On Free Speech

Libertarian types are chomping at the bit to accuse Facebook, Twitter, et al, of violating free speech rights. The problem is, if these are private companies run by private individuals, then their “censorship” is not a free speech rights violation. QED. But there may just be a way in here: intellectual property. These companies zealously guard their trademarks and patents, and use government intellectual property laws to do so. Because these companies use government laws to protect themselves from competition by violating everyone else’s property rights, can it not be said that they are not entirely private companies, that their market share is monopolized to some degree by government fiat? And if so, then their censorship would be a violation of free speech rights due to their intentional use of government force, would it not? And that’s today’s two cents.

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Founder and editor of Everything-Voluntary.com and UnschoolingDads.com, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.

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Thomas L. Knapp
Thomas L. Knapp
3 years ago

The “intellectual property” thing as a “way in” is true enough, I guess, but there’s a more direct route: We have seen the public hearings at which the politicians have openly told Facebook et al. “if you don’t suppress the stuff we don’t like ‘voluntarily,’ we’ll force you to do it.” And we’ve seen the accounts of similar threats being made in non-public settings. These companies are basically the equivalent of marijuana dealer being told he won’t be prosecuted … so long as he snitches out the people up the chain and helps run stings to bring them down. We… Read more »