The big question is, well, who decides?

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have locked Donald Trump’s accounts after hundreds of rioters stormed the US Capitol building in a last ditch effort to keep him as President.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, declared an “emergency situation” and removed Mr Trump’s ability to post on both of its services, while Twitter revoked his special protections as an elected world leader and said it would ban him if he broke its rules again.

Both companies were responding to posts and a video in which Mr Trump told his supporters to “go home” but praised them as “great patriots” and repeated he groundless claims about a “stolen” election that sparked the protests. YouTube also removed the video.

They’re private businesses, so of course they do.

15 thoughts on “The big question is, well, who decides?”

  1. Laws constrain private businesses too. It is illegal, and rightly so, for a business to refuse service to anyone on the grounds of their colour or sex, and in my view it should also be illegal to do the same on the grounds of political orientation.

  2. No, it should be legal to refuse service on any grounds, including colour or sex.

    Just as it’s legal for customers to refuse to do business with bigots.

  3. Joe will try to bring in more Social Media policing to stop a future Trump (or Trump like) presidential bid. The Democrat’s are stupid enough to think they’ll get away with this. It’s one thing not to like your opponents politics, it’s another to try to silence them to stop them being elected.

  4. “No, it should be legal to refuse service on any grounds, including colour or sex.”

    It helps to turn the question the other way round. There is no such thing as “rights”, except as a technical legal term. There are only obligations. Should you be obliged to exert yourself in service of something against your will? Why should one be obliged to disseminate opinions you don’t agree with?
    It’s always been an inherent problem with the “Free Stuff Army” mentality that pervaded the internet. That because someone’s giving away services for “nothing”, they’re under an obligation to give you stuff free for nothing.

  5. Boganboy: ’ I’m imagining the screams of outrage and howls about free speech if they did that to Joe Biden.’

    Wow, you’ve got a great imagination- I literally cannot conceive of that ever happening!

  6. Trump tried to stop leftist evil by peaceful means. If that has failed then what remains is violent conflict. Legalism has proved useless so force is all that remains. Or submission to Marxist evil and an attempt Chicom ruled 21st century. Better atomic war frankly.

  7. It’s interesting this. We all agree that monopolies are bad, and that the consequence of a monopoly is that the consumer gets overcharged for what will inevitably be a deteriorating service. This was the basis of the anti-trust laws, and this is why the railways (in the US), oil companies and telecoms providers were broken up.

    However, with the FBs, Twitters and Googles of this world, we cannot apply the same logic. The consumer doesn’t pay anything (well, at least not cash) and the service of social networks actually improves the more of a monopoly it achieves (the network effect – the service is worth more the more of your contacts are on it). If we force the monopoly social media to break up, then the service they provide will be worse and so there is an argument to say that this is not in the consumer’s interest.

    Nonetheless, it remains the case that monopolies are bad, that the social networks are monopolies and when they ban members (customers?) on their own network, it’s not just their own business. We can intuitively feel that something is wrong with the current state of affairs, but it is not at all clear what to do about it.

    Perhaps it is time for a new social network to be set up, which honestly declares that it gains its revenues from selling on, or otherwise making use of each new member’s data, and then actually pays the member for access to that data? We might then achieve a free market where each user could weigh up the value of data released versus price paid by the network. So one network could take a lot of your data, but pay more, and another could take the opposite approach.

    But we would still lose the network effect if the social media market were split up in that way. So perhaps some mandated interconnectivity? (Or possibly, interconnectivity could be offered as another competitive advantage; except that both/all sides need to agree in order for interconnectivity to function.)

    I don’t know the answer to this one (otherwise I’d be very rich and not hang around on blogs any more) – what do you think?

  8. “Why should one be obliged to disseminate opinions you don’t agree with?”

    Your phone company should send you an annual questionnaire on your political beliefs. If you answer any incorrectly, it has the right to stop providing services to you.

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    Mark in Mayenne January 7, 2021 at 7:58 am – “It is illegal, and rightly so, for a business to refuse service to anyone on the grounds of their colour or sex, and in my view it should also be illegal to do the same on the grounds of political orientation.”

    Facebook and so on want the benefits of being a Common Carrier without the obligations. If they insist that they are not publishers and hence responsible for content because they are not editing it, then that is one thing. But they are editing it. So they are publishers. And hence they should be responsible for all content.

    They should not be allowed to get away with this double standard. If they are just a pipeline then they should take all equally. If they are a publisher then they should be held responsible for libel and sexual materials and everything else they allow to be published.

  10. SMFS
    I heartily agree. No point in blaming the sewer for the shit in it. But only connecting the sewer to households you like, when there is no alternative drain, is an abuse.
    Policing content on the internet is the duty of the police, acting on democratically mandated laws. I’d like to see incitement to violence prosecuted vigorously, and don’t give a shit about people saying boo to trannies. But the law’s priorities could be reversed if the people demanded it.

  11. Tim
    Your save my name etc function has stopped working, I have to reenter my ID every time I comment. (Some people may think this is a good idea.)

  12. Given 4 years of screaming about Russian interference and multiple inquiries why did they expect this time people would just accept nothing to see here move along. At the very least offering people an inquiry might calm things down.

    As for Trumps statement I’d say he was more likely to get a response to ‘hey you have a point but don’t do it this way’ than to ‘stop this now and go home’ his bits about we won’t we’re just to make sure they listened to the go home peaceful part of the message

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