What Are Your Rights? Social Media Censorship

A number of large companies have vowed to pull advertisements from sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and they’re alleging that the social media giants have failed to take sufficient action to curb hate speech. What prompted this boycott of the different social media platforms? Attorney Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP helps explain the issue on CBS6.

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Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding and Mazzotti.

Interviewer: A number of large companies have vowed to pull advertisements from sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and they’re alleging that the social media giants have failed to take sufficient action to curb hate speech. Managing partner of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, Paul Harding, we’ll start off with the first question here, what prompted this boycott of the different social media platforms?

Paul: So the advertisers are getting together and they’re saying, “Wow, we’re getting heat from the public, right, we’re getting heat on both sides of the public, we need to do something. They’re gonna boycott our services.” So they then collectively got together and said, “Social media, you need to do something, or we’re gonna be pulling our ads from you.”

So what they’re saying is this, listen, this hate speech, right, no clear definition of what that is, but we know when we see it kind of thing, we need that removed from your sites or we’re gonna remove our advertising from our sites and that is the crux of it.

Interviewer: Can social media sites like Facebook and Twitter actually regulate and censor content? Because, I think a lot of people would ask, what about their First Amendment right?

Paul: You know, there’s always been some sense that you can’t say or do anything, right? The classic Supreme Court case you can’t say fire in a crowded movie theater. If there’s not a fire, not free speech, you’re gonna get in trouble for that. But the difference here is this. These are private companies, you actually opt-in to social media, you signed about a three-page document that you’ve never read. You say, “I agree,” and you’ve agreed that you’re going to play by their rules.

Interviewer: How do you see all of this playing out, and do you think there’s going to be any sort of intervention from the government?

Paul: There’s gonna be some rules, and there’s gonna be some conversation. And so we’re gonna be watching this very closely.

Interviewer: All right, if you wanna know more about your rights on this topic, go to the ‘What Are Your Rights?’ section under the Community tab of our website that cbs6albany.com.

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