On Friday, Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos confronted White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest about the censorship many conservatives face on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Earnest responded, and, strangely enough, did not dismiss the idea that some are actually being targeted for their political points of view.
Earnest was surprisingly bullish on Silicon Valley’s need to uphold the ideal of free speech, telling Yiannopoulos that President Obama would be “the first to observe” that the success of social media companies is predicated on protecting the free expression of their users.
It’s a position that places the administration at odds with social media companies, which are increasingly eager to punish their users for offending the wrong groups or, in the case of Facebook, being overly-critical of European refugee policies.
Here’s video of the exchange:
Yiannopoulos, Breitbart said, “asked Earnest if there was anything the administration could do to remind social media companies of the importance of protecting users’ free speech.”
Earnest said, in part:
Obviously, part of what’s built into our system is a respect for private companies to put in place their own policies. But I think the President would be the first one to observe that the success of … social media and some of those social media tools is in fact predicated on the idea of freedom of expression. In fact, many of these tools are so groundbreaking because they give people an opportunity to express themselves in ways that we didn’t previously imagine. It also gives the average person the opportunity to be heard by the world. That’s what makes that kind of technology and those kinds of tools so remarkable, and frankly, what makes them so successful. But as you point out, that is predicated on the important protection of first amendment rights to self-expression.
“We obviously can’t enforce the first amendment on private corporations. But there seems to be a very clear trend; my verification check was taken away for making the wrong jokes about the wrong group of people,” Yiannopoulos said.
“Conservative commentators and journalists are being punished, being suspended, having their tweets deleted by Twitter. Facebook is removing criticism of immigration in Europe. Are there any mechanisms the government can use to remind these companies that they have that responsibility, or do we just have to trust that the market is going to punish them if they don’t?”
Here’s where it got interesting:
“I’m not sure exactly what sort of government policy decision could have any impact on that. There is though a third branch of government, our courts. They’re supposed to be insulated from politics, they’re supposed to be in a position to resolve those kinds of questions. So if there are private citizens who believe their constitutional rights are being violated in some way, they do have an opportunity to address that before a judge in a court of law… But even that is predicated on the idea that our court system is insulated from partisan politics.”
In short, Earnest suggested social media users should sue companies like Facebook and Twitter if they feel they are being targeted for their political points of view.
As we have reported time and again, Facebook has often been accused of abusing its more conservative and anti-terror users through a variety of means, from false posts to idiotic and often contrived claims the user has violated Facebook’s standards.
Back when I first started reporting these abuses, I was laughed at and basically told to go away and leave the site if I didn’t like the way they ran things. Now, it seems the issue is being taken a bit more seriously, especially since Facebook has embarked on a crusade to eliminate what it calls “hate speech,” which is little more than any opinion a liberal might disagree with.
[Note: This is also a good time to remind you, the reader, that Adina Kutnicki, an investigative journalist based in Israel, and I have signed a deal to produce a book dealing with Facebook’s policies and what they have enabled. The book, which has already been endorsed by Prof. Paul Eidelberg, a political scientist, author and lecturer who has written a trilogy on America’s founding fathers, is tentatively set to be available sometime this fall. Facebook, by the way, has yet to respond to our inquiries.]
Kudos to Yiannopoulos for having the courage to ask these questions and helping to bring the issue before the public.
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