by Atty. Emmanuel S. Tipon
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
— Martin Niemoller, German Lutheran pastor, denouncing cowardice of German intellectuals for being silent against the Nazi persecution of Jews and other target groups and he was sent to jail.
Twitter permanently suspended the account of former President Donald J. Trump. Facebook also barred him from posting anything on its website. If Twitter and Facebook can go after a sitting President, who knows when they will come for you?
Immediately after President Trump had tweeted: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.” Twitter permanently suspended his twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
How Can Such an Announcement Incite Violence?
To counter the criticism against Twitter, it said that “On January 8, 2021, President Donald J. Trump Tweeted: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
According to Twitter “these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.”
These tweets do not glorify violence.
As for Facebook, it announced that it will bar President Trump from posting on its system at least until the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden in Jan. 20.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the risk of allowing Trump to use the platform is too great, following his incitement of a mob that later touched off a deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
Zuckerberg says Trump’s account will be locked “for at least the next two weeks ***but could remain locked indefinitely.”
An impartial listener of Trump’s speech on Jan. 6, 2021 will find nothing to indicate that he “incited” a “mob” to riot. According to the Merriam Webster, the term “incite” means “to move to action : stir up : spur on : urge on”.
Many Do Not Use Twitter or Facebook Anyway
Many people will probably say: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. I do not use Twitter or Facebook.”
I do not use Twitter. But I use Facebook to communicate. Facebook has banned a number of my articles from being posted, including “Justice Amy Coney Barrett is a godsend for the law abiding.” Facebook said: “Error. Warning. Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.” Susmariosep. “Abusive”? How can an article praising Justice Barrett in that “she applies the law and legal precedents” be abusive? And who are these “other people on Facebook” who have reported it as “abusive”?
“My Pillow” guy Mike Lindell, a Trump supporter, was banned from Twitter for life for posting proof of election fraud, according to Blabber Buzz on Jan. 27, 2021, noting that Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives is “a game of follow the leader, or a severe case of the domino effect.”
Who Will Speak Out Against Censorship?
A number of people believe that it is only in Nazi Germany and in Communist countries that censorship is imposed. Censorship is now taking place in the United States – by the so-called “Big (bad?) Tech” among which are Twitter and Facebook.
“Censorship in the beginning of the 4th Reich [Nazi Germany was the 3rd Reich] is going just as planned by those enemies of freedom,” said Phil Martin, commenting on Facebook’s action barring President Trump from posting on its system.
If people do not speak out now against censorship, who will speak for us when they will censor us? The German intellectuals and Protestants did not speak out because they were afraid that their heads would be cut off if they had spoken out. Others excused themselves saying: “Should I be my brother’s keeper?” according to Martin Niemoller.
But nobody’s head will be cut off in America if they speak out against the Big (bad?) Tech.
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said: “I don’t like censorship. I don’t like anyone to be censored and for them to have their right taken away to send a message on Twitter or on Facebook.”
Bravo, Macho Senor Presidente Obrador. “May your tribe increase.”
Unfortunately, Senor Presidente disclosed Sunday that he had contracted Covid-19. Aray.
Big Tech Immunity from Liability for Censorship
On May 28, 2020, former President Trump issued an “Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship.”
He stated that “Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy. Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution. The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people.”
He pointed out that the immunity from liability for the big tech social media created by section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. 230(c) should be clarified. Section 230(c) specifies that an interactive computer service provider may not be made liable “on account of” its decision in “good faith” to restrict access to content that it considers to be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable.”
The EO provided that Section 230(c) should not be distorted to provide liability protection for online platforms that — far from acting in “good faith” to remove objectionable content — instead engage in deceptive or pretextual actions to stifle viewpoints with which they disagree.
Trump directed that all executive departments and agencies should ensure that their application of section 230(c) properly reflects the narrow purpose of the section and take all appropriate actions in this regard.
The big tech social media hate President Trump for his efforts to repeal or limit the application of Section 230(c).
Constitutional Provision on Free Speech Inapplicable to Social Media?
The First Amendment to the Constitution provides: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
“The First Amendment is a constraint on the power of government. It doesn’t apply to Twitter. Twitter is not a state actor,” said Atty. Daphne Keller of Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center.
What Can Be Done Against Big Tech?
The example of Poland is worth considering. Poland plans to fine any social media company that removes content or blocks accounts where Polish law has not been violated. The bill creates a Court for the Protection of Freedom of Speech. Victims of censorship can file a complaint in court. If the court rules in favor of the victim and the social media company does not restore the content or unblock the account, the company will be fined.Suggestions have been made to boycott the social media companies that restrict speech or boycott the advertisers that advertise on their platforms.
People can create or support social media companies that are friendlier to conservatives and more liberal in applying freedom of speech guarantees, such as the social network Parler. It became the Number 1 social media app after Twitter and Facebook barred President Trump. However, Google and Apple took out Parler from their app store so that people could no longer download Parler. Amazon removed Parler from its web-hosting service.
Parler CEO John Matze criticized these actions as “a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the marketplace.” He said that Parler might have to build its own data centers and its own servers. Parler has come back with help from Russian-owned hosting service companies.
“Our return is inevitable due to hard work and persistence against all odds,” said Matze.
ATTY. EMMANUEL SAMONTE TIPON was a Fulbright and Smith-Mundt scholar to Yale Law School where he obtained a Master of Laws degree specializing in Constitutional Law. He has a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines. He is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, New York, and the Philippines. He practices federal law, with emphasis on immigration law and appellate federal criminal defense. He was the Dean and a Professor of Law of the College of Law, Northwestern University, Philippines. He writes law books and legal articles for Thomson-Reuters and writes columns for newspapers. He co-authored the best seller “Immigration Law Service, 1st ed.,” an 8-volume practice guide for immigration officers and lawyers. He wrote the best-seller “Knowing by Knowing Your Election Laws.” Listen to The Tipon Report which he co-hosts with his son Noel, the senior partner of the Bilecki & Tipon Law Firm. It is considered the most witty, interesting, and useful radio show in Hawaii. KNDI 1270 AM band every Thursday at 8:00 a.m. He was born in Laoag City, Philippines. Tel. (808) 800-7856. Cell Phone (808) 225-2645. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Websites: www.tiponlaw.com, www.hawaiianimmigrationattorney.com
The information provided in this article is not legal advice. Publication of this information is not intended to create, and receipt by you does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.