This has been a tough week.
Starting with the terrible event that occurred last weekend in Charlottesville, VA, where clashes between neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups erupted into fights and violence and led to death of one protester.
Throughout the week, the event continued to gain steam when President Trump commented about the incident, then made a second comment, then held an unprecedented press conference that even members of his own party condemned.
As prominent CEOs's of the President's manufacturing council began to drop out, several tech companies began or intensified their crack down on hate speech and banning of alt-right and neo-Nazi websites. According to PBS News, here are just a few big names and their actions:
Cloudflare, a company that provides security services to internet companies to protect them from hackers, also joined the movement by also dropping The Daily Stormer from its network services. The move was a bit of a surprise, because Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare, has long been an advocate of free speech saying that "a website is speech, it is not a bomb,"
Cloudfire took the action, however, because management determined that the The Daily Stormer was harassing individuals who were reporting their site as abusive. Prince was also clear that he and the company found the content on the site "abhorrent and vile" and in a company memo stated that "the tipping point for us making this decision was that the team behind Daily Stormer made the claim that we were secretly supporters of their ideology ... we could not remain neutral after these claims of secret support by Cloudflare."
While these actions by tech companies seen by most as the proper and moral thing to do, some have rightfully questioned the ability of businesses in general to have such a significant influence on the fundamental right of free speech online -- censoring or even removing it altogether.
Prince goes on to say that entrepreneurs -- and society at large -- need to ask ourselves who should be responsible for policing and regulating online content. "I sit in a very privileged position," said Prince, "I see about 10 percent of all online traffic, and I can make a decision whether they can be online anymore. And I'm not sure I am the one who should be making that kind of decision."
The the question for all of us is who should be?
We are all affording the freedom of speech and expression -- a very unique, precious and delicate gift. We have also been afforded, through the sacrifice of many generations, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
When these two rights intersect and conflict, we need a moral standard -- not the constitution -- to moderate.
Of course, the question then becomes who gets to decide the moral standard?
Luckily, we have a democratic system in place that allows the country's citizens to select representatives who serve as the law makers that mold this standard. Is our system flawed -- absolutely -- but as Winston Churchill astutely recognized, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others."
When it comes to tech companies -- or any company for that matter -- they have an obligation to follow the law -- and that is about it. As Prince contends, the right policy is for content providers to be "content neutral." The community can be policed by its users in the form reporting reprehensible content, and companies have the obligations to engage experts and authorities in law enforcement to determine what should be removed.
Of course, if some companies wish to write and maintain an internal set of codes and as long as those codes do not infringe upon or otherwise break a law, a company has every right to do so. Customers who disagree can exercise their freedom of speech to voice their opinion or simply "protest with their wallets."
This debate will surely not end anytime soon, and by all indications, it is just getting started.
What do you think? Should censorship be under the management of companies, or should content be continued to be given freedoms under the right to free speech? Please share your (constructive and civil) comments below.
- Barcelona members strike back vs. Bartomeu: What does 'motion of censorship' mean, and what's next? - ESPN - September 18th, 2020
- What the *, Nintendo? This in-game censorship is * terrible. - EFF - September 18th, 2020
- Social media censorship in Egypt targets women on TikTok - The World - September 18th, 2020
- Trumps Partial TikTok And WeChat Ban Tip-Toes Into Chinese-Style Censorship - Forbes - September 18th, 2020
- Judd Apatow Criticizes Hollywood's Censorship For International Market: China Has Bought Our Silence With Their Money - Deadline - September 18th, 2020
- Bangladesh in the Shadow of Censorship The Diplomat - The Diplomat - September 18th, 2020
- Why is the government pushing unprecedented online censorship? - Telegraph.co.uk - September 18th, 2020
- Not Content to Censor Conservatives, Zuckerberg Now Seeks to Meddle in Election - National Legal and Policy Center - September 18th, 2020
- New Alliance to Track and Fight Censoring of Conservatives - CBN News - September 18th, 2020
- Reading the Evolution of Censorship and Sedition in India - The Wire - September 18th, 2020
- China's Influence on the Global Human Rights System - Human Rights Watch - September 18th, 2020
- China Isn't Hiding the Border Tensions With India From Its Public Anymore - The Diplomat - September 18th, 2020
- Censorship - Wikipedia - September 6th, 2020
- What Is Censorship? | American Civil Liberties Union - September 6th, 2020
- Call Trumps Attacks On The 1619 Project What They Are Censorship of American History - Forbes - September 6th, 2020
- Facebook is bringing an updated content censorship term for its users from October 1st - Digital Information World - September 6th, 2020
- Will Joe Rogan Have The Guts To Call Out Spotify For 'Censorship'? - CCN.com - September 6th, 2020
- Joe Rogans Spotify move condemned by fans over right-wing censorship claims - The Independent - September 6th, 2020
- Shadow banning and its role in modern day censorship - Cherwell Online - September 6th, 2020
- Apple reacts to censorship censure - Mobile World Live - September 6th, 2020
- TunnelBear Circumvents Iran VPN Block, Launches 10GB Monthly Offer in the Country - Business Wire - September 6th, 2020
- Facebook is changing its Terms of Service, and users are not happy - Windows Central - September 6th, 2020
- End the blacklist of the World Socialist Web Site on Reddit! - WSWS - September 6th, 2020
- Kahle: Upholding the public trust - The Register-Guard - September 6th, 2020
- Science protections must be enforceable | TheHill - The Hill - September 6th, 2020
- Reddit isnt happy about President Trumps anti-censorship executive order - Reclaim The Net - September 6th, 2020
- Forget TikTok. Chinas Powerhouse App Is WeChat. - The New York Times - September 6th, 2020
- The shaky upcoming national election environment can be fixed - JNS.org - September 6th, 2020
- Censorship on social media? It's not what you think - CBS News - September 4th, 2020
- Kyle Rittenhouse lawyer Lin Wood threatens to sue Twitter over censorship - Reclaim The Net - September 4th, 2020
- Finding human territory in a fractured world - The Tech - September 4th, 2020
- We dont believe in censorship: Controversial Aboriginal commentator to lead WA festival amid fear of backlash from Noongar people - WAtoday - September 4th, 2020
- How WeChat Censored the Coronavirus Pandemic - WIRED - August 28th, 2020
- Voter Advocacy Orgs Sue Trump Administration for Executive Order Threatening Social Media Censorship - EFF - August 28th, 2020
- Kuwait eases censorship laws after banning 5000 titles in last 7 years - The Indian Express - August 28th, 2020
- Buffy's Amber Benson on censorship, the musical, and Tara's death - digitalspy.com - August 28th, 2020
- Kuwait relaxes book censorship laws after banning thousands of titles - The Guardian - August 28th, 2020
- Film and Publications Amendment Act: Protecting, not censoring, our citizens in the digital age - Daily Maverick - August 28th, 2020
- Chinas wrath on Hong Kong is causing artists to self-censor - Reclaim The Net - August 28th, 2020
- Here are 5 excuses liberals have put forward in defence of modern day book burning, and why it makes them look like total morons - OpIndia - August 28th, 2020
- Jessie and Austins aunt vs TikTok the debate around censorship of Bodies in the Suitcase video - HITC - August 28th, 2020
- Artists Ai Weiwei and Fang Fang's depictions of the Wuhan lockdown - DW (English) - August 28th, 2020
- A Radioactive Plague: The secrecy and censorship surrounding civilian deaths from World War II - Milwaukee Independent - August 10th, 2020
- Censorship on the internet in 2020: The potential effects of TikTok - Film Daily - August 10th, 2020
- Wicker: Time to address online censorship - The Vicksburg Post - Vicksburg Post - August 10th, 2020
- Open Technology Fund Authorization Act - BORGEN - Borgen Project - August 10th, 2020
- The Logic of a US WeChat Ban - The Diplomat - August 10th, 2020
- Ben Domenech Clashes With Joe Trippi Over Censorship Of Trump's Social Media - The Federalist - August 10th, 2020
- German Analysis Institute Regrets Censorship of a Professional Science Assertion - The Shepherd of the Hills Gazette - August 10th, 2020
- China Is Upgrading Its Great Firewall And Can Now Censor Even More Content - News18 - August 10th, 2020
- Twitter censors all links to BitChute - Reclaim The Net - August 10th, 2020
- Fear of Authoritarian Regimes Is Pushing the Film Industry to Self-Censor - Foreign Affairs Magazine - August 10th, 2020
- Facebook is wrong to censor Donald Trump - The Spectator USA - August 10th, 2020
- Education, not censorship, must be used to tackle online antisemitism - The Jerusalem Post - August 10th, 2020
- Why Did Facebook Censor This Video Of President Trump? - The Hayride - August 10th, 2020
- Lawyer concerned that 'internet censorship bill' may be used as a political tool - CapeTalk - August 10th, 2020
- Brother Nut, the Artist, Taking Vow of Silence to Protest Chinas Censorship - VOA Asia - August 8th, 2020
- Researchers slowly discover censorship doesnt work - Reclaim The Net - August 8th, 2020
- Setlist: Wiley, Twitter and the online censorship debate - Complete Music Update - August 8th, 2020
- The line between legislating in opposition to disinformation and censorship could be very skinny - Pledge Times - August 8th, 2020
- Hollywood Is "Increasingly Normalizing" Self-Censorship for China, Report Finds - Hollywood Reporter - August 7th, 2020
- Rep. Buck wants Twitter's Jack Dorsey to testify about 'censorship of conservatives' and 'cozy' relationshi... - Fox News - August 7th, 2020
- Lee says Google, Facebook and Twitter are censoring conservative voices - Deseret News - August 7th, 2020
- The White Houses plan to purge Chinese tech from the internet is just bluster for now - The Verge - August 7th, 2020
- Is the Gov't Outsourcing Censorship Duties to FB & Google? - The Jewish Voice - August 7th, 2020
- Doctors' cries of censorship become part of their message - Poynter - August 6th, 2020
- Turkey takes Germany's hate speech law, and makes it much worse with its own censorship and data localization rules - Privacy News Online - August 6th, 2020
- Op-ed: Censorship and higher taxes won't create more Apples, Amazons, Facebooks and Googles - CNBC - August 6th, 2020
- Pence Says Administration Will 'Lean Into' Issue of Tech Censorship - Newsmax - August 6th, 2020
- GreatFire introduces app maker to bypass Chinas censorship - Reclaim The Net - August 6th, 2020
- Facebook removes pro-Trump ad aimed at Joe Biden, claiming false information - Fox News - August 6th, 2020
- #SavetheChildren Ban? Facebook Censors 'Save the Children' - Heavy.com - August 6th, 2020
- Censorship or fighting disinformation? Russia to use AI to create controversial fake news filter, as Facebook efforts stall - RT - August 6th, 2020
- The Italian journalist sets fire to Instagram bordering on censorship with her first bath - Explica - August 6th, 2020
- Facebook censors hydroxychloroquine praise, even in countries where its an official treatment - Reclaim The Net - August 6th, 2020
- Theft, censorship and the emperors of the online economy: Tech CEOs go on defense - POLITICO - August 4th, 2020
- How the New York Times profits from self-censorship - The Spectator USA - August 4th, 2020
- Some Facebook mods support the ads boycott, call for more censorship - Reclaim The Net - August 4th, 2020
- South Park: Why Episodes "200" and "201" Were Banned - Screen Rant - August 4th, 2020
- Free speech risk as university staff feel need to censor pro-Brexit views - The Scotsman - August 4th, 2020