“Free Market” is not a carte blanche thing that can be thrown around when we do not live in a free market economy. I know this whole “they are a private company” thing is always the retort for crazy right wing trumpers pissed their qanon memes get blocked or noted with a warning. Totally get it.
It is especially funny when it comes from that camp of right-wing trump dudes decrying commie threats all the time. I scoff at that too. Like hey bud, you cannot complain about socialism while also complaining about free market private company decisions. That works in the paradigm of this vs. that, in a vacuum.
But that is not how it works in reality. In reality, USG has its hand in free market a massive amount. The best example is the anti-trust case against FB now. If the USG – and as such the will of the people, in theory – can demand FB cannot be a monopoly or engage in nefarious activities, then the same is true for how they respond to freedom of speech.
In fact, the latter of those two is more important I reckon. Every company in this “Free market” economy is bound by city, county, state, federal and international laws. That alone means it is not an *absolute* free market. So dropping “private company” and “Free market” is not some panacea as answer to complaints of potential violations of freedom of speech (as theory or law) or biased implementation of such.
The inconsistent application of rules by FB, et al, but FB mostly, is non-negotiable. I have seen it a bunch of times, and tested it out. And my assessment is that it does lean left. I am not saying far left, but definitely a bit over the line. Additionally, even if it is not inconsistent, it is still inaccurate. My two hits for Hate Speech is solid evidence of that. That inaccuracy is evidence enough to warrant a change in the application.
Even if we were to wipe away the paragraphs above. And let us just say that their application is not biased, and they are a private company so whatevs. Even with that, I would posit that like cigarette ads, FOSTA, SESTA, etc, that the USG and thus the people, have determined that in some cases, the invisible hand needs to be visible.
In the case of internet stuff versus such as a bakery for example, these platforms have ceased to be voluntary platforms. There are jobs you cannot apply to without LinkedIn. Logging into legitimate accounts needed, are often bias towards using your Google or Facebook to login. There are places that do not accept cash. And there is a thin line thus, between having 2 options (Credit/Debit and Apply/Google Pay) and having 1 – Apple/Google.
These internet platforms such as Facebook, Google, Wikipedia, Airbnb, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc have surpassed convenience and though are not totally in the necessity column, they are on the cusp, with some in one column and some in the other. And soon, they will all be in the necessity column. There likely will always some recourse to operate off grid, but we all know, that is 1,000 times more difficult to do.
Additionally, when I posited my Microsoft banning people for using blacklisted terms, like Facebook and Twitter, and got some blow back on it, that blow back missed the point.
Remember when Google Plus existed. Imagine if it was successful and you had the same situation with Facebook. But Google hosts more needed things – like email. And now you are banned from your email. Totally within their rights. There is nothing that says Microsoft cannot ban you from using words in Word on your own computer.
Sure, you can argue that you paid for it, but people already pay for Facebook and Twitter via their data, for solo private accounts, and via paying for ads as an example for business accounts. And, Parler surely paid Amazon for their services and got kicked off. So the idea of paying for a service as a way to negate them to block or ban you for violating their T&S is false.
Additionally, one can argue that you need to read the T&S. Well, WhatsApp just changed theirs. So that logic is false too, because they change ALL THE TIME. And if you are invested in that platform as a individual or business it is very difficult to uninvest. People have built entire business models off of these platforms. Shit, I have had start ups go to shit because of T&S or API changes. If I got banned from Facebook total, I would be fucked. Messenger is my primary communication tool. And that includes work stuff often.
Airbnb just blocked nearly every reservation in DC because they are trying to avoid violent protesters from coming. Only if you have a long term stay or medical need can you come. Well, shit, what about homeless brandon? Now I am fucked. And what if I got on Facebook and began to complain about that while living in my care. And Facebook is how I share a GoFundMe to pay for a hotel room for myself? Then Facebook bans me because I used colorful language in my “Friends Only” post or sub-comments and now I am truly fucked.
So no, “Free Market” and “private company” is absolute bullshit. These platforms have spent billions ensuring their product and services replace original ones. They are no longer only private companies. They are crossing over into public goods – and that was their choice, and perhaps, they need to regulated as such when it comes to socio-political bias, because they already are regulated in every other way.