public land to a private company and then lease it back, and have the private company enforce any laws or "terms of service" they wanted. It would then all be private, but does that mean you would then have no rights?
 
Old 10-10-2021, 07:57 PM   #73
rkelsen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ser Olmy View Post
Instead of moving the goalposts by ascribing positions to me
Nice way to dodge the question.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ser Olmy View Post
In the thought experiment above, were rights violated, or were they not?
Thought experiment? I only see a straw man.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ser Olmy View Post
My position is that the law acknowledges certain rights as inalienable, and that's why historically, the government has quite often intervened in disputes between private parties to prevent those rights from being violated.
We see police forcefully evicting people from private property every day. Whose rights are they protecting? Possession is 9/10ths right?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ser Olmy View Post
You're free to take the diametrically opposite position if you so choose, but let's at least be clear about it and say that in that case, there are no "human rights" and you're only free to the extent the state allows you to be.
What was that you said about ascribing views?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ser Olmy View Post
Facebook has rules. Fine, as long as they are clearly defined (which they absolutely are not, but that's another matter).
You're kidding, right? https://www.facebook.com/terms.php
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ser Olmy View Post
But: Facebook is also the subject of direct, overt pressure from Congresspeople to censor certain speech, speech that Congress is expressly prohibited from censoring by the 1st amendment, or else face regulation to possibly break them up.
Is it really? Or is this just another sensational beat-up by the Murdoch press?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ser Olmy View Post
Conversely, banning a news organization from Facebook and YouTube has the same effect of stifling speech as banning newsreels in the 1940s.
Haha... That's some bow you're drawing!

Actions have consequences. People need to take responsibility for their own actions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ser Olmy View Post
If "anything goes" as long as it happens on private property, regardless of that property's size or the consequences to the public at large from the actions being performed, then the 1st amendment is meaningless.
Straw men everywhere!

I'm not coming back to this thread. Good luck.

Last edited by rkelsen; 10-10-2021 at 08:22 PM.
 
Old 10-10-2021, 08:37 PM   #74
Ser Olmy
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Originally Posted by rkelsen View Post
Nice way to dodge the question.
I didn't, I answered it right below. On the other hand, I don't see you answering any of my questions. Not that you're required to, but then why reply to me at all?
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkelsen View Post
Thought experiment? I only see a straw man.
Then perhaps prescription glasses are in order.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkelsen View Post
We see police forcefully evicting people from private property every day. Whose rights are they protecting? Possession is 9/10ths right?
This has literally nothing to do with the topic. Are you arguing that eviction of tenants prove that private ownership trumps everything? Or are you arguing that since "possession is 9/10ths right" they shouldn't be evicted?
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkelsen View Post
What was that you said about ascribing views?
Is me saying "if you choose" a form of ascribing that view to you? You could just have said "I don't think that describes my viewpoint," and that would have been that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkelsen View Post
You're kidding, right? https://www.facebook.com/terms.php
You're just proving my point. I never said the terms were inaccessible, but that they were unclear.

Can you tell me the exact definition of "harmful conduct" in this context? How do one harm someone else with words that are not (illegal) threats or (illegal) incitement to violence?

The terms contain a link to their "Community Standards", and they are no better. For instance:
"We are committed to making Facebook a safe place. Expression that threatens people has the potential to intimidate, exclude or silence others and isnít allowed on Facebook."
Well, threats and harassment (mentioned further down the page) are illegal anyway, but how do you "exclude" others? Refuse a friend request?

Or how about "silencing"? Are you allowed to block people? Can you say that someone really should be quiet? Or that a group of people ought to stop denigrating others?

And which statement does not have "the potential to intimidate" someone?

This is vague enough to cover everything and nothing at the same time. And that's by design.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkelsen View Post
Actions have consequences. People need to take responsibility for their own actions.

Straw men everywhere!
Empty rhetoric and slogans are not arguments. You are not acting in good faith, my friend.

I suggest we just agree to disagree and leave it at that.
 
Old 10-10-2021, 09:45 PM   #75
enorbet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkelsen View Post
Exactly right. People are blurring the line between public and private and that needs to stop.
Actually it is my regarded opinion those terms need to have their definitions updated. If nothing else (and there is LOTS more) the revelations of people like Mr. Snowden have demonstrated that a great deal that people thought were private, are now public. This can also be seen in the movement to treat corporations as individuals in terms of rights but less so in responsibilities.
 
  


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