UPDATE: I’m adding this new video from YouTuber Styxhexenhammer666 that directly tackles this subject and provides the best argument I have seen in regards to why social media giants are not private companies, in that they receive massive taxpayer subsidies, regularly perform work for the US government (he doesn’t mention this, but they’ve also done a lot of work for other governments around the world, like China), that practically every government agency uses these platforms in some way to reach constituents, as do politicians, ergo, it is unconstitutional and a violation of 1A rights to ban a US citizen from accessing said platforms. F-word language warning:
Facebook, one of the largest social media platforms on the planet, continues to flex it’s muscles in censoring and banning certain individuals from using their public square platform.
Via the very left-wing The Atlantic (who has the gall to call Louis Farrakhan “far-right” now; link will take you to an archived URL, so you’re not giving TA the ad revenue/clicks)
In an effort to contain misinformation and extremism that have spread across the platforms, Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, have banned Alex Jones, Infowars, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, and Paul Nehlen under their policies against dangerous individuals and organizations. They also banned the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has repeatedly made anti-Semitic statements.
The cabal media was quite happy to be in on this, as Paul Joseph Watson stated on Twitter:
The media was tipped off an hour before Facebook banned me. They're in cahoots.
“In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”.
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) May 2, 2019
Laura Loomer’s also not in a very good place with this:
Laura Loomer is now basically making thinly veiled suicide threats because of the way she has been treated. And many on here will laugh. Yet we're the "hateful" ones. OK.
I hope Laura is going to be fine, her friends should check on her.
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) May 2, 2019
PJW and other conservatives on Twitter have been calling for a light to be shined on this, but I really think that for this to go anywhere, those directly affected by the ban must go further. Sure, they might get President Trump to shine a light on it, but aside from maybe directing the FCC to issue a directive or write up an executive order, the banned need to sue Facebook for a violation of their First Amendment rights. This does predicate on the banned person’s citizenship of course; I’m not sure if PJW is or not, but people like Alex Jones and Laura Loomer certain are.
I would also say that there is a strong anti-monopoly case to be made against the likes of Facebook & Google, but I’ll focus mainly on a lawsuit that those directly affected by this should be doing.
I honestly have been perplexed about the reluctance or disinterest of people like Jones to go to court over this – it really is an open/shut case. We’ve also seen over time how futile the argument of “well, just build your own social media site if you don’t like it!” is, as the argument keeps snowballing into “well, just build your own bank…just build your own internet!,” which becomes absurd, to say the least.
While the Supreme Court has not taken on many cases involving social media and speech, they have done so before and unanimously came down on the side of the First Amendment. Let me shine a light on PACKINGHAM v. NORTH CAROLINA from back in 2017. Click here for a link to the full opinion.
The case involved a North Carolina law that was designed to prohibit registered sex offenders from gaining access to all social media, since children use the platform. The Supreme Court came down on the side of the offender, who said that his 1A rights were being violated. While the opinion does mention that the court needed to take care about how the wording was done in it’s ruling as well as in the law that the state passed, they also mentioned some things that I think are very applicable to a case that persons banned from Facebook for their speech can use in their defense.
Justice Kennedy, now retired from the court, delivered the opinion, where I’ll quote some of the more pertinent items, highlighting the most important parts to help your eyes from glazing over (I am also replacing references to other court fights with […]):
“A fundamental First Amendment principle is that all persons have access to places where they can speak and listen, and then, after reflection, speak and listen once more. Today, one of the most important places to exchange views is cyberspace, particularly social media, which offers “relatively unlimited, low-cost capacity for communication of all kinds,” […] to users engaged in a wide array of protected First Amendment activity on any number of diverse topics.”
I.E. You have a right to access social media, ergo, banning violates that right, because it also violates the 1A. Thus to answer the headline of this post, no, Facebook does not have the right, per the view of the Supreme Court, to ban people. This does place a burden on the social media companies, but it’s one they can handle much better than expecting a banned user to build their own social media infrastructure. Later on, the opinion continues:
A basic rule, for example, is that a street or a park is a quintessential forum for the exercise of First Amendment rights. […] Even in the modern era, these places are still essential venues for public gatherings to celebrate some views, to protest others, or simply to learn and inquire.While in the past there may have been difficulty in identifying the most important places (in a spatial sense) for the exchange of views, today the answer is clear. It is cyberspace—the “vast democratic forums of the Internet” in general, […] and social media in particular.
Social media offers “relatively unlimited, low-cost capacity for communication of all kinds.”[…] On Facebook, for example, users can debate religion and politics with their friends and neighbors or share vacation photos. On LinkedIn, users can look for work, advertise for employees, or review tips on entrepreneurship. And on Twitter, users can petition their elected representatives and otherwise engage with them in a direct manner.Indeed, Governors in all 50 States and almost every Member of Congress have set up accounts for this purpose. […] In short, social media users employ these websites to engage in a wide array of protected First Amendment activity on topics “as diverse as human thought.””
I was arguing with an NPC on Twitter about this, who was taking the stance that companies can do whatever they want in regards to free speech. While such a stance has it’s defenders, it runs into a wall when we go way back into history and learn about why the First Amendment was created in the first place. It was not created for comfortable speech. It was not created just to share cat memes. It was created to protect the God-given right for every individual to express themselves. Sometimes that would mean that people would get offended. They would get “fake news.” They would lie and be lied to. We’ve all been given the means to communicate what is on our mind, via talking or writing; in the case of the modern age, filming too. That also means we have the right to counter absurdity when we come across it. But that does not give the social media company the right to silence a user it finds problematic.
I may not be a lawyer, but just by looking at the again unanimous decision of the court in Packingham v. North Carolina, I think that every one banned – which also should include James Woods from Twitter – has an incredibly strong case to make against social media companies who abuse their power to shut down access to the public space and are thus engaged in attempting to shape the opinions of the userbase.