Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Twitter Doesn't Have To Live by the First Amendment, But @Nero Shows It Should

Earlier today, Twitter briefly suspended the account of Milo Yiannopoulos. Almost immediately, Twitter erupted in protest, with the hashtag #FreeMilo trending. His account was restored less than an hour later, but no explanation was ever provided.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has been suspected of censorship against conservatives, nor will it be the last. Twitter is far from alone: Facebook has been embroiled in scandal about censorship for weeks, while controversy on Reddit recently erupted in the wake of the Orlando shooting. This raises important questions about the differences between the legality of censorship, and the appropriateness of censorship....

With more than 300 million active users, Twitter’s user base has grown to nearly the same size as the population of the United States. Twitter, by some perspectives, has grown to be its own quasi-state. It is an entity that is used for sharing ideas and news in real time, which users rely on daily. When Twitter censors the views of Yiannopoulos and other individuals without cause or adherence to its rules, it erodes the foundation of, and destroys faith in, the validity of its rules and the content available through its service.

As an American company, Twitter ought to be promoting the same values of expression that America is founded upon, even if it is not required to. Twitter, by its very nature, is an extension of the marketplace of ideas. It should make every effort to promote and encourage it, not tear it down.