The morality of censorship by non-government entities

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 16, 2018, 7:14 PM | comments: 0

Twitter is in the news for being the last social media company to not pull the toxic trash of some wacky conspiracy theorist. Twitter is the Mos Eisley of social media, frankly, and would be better if it had more cat pictures and less of people posting crap on there. The arguments have been pretty thin, deferring to others to invalidate those who spew nonsense, and asserting lofty ideals around not being the arbiter of legitimate conversation.

I wrote previously about the idea that neutrality is not as essential as truthfulness. Heck, it's not really my idea, it's just one I strongly agree with. But let's create some clarity on two points. First, Twitter is not the government, so those high ideals around free speech don't apply. They can do whatever they want. There is no obligation for free speech when it comes to a private entity's platform. Furthermore, even free speech has consequences. You can't shout fire in a theater, you can be sued for defamation or inciting a riot.

Second, this is not about silencing dissent. There is no slippery slope in this case. When someone suggests that murdered kids are all an act, or there are calls to harass people, that isn't dissent, that's potentially causing harm to people. The difference is clear, and morally unambiguous.

Government is pretty disfunctional, especially with two factions that won't compromise. I get that, and I'm all for that dissenting opinions. Honestly, there isn't much real discussion going on, but dissent is OK and I don't think anyone should get in the way of that. It's not OK to bring harm to others though by way of the things you say, and Twitter is in a position to limit that.

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