Censorship Didn’t Start With Social Media
The FCC has been regulating broadcast content since, well the birth of the FCC in 1934. To this day it is still not possible to utter a word of profanity on public television without repercussions.
In 1941, President Roosevelt created an Office of Censorship just before the U.S. officially entered Would War II. This office not only had sweeping powers to regulate content, but it could actually arbitrarily shut offending radio stations. The goal of this office was to prevent misinformation, propaganda, or anything that could cause a clear and present danger to America.
More recently, during the Iraq War, President George W. Bush ordered that news content be masked if it potentially revealed troop movement and location. The military didn’t cherry pick — if your story had deemed sensitive, the entire thing was censured.
Very recently, Trump himself ordered gag orders against the EPA and the CDC, prohibiting the use of certain words and phrases — this was further attempted with news networks themselves when he actually tried to censor them on the basis of “fake news.” It didn’t work.
The First Amendment is supposed to — though it has routinely been violated — prevent any censorship imposed by law, but it does not protect against corporate censorship.
Corporate censorship is as old as corporations, and Donald Trump is far from being the first victim of it. In fact, the former President didn’t lose a job, or any money — he just lost his social media accounts. Oftentimes, for the normal citizen, corporate censorship can be career ending. However, the corporate censorship against the ex-president has done little to curb his unwavering, confederate flag waving, supporters. Even without social media, Trump still has many other venues for broadcasting his messages; Fox News to name one.
Facebook and Twitter are businesses, and one of their users was promoting content that was full of lies, hatred, and incited violence against specific people. If they didn’t block that content, they could be held liable for knowingly allowing it to be distributed on their platforms — when someone actually died, they simply had to act.
This isn’t complicated.
I had my Twitter account suspended for 5 months because I copied and pasted the same comment more than four times. While I received an apology from Twitter for the mix up, I never had an independent panel review the legality of my case. I guess it’s good to be the King.