Lex, Rex

Social Media Bias and How To Fix It

Friday, March 29, 2019 • Gary Fox • Social Media
They Can't Have Their Cake and Eat It Too...
Social Media Bias and How To Fix It

I'm not going to take time linking to stories proving the overt bias in social media and the way in which Christians/conservatives/libertarians/nationalists are shadow banned, censored and often times outright banned over expressing their right-wing moral and political views. It's so rampant that there's just no doubt that it is happening. It's blatant, constant and undeniable.

It's a big time issue and would take you no more than 2 minutes to verify.

Social media at one point was what the internet was supposed to be about. It connects people and keeps them in touch unlike anything in human history. Think about that. Part of "connecting" of course is "sharing". Sharing pictures, mile markers, hurts, victories and big announcements are all part of it. So is sharing thoughts, opinions, ideas, philosophies, morality, religious worldviews and political positions. This was the beauty and genius of social media. Having the ability to connect with others by expressing ourselves intellectually and emotionally in a way that we may not be comfortable doing in immediate social settings is just fantastic. This openness allows you to get to know what make me tick a bit more clearly, and I can get a track on you and your thinking as well simply by observing how you post. Social media has the amazing potential to help people better "connect" with others by making them more comfortable to "share".

I love the idea, count me in! I think it's cool.

Big tech no longer wants us to connect. Understand that. They want us to go back to yesteryear when openly sharing thoughts about religion and politics in public was frowned upon and considered impolite. "Connecting" is still the buzzword they use, but they don't want us to really connect anymore. They want us to censor ourselves and if we won't censor ourselves, they'll just censor us themselves. This is especially true for conservative Christians; they don't want non-Christian, non-traditional and/or liberal people "connecting" with us. I can't say for sure why that is, but I certainly suspect they don't like our uncanny ability to convert openminded people. Whatever the reason, they want to stifle that potential for "connection".

Let's get this straight before we proceed…Private companies have the right to determine the way they operate; they have the right to set the rules and nobody has the right to hijack the sites these companies have created. Take for example our Christ Is King Ministries website. This website is ours. We paid for the domain. We paid for the development. We pay for the hosting. It's not yours, it's ours. We own it. You don't have the right to publish on the site and if we do give access to someone in order for them to publish an article, we maintain the right to take it down if we don't like it. This site is ours; we own it. Facebook has the right to censor their site, as does Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, LinkedIN…whoever! The same goes for newspapers, magazines, book publishers, tv networks and radio stations as well. Companies have the right to tailor their sites any way they wish. This is America and private ownership of property ought to still be sacrosanct.

So that's it? Social media companies have own their sites which they own, therefore have the right to censor them as they wish, and conservatives and Christians can just go pound sand if they don't like it?

Not so fast.

The "free market" response would be totally fine IF social media operated within a free market…but they don't. The Congress has carved out a very special exemption for them that no other publisher in this country enjoys. It's Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Internet companies, blogs and outfits which have become known as "social media" are not treated as "publishers" by law. Instead, the law has a new category referred to as "public forums" or "platforms". All that means is that while they do contain content, they are not content creators OR editors. They are simply providing a "public forum and public platform" for others to "publish" their content on. As "platforms" they are not overseeing the content or making any editorial oversight other than ensuring crimes are not being committed on their "public forums" or "platforms".

That designation and resulting legal protection changes things when it comes to thinking about how "free market" dynamics should apply here. Up until the last two years or so, social media and other online platforms have abided by this agreement. They prohibited illegal activity from being conducted using their services. Eventually they began expanding those narrow parameters and started to include otherwise lawful expressions of racism. Stuff like that began to be referred to as "hate speech". And since so few Americans are racists, few minded. But even that was a breach of their designation as "platforms". Once they waded into those waters, they suddenly began to assume content publishing responsibilities. And of course, the umbrella of what they consider "hate speech" has expanded tremendously lately and includes far more than just racism. Nowadays if you criticize the immorality of the gay lifestyle or if you "misgender" someone by referring to them by the gender God gave them when He assigned their biological sex or if you espouse what the establishment considers a conspiracy theory you are engaging in prohibited "hate speech" or "bullying". Each of the big social media corporations now have LEGIONS of full time editors scanning their sites for "hate speech", reviewing complaints of "hate speech" and censoring their sites when they believe they have found someone publishing it.

And that's FINE, but they need to give up the shielding of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act if that's how they want to run their sites. They can't have it both ways, but as of now they do. They are either publishers who are legally responsible for the content on their sites and can be sued for libel just like any other publisher, or they are "public forums" or "platforms" who are not responsible for the otherwise legal content on their sites. It's either one or the other.

Congress must amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immediately and clarify that any online company who enjoys this liability protection must honor the 1st Amendment in return. If they are a protected public forum then they must act like the public square. That is more than a fair trade off for the American people who are providing them this legal shielding after all. Again, they do not need to agree to such terms and that is fine. They have the right to censor the content on their sites, they have the absolute right to do that. But we the American people do not need to provide them extra liability exemption that no other publisher in the country enjoys. Newspapers aren't exempt from legal action for materials they publish, no content publisher is! If social media companies are going to enjoy libel shielding, claiming they are a "public forum" then they must be forced to allow their platform to function like a town square. If they want to use editorial discretion regarding what they will allow to be broadcast on their sites, then they are not a public forum and should not be shielded from liabilities associated with publishing content.

Why are we letting them have their cake and eat it to? That's crazy.

I'm not calling for government corrosion, get that right. The government has no business busting the doors down of ANY private company and demanding they operate in a certain way (other than in compliance with the same laws which apply to all). What I am saying is we must let THE COMPANIES decide what they are and then let the law apply to them accordingly. If they are a public forum that honors free speech (i.e. does not punish certain speech with bans, shadow bans, algorithm games) then we can in good faith apply the protections laid out in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to them. If they are not comfortable allowing just anything to be stated on their sites (which is understandable! Truly nasty, hateful things are none the less lawful under the 1st Amendment) then that is fine! Again, that's how newspapers, tv, radio and magazines all operate and have operated for 100 years or more! But in that case, there's no reason to apply Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to them. Why should we? Why should they get such protection when no other publisher does?

Leave the ball in their court. Tell us what you are, you can't be both. This isn't hard to figure out.

There's no need to commandeer them. No need to break them up. No need to regulate them like utilities. Just make them decide if they are public forum and platform or if they are a publisher and then proceed accordingly. Leave it up to the users to censor content they don't like. Leave the block options in place for people. Allow them to block content creators who are saying things they disdain, allow them to block certain words from ever even popping up on their feeds. There's nothing wrong with allowing the end users the ability to control the ideas and content they expose themselves to…that's how the public square works! In the public square you have the right to speak and I have the right to not listen to you.

Do that and I promise you the problem with conservatives and Christians being censored will be SOLVED instantly. There's no social media company in this country willing to give up Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act…it's the secret to their success! Take that away and they might as well shut their sites down.

Scriptures: Psalms 106:3

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