Speech and Private Enterprise

Some companies are reaching the conclusion that it’s become necessary to pull advertising from Facebook over the latter’s mishandling of speech, if in many cases they’re misapprehending the types of speech being abused.

The WSJ article at the link led off with this:

Facebook Inc said it would start labeling political speech that violates its rules and take other measures to prevent voter suppression and protect minorities from abuse.

Pick one. Suppressing political speech is suppressing voters.

Furthermore, Zuckerberg is hardly in a position to define “abuse;” his censorship is itself abuse.

There’s also this from a commenter in the article’s comment thread, which illustrates the breadth of the misunderstanding regarding free speech obligations:

Facebook is a private company, and platform. It can do as it pleases so long as you sign off on their terms and conditions agreement….

As a legal matter, sure. However, the principle underlying the injunction against Government abridging the freedom of speech is universal and applies to everyone. Zuckerberg knows this full well, and he knows further from that that he has a moral obligation to actively support free speech as well as to passively not abridge it.

His obligation is expanded by the size and control over political—and other—speech his Facebook has achieved and exercises.

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