Trump’s Free Speech

Donald Trump has announced a lawsuit against the major social media companies.  His suit contends that his freedom of speech was curtailed when tech companies canceled his accounts following the January 6th intersection.  I will let CBS news give you the current status and deal with some important information.  

Now, Trump has claimed to file a class action lawsuit. This means he must find a group of people willing to join him with the same problem. This would include people who have been banned from these platforms for similar reason. Some may say this is easy so let us look at the argument from the Trump perspective only.

Pro-Trump

  • Trump’s ability to speak to his audience was canceled by the major social media outlets.  It is clear that he was censored by the social media companies.  
  • Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and a few others control the vast portion of the American social media audience. Amazon, Google, and Apple control much of the ability to host competitive channels and the ability to collect funds.  Together they acted in unison to block his ability to speak. Coordinating activities across large corporations is an anti-trust violation.  One could argue that the companies colluded to block Trump’s message.  
  • Trump further argues that the company’s algorithms (the programs that choose which messages you see) were biased against conservative messages.  He would argue that the systems were designed to push liberal ideas.  
  • These companies are clearly against traditional American values because they are run by the liberal elite.  

Anti-Trump

  • The First Amendment (freedom of speech) is limited to government control over speech.  If the government inhibits your ability to talk, it run counter the First Amendment.  If I tell you to shut up, it does not.  
  • The big social media companies are entitled to their own free speech.  Forcing a company to carry a message (particularly a government message) runs counter to their rights of free expression.  
  • The internet is filled with competitors ready to carry messages.  There is no reason to control a functioning competitive market.  
  • Social media companies earn money by providing the audience with messages that keep you around.  If they give you messages you do not like, you leave and the company loses money.  It runs counter to their interests to misguide messages.  
  • The companies are some of the largest in America.  They are publically traded and must answer to stockholders, banks, and the market.  They have investments in many fields other than the media.  Clearly, they are conservative in nature.  

The Choice.  

There is a line between speech and action.  One could argue your free speech right to jump up in a crowded theater and say, “This show supports abortion and I am leaving.” It is action to jump up in a crowded theater and falsely say, “This place is on FIRE. Run for your lives.” Sherman (2021) provides a timeline of what Trump said. The question is, did Trump express an opinion, or did he make a call to action?   

Sources

Segers, G. and Sganga, N. (2021). Trump sues Facebook and Twitter for banning his accounts after January 6 attack. CBS News.  https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-sues-facebook-twitter-first-amendment/

Sherman, A. (2021). A timeline of what Trump said before Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Politifact. https://www.politifact.com/article/2021/jan/11/timeline-what-trump-said-jan-6-capitol-riot/

Copyright 2021, Modern Media Barn

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