Big Tech nerds in hot water

No matter the outcome, Donald J. Trump’s lawsuit against the so-called social media Big Tech companies is bound to have worldwide implications.

These media networks enjoy worldwide reach. Not only with their users but, much more importantly, with their business partners. Their dealings, both visible and invisible, amount to huge chunks of money. Having these amounts coming in or not will definitely make a world of difference for the Big Tech gang.

A number of governments around the world are either enacting or about to enact laws that will punish social media providers for any attempts to censor their users’ freedom of expression. The idea is to hit the Big Tech companies where it hurts them the most: right in their wallets.

Should President Donald J. Trump prevail in the U.S., many other governments are bound to follow suit. They will use the American verdict as a precedent, even though their countries’ constitutions do not include such articles like the First Amendment.

Here it is, in full: 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.

The social media clan claim they are not the U.S. Congress and, thus, while the First Amendment is definitely an interesting piece of reading material, it fails to bind them to anything.

Well, they are irritating a snake barefoot.

This is not to compare President Trump to a snake, this is to describe the Big Tech big bosses’ behaviour.

Lawyers’ paradise

The heated debate about what does and what does not apply to individual business concerns so far as the American Constitution goes has been raging for quite some time.

Such as: if a business bars a potential customer because s/he is not wearing a face mask, even when the customer provides a notice from her/his physician explaining the need for such an exemption, is it discrimination based on medal or health condition? Can such businesses do whatever they want on their premises because they are private entities? If yes, what are the authorities to do if they refuse to serve black females, a discrimination based on skin colour (race, that is), and gender?

In the case of the Big Tech gurus, they seem to have forgotten that they are acting with the sanction of the government.

As American economist Martin Armstrong puts it: this is similar to a situation where you hire someone to kill somebody else and you claim in court that you did not kill anyone.

Here’s the legal reply: the assassin did so under your orders so you are still liable for the murder.

And that’s precisely President Trump’s point of departure.

The social media enjoy immunity from legal liability. They received this from the government. Meaning: they are state actors, bound by the First Amendment when they engage in selective political censorship.

And that they make no secret of engaging in selective censorship that kills free speech is perfectly obvious, too.

In legal lingo, U.S. Section 242 of Title 18 describes a person as a criminal whenever s/he acts under colour of any law and wilfully deprives a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

In addition, Section 230 neither authorises nor permits censorship of political speech. Neither will you be able to find any notion that it authorises or permits cancelling a user’s access or posts just because they were against something the social media view as legitimate. That includes vaccines, inoculations in general, as well as Dr. Anthony Fauci.

No, Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act of 1996 does not pre-empt any such state laws. And no, it does not shield Big Tech 100 per cent from any lawsuits.

It’s the word “decency” that’s important here. Big Tech does not have to fear civil liability suits regarding the censorship of sexually obscene or excessively violent material. In this context, strangely, posts that glorify sexual perversions, including paedophilia, seem to be perfectly safe.

What the Big Tech social media companies have been doing used to be the trademark of authoritarian regimes, from communism through fascism, nazism, all the way to social democracy. The idea is to silence all opposition. Note, too, that political speech and cultural commentary have been only rarely found to be sexually obscene or excessively violent.

President Trump calls the entire Section 230 unconstitutional. Many legal minds, even those that do not necessarily support President Trump, agree that the section really does not meet the test of constitutionality when viewed in the context of pure censorship.

Martin Armstrong, the U.S. economist, has done the work here, finding the appropriate parts of Section 230:

(b) Policy

It is the policy of the United States—

(1) to promote the continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer services and other interactive media;

(2) to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation;

(3) to encourage the development of technologies which maximize user control over what information is received by individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and other interactive computer services;

(4) to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children’s access to objectionable or inappropriate online material; and

(5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment by means of computer.

A warning shot

In 2019, YouTube and its mom and dad, Google, had to pay $170 million to settle a joint lawsuit, filed by the State of New York and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The social media network, the lawsuit alleged, violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA). A new set of rules would emerge as a result of the settlement. They all mention protection of children, not censorship of political views (and political personalities who express them).

The rich Big Tech nerds have something else coming.

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One thought on “Big Tech nerds in hot water

  1. Hairstyles January 28, 2022 at 11:52 Reply

    I do agree with all of the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They’re very convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are too short for newbies. Could you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

    Like

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