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Thread: Too big to fail...perhaps too big for normal rules?

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    Too big to fail...perhaps too big for normal rules?

    During the last recession many businesses were deemed "too big to fail". IE: So big that if they were not bailed out it would constitute a crisis situation. Essentially requiring that special rules be made in order to save the country. Could the same be applied to Big businesses in regards to free speech? For example and more specifically sites that are more often than not are used for conveying speech and expression such as Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Google etc etc.

    The reason that I ask this is because the idea and reasoning behind having free speech is so that things that the majority of people disagreed with can still be talked about with out interference by the government. An entity that, if left unchecked, could suppress things it didn't like because it has power. Power that the normal citizen by him or herself could not hope to defend against on their own. It seems to me that companies such as the above mentioned having the majority of users than most any other site could have the same chilling effect that the government could if left unchecked. Indeed being private companies they don't really have any checks and as such could suppress speech just as effectively as a generic government could. As such would it be unreasonable if such companies had the same free speech restrictions as the government? IE: Not able to censor or negatively affect speech that they do not like.

    Note that I am usually one that upholds free speech for individuals and companies so I do not ask this question lightly.

    Now I do know that some would be against this simply due to the fact that they think "hate speech" should be squashed and "hate speech is not free speech". I will simply ignore those platitudes because those people do not know what free speech is actually about. But I would like to hear from others on this.
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    Re: Too big to fail...perhaps too big for normal rules?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kal'Stang View Post
    During the last recession many businesses were deemed "too big to fail". IE: So big that if they were not bailed out it would constitute a crisis situation. Essentially requiring that special rules be made in order to save the country. Could the same be applied to Big businesses in regards to free speech? For example and more specifically sites that are more often than not are used for conveying speech and expression such as Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Google etc etc.

    The reason that I ask this is because the idea and reasoning behind having free speech is so that things that the majority of people disagreed with can still be talked about with out interference by the government. An entity that, if left unchecked, could suppress things it didn't like because it has power. Power that the normal citizen by him or herself could not hope to defend against on their own. It seems to me that companies such as the above mentioned having the majority of users than most any other site could have the same chilling effect that the government could if left unchecked. Indeed being private companies they don't really have any checks and as such could suppress speech just as effectively as a generic government could. As such would it be unreasonable if such companies had the same free speech restrictions as the government? IE: Not able to censor or negatively affect speech that they do not like.

    Note that I am usually one that upholds free speech for individuals and companies so I do not ask this question lightly.

    Now I do know that some would be against this simply due to the fact that they think "hate speech" should be squashed and "hate speech is not free speech". I will simply ignore those platitudes because those people do not know what free speech is actually about. But I would like to hear from others on this.
    Im not sure if we should make it a law but certainly a deal should be made with the govt to ensure that such companies uphold free speech ideals

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    Re: Too big to fail...perhaps too big for normal rules?

    Free speech is not unrestricted.

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    Re: Too big to fail...perhaps too big for normal rules?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aristaeus View Post
    Free speech is not unrestricted.
    Free speech is unrestricted, thats literally the point of it

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    Re: Too big to fail...perhaps too big for normal rules?

    Quote Originally Posted by Crovax View Post
    Free speech is unrestricted, thats literally the point of it
    Try going into an airport and shouting bomb and let us know how you get on.

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    Re: Too big to fail...perhaps too big for normal rules?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aristaeus View Post
    Try going into an airport and shouting bomb and let us know how you get on.
    You seem to have confused the ideal of free speech with the codified protections of the 1st amendment

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    Re: Too big to fail...perhaps too big for normal rules?

    I’m not against the idea of formally recognising the power some organisation have but I think anything along the lines of “the same rules as government” is too simplistic and not practical given the entirely different environments and different reasons. However big a company may get, they’ll never have the potentially unrestricted powers of a government and can always face effective competition. Its also worth noting that any rules applied to organisations would be implemented by government so you could be simply swapping one devil for another.

    For “publishers” like YouTube, Facebook and the like (though they don’t like the term for this reason) I think there is actually good competition in the market and while they can restrict things on their own platforms (legitimately or not), they can’t prevent the information being published elsewhere (after all, we generally wouldn’t find out otherwise). There could be an argument for regulatory structure similar to those for the press or television (though that would be difficult in practice) but I don’t see any argument for anything to the extent that you’re implying.

    Search engines could be considered a special case just because they’re fulfilling a different role but while Google is dominant, it does have competition. Again though, while some level of regulation could be applicable (though again, difficult) around areas like highlighting paid-for links over true search results and more clarity on the underlying algorithms, greater restrictions strike me as unnecessary.

    I think a great part of this is about personal responsibility and there is a risk in relying too much on outside control (private or public) to manage and regulate the information we access. These sources only dominate because we allow them to and 99% of the time that really doesn’t matter. In the times it does though, it’s on us each individually to put in a little more time and effort in to seeking out all of the relevant information from a range of sources. Free speech is useless if nobody is listening.

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    Re: Too big to fail...perhaps too big for normal rules?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kal'Stang View Post
    During the last recession many businesses were deemed "too big to fail". IE: So big that if they were not bailed out it would constitute a crisis situation. Essentially requiring that special rules be made in order to save the country. Could the same be applied to Big businesses in regards to free speech? For example and more specifically sites that are more often than not are used for conveying speech and expression such as Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Google etc etc.

    The reason that I ask this is because the idea and reasoning behind having free speech is so that things that the majority of people disagreed with can still be talked about with out interference by the government. An entity that, if left unchecked, could suppress things it didn't like because it has power. Power that the normal citizen by him or herself could not hope to defend against on their own. It seems to me that companies such as the above mentioned having the majority of users than most any other site could have the same chilling effect that the government could if left unchecked. Indeed being private companies they don't really have any checks and as such could suppress speech just as effectively as a generic government could. As such would it be unreasonable if such companies had the same free speech restrictions as the government? IE: Not able to censor or negatively affect speech that they do not like.

    Note that I am usually one that upholds free speech for individuals and companies so I do not ask this question lightly.

    Now I do know that some would be against this simply due to the fact that they think "hate speech" should be squashed and "hate speech is not free speech". I will simply ignore those platitudes because those people do not know what free speech is actually about. But I would like to hear from others on this.
    In fact, there was recently passed a law in Germany holding those companies responsible for erasing content that the government deemed illegal such as “hate speech” or nazi propaganda. The companies are forced to self monitor the content and censor such content. The fines they can face can be substantial.

    So yes. These companies do have the power and the people use it to censor content already.

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    Re: Too big to fail...perhaps too big for normal rules?

    Quote Originally Posted by Crovax View Post
    Im not sure if we should make it a law but certainly a deal should be made with the govt to ensure that such companies uphold free speech ideals
    Yes. I am with you that content should not be censored. In most cases, it is a government that does the censoring, however.
    Also, we are quite accustomed to these companies sometimes censoring areas like sex or ‘dirty’ talk and actually expect them to.

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    Re: Too big to fail...perhaps too big for normal rules?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kal'Stang View Post
    During the last recession many businesses were deemed "too big to fail". IE: So big that if they were not bailed out it would constitute a crisis situation. Essentially requiring that special rules be made in order to save the country. Could the same be applied to Big businesses in regards to free speech? For example and more specifically sites that are more often than not are used for conveying speech and expression such as Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Google etc etc.

    The reason that I ask this is because the idea and reasoning behind having free speech is so that things that the majority of people disagreed with can still be talked about with out interference by the government. An entity that, if left unchecked, could suppress things it didn't like because it has power. Power that the normal citizen by him or herself could not hope to defend against on their own. It seems to me that companies such as the above mentioned having the majority of users than most any other site could have the same chilling effect that the government could if left unchecked. Indeed being private companies they don't really have any checks and as such could suppress speech just as effectively as a generic government could. As such would it be unreasonable if such companies had the same free speech restrictions as the government? IE: Not able to censor or negatively affect speech that they do not like.

    Note that I am usually one that upholds free speech for individuals and companies so I do not ask this question lightly.

    Now I do know that some would be against this simply due to the fact that they think "hate speech" should be squashed and "hate speech is not free speech". I will simply ignore those platitudes because those people do not know what free speech is actually about. But I would like to hear from others on this.
    I think they certainly have the power in their hands to do that. It reminds me of the recent report of the travel site, Trip Advisor (I think it was) where they were deleting reviews that exposed certain hotels as hot spots for rape and sexual assaults.

    And I believe that Google can and does manipulate what comes up on search results, so yeah, it's kind of concerning to me. Twitter though is more instantaneous. Stuff can be deleted after it's out there, but we would know they were suppressing. Facebook too. I don't know how Youtube works.

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