Thursday, January 29, 2015

Free speech in a private market

Most political speech happens online. We use our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts to be watchdogs of the government and share our opinions, predictions and solutions surrounding politics. For example this was my tweet today:

Tbh I'd rather watch congress than the real housewives

In colonial times, I would shout this from the public green at the passing powdered wigs and petticoats to communicate my message about the melodramatic and inefficient nature of Congress. I'd have that freedom because constitutionally, through the first amendment, the government can't prevent political speech.

But today our political speech happens outside the public green. It happens on social media platforms, many of which are corporations traded on the stock market. Like other private media –think A&E and the "Duck Dynasty" fiasco last year – my right to free speech is not guaranteed. My free speech rights only go as far as the user agreement.

Moving forward, I think social media should be viewed as "sidewalks" where the public can express itself freely and without moderation from the social media platforms. Eventually the constitution should be incorporated into Facebook, Twitter etc., which may change the traditional separation between public and private sectors.

We should incorporate the first amendment into social media. Perhaps more government, essentially more Constitution, would mean more freedom.

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