A couple of recent attempts to censor social media have brought the issue of social media censorship into the collective conversation.
Recall that in May, a U.S. District Court determined that Facebook Likes aren’t protected speech. Many legal experts believe that this could be extended to all social media content, leaving users vulnerable to retribution without the protection of the First Amendment. If Freedom of Speech isn’t extended to social content, one would presume that it would give the government more latitude for censorship.
That said, some people aren’t ready to have their content censored.
The White House appeals to YouTube (Google)
Last week, the White House appealed to Google to consider removing the video “Innocence of Muslims,” which portrays the prophet Muhammed in an unfavorable light. The movie is purported by some to be the impetus for the assault on the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi last week, and is cited by others as instigating the assailants. The White House’s call to censor the video was a soft sell, appealing to Google to consider whether the video violated their terms of service.
Google’s response was equally nuanced. Google denied the White House’s request, but censored the movie in India, Indonesia, Libya and Egypt. Google claimed that their censorship was to comply with local laws, although the video would only be construed as illegal in India and Indonesia.
Can football players support gay marriage?
Recently, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo Tweeted his support of gay marriage. In response, Maryland Delegate Emmett Burns sent a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti asking him to censor Ayanbadejo.
The response was overwhelming in support of Ayanbadejo. The Baltimore Ravens, National Football League and several players (including Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, whose rebuttal unfortunately caused me to Google “fromunda”). After the backlash, Burns backed down from his request with the ironic acknowledgement that both he and Ayanbadejo have the freedom of speech as granted by the First Amendment.
What do you think?
In these two circumstances the parties stood their ground in the face of attempted censorship. But I wonder if users of social media and technology, presumably more informed due to Twitter’s ten-second news cycle (I mean you, reading this right now) have a strong opinion about social media censorship.
Is there any circumstance where the government should be able to censor social media? Please take a second to vote in the Sodahead poll below.