Across America, one of the biggest issues has been the complex takeover of acceptable speech by technology and media companies. Whether you agree or disagree with the various companies over the past year, it remains unprecedented that a former President of the United States is essentially stricken from the major online platforms. Given that the same President also had the second-most votes cast for him of any presidential candidate in the history of the United States, you can see what a major story that should be.
Censorship has not been limited solely to high-level politicians. No, instead it may be even more pervasive amongst average users, who are often unaware of the way algorithms and secret controls are used to limit their online impact, reach, and even methods to “shadowban” them. We could go through a multitude of personalities that have been affected, political and philosophical viewpoints that have been diminished, and a countless number of average people who are prevented from breaking out into trending communications. Even beyond this, online platforms have set up review boards and councils that are often aligned with particular agendas, which are then used as “unbiased” third party moderators. Given that these processes are almost always privately known and modified in secret, users are unaware of the systems in place to elevate and diminish different viewpoints in mass.
However, anti censorship laws now seem to be on the way in various conservative states.
Led by Florida and Texas, Republican politicians are now working on passing bills into laws that would make it very difficult for companies to ban, censor, or diminish the voices of their users based on the political, religious, and philosophical viewpoints they hold. Other states are expected to follow. And while these laws are almost guaranteed to be tested all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States, they may give large platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, pause when adjusting the scales against viewpoints they loathe. After all, the fines in these bills are not small.
One of the biggest news commentators on YouTube, Tim Pool, has went so far as to say that hey may move his news organization away from his Maryland compound to either Texas, Florida, or another free speech state in order to protect his company from demonetization.
And while Big Tech companies like Facebook and Google are located on the west coast of the United States, if even just the two states of Texas and Florida join together… they easily combine for a larger population than California. These laws would cover a substantial number of Americans, providing them with protections that other citizens do not enjoy. With the internet gaining in power and influence every year, it’s not a crazy assumption to think that people of all political persuasions might be eager to move to so-called free-speech states. Given that other media and tech heavy conservative states would also see potential increases in online entrepreneurs, it’s likely to see Tennessee and North Carolina come on board as well. Georgia might too, but I can only imagine the outcry if they try it.
Critics of these bills say that this is the government overstepping into the realm of corporate policy on speech. Even a single Republican in Florida voted against the bill there, citing that it was an overreach of government’s role. For many conservatives and moderates, however, the bills are seen as necessary to protect them from an increasing web of thought policing online. These laws may also run into significant headwinds given that algorithm reveals to the public – one of the things they might require – would potentially ruin platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, which use them to determine what is shown and to whom. Would big tech companies refuse to operate in Free Speech states? Is that even possible?
Let us know what you think about these bills and their potentially becoming a law in the comments below. Are they warranted or are they overreaching?
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