Speech is free. It’s transmission isn’t.
If one lives in the USA, then one has the right to speak one’s mind without the government punishing one for doing so. That right is enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
What isn’t enshrined in the First Amendment is a right to have someone else transmit one’s speech to the general public. This particular fact seems to be lost to certain people, as a headline from The Hill website reveals.
That story by The Hill begins by saying, “Twitter’s verification program put the company at the center of another political headache this week, with the social media giant stuck between liberals who demand stricter rules about hate speech and misinformation and conservatives who fear the site will target them for their political views.”
The story goes on to say, “Gab — a Twitter rival with laxer content rules that British provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and other fringe right figures have taken to after being banned from Twitter — agreed with calls from some right-wing figures for Twitter to be regulated as a utility.”
Gab is wrong. Twitter isn’t a utility, and it isn’t a government entity. It is a business that provides people with a convenience. To be precise, Twitter works by transmitting written speech that is created by parties outside of Twitter. Someone has to pay for that speech to be transmitted, and that someone is usually the businesses that advertise on Twitter.
Shouldn’t the parties that pay to transmit the speech have a say in what speech is transmitted?
Answer: Yes, absolutely. That is how the free market works.
The business executives who run Twitter have to be sensitive to the desires of Twitter’s advertisers, and if those advertisers don’t want certain speech to be transmitted or verified, then the executives will prevent that speech from being transmitted or verified. That is one of the features of capitalism.
Apparently, certain people will throw a temper tantrum when capitalism and the free market work against them. For example, take a look at this tweet from one disgruntled member of the political Right:
Laura Loomer’s tweet is causing my meter to peg to the far right.
Twitter isn’t preventing people on the political Right from spending their own money to provide themselves with a way to transmit their political speech to the public.
In this case, Twitter’s Right-wing critics are so far out in space that NASA can’t get a radar fix on them.
(Featured Image is in the public domain. Via Wikimedia Commons.)