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ACLU Counsel Warns of 'Unchecked Power' of Twitter, Facebook After Trump Suspension

A legislative counsel member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned Friday that the suspension of President Donald Trump's social media accounts wielded "unchecked power," by Twitter and Facebook.

Kate Ruane, a senior legislative counsel at the ACLU said in a statement that the decision to suspend Trump from social media could set a precedent for big tech companies to silence less privileged voices.

Reaction from @ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Kate Ruane on the permanent suspension by #Twitter of @realDonaldTrump. pic.twitter.com/lOy8Cb4H2M — Steve Herman (@W7VOA) January 9, 2021

"For months, President Trump has been using social media platforms to seed doubt about the results of the election and to undermine the will of voters. We understand the desire to permanently suspend him now, but it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions – especially when political realities make those decisions easier," the statement read.

"President Trump can turn his press team or Fox News to communicate with the public, but others – like many Black, Brown, and LGTBQ activists who have been censored by social media companies – will not have that luxury. It is our hope that these companies will apply their rules transparently to everyone.

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They are worried over nothing. A handful of multi billionaires would never abuse their unchecked stranglehold over communication.

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by Anonymousreply 6901/12/2021

These cunts are always so helpful in their sanctimony and correctness.

by Anonymousreply 101/09/2021

I appreciate the ACLU's desire to stick to principle regardless of which way the political winds blow, but they should really take a step back on this and see things for what they are. This was an extraordinary action taken by Facebook, Twitter and Snap Inc. in order to address the extraordinary circumstance of a president who is trying to overthrow the god damn U.S. government. These companies gave Trump the megaphone, and they are responsible for taking it away given that it was being used to DESTROY our democracy. They had best believe that there would not be an ACLU if Trump got what he wanted earlier this week.

by Anonymousreply 201/09/2021

They worry about the unchecked power of social media companies and not the unchecked power of a President who abuses his position to urge people to commit illegal acts through social media. In banning Trump, in no way are these companies "silencing" him like bullying someone in a weaker position, since Trump holds the highest office in the country has plenty of other ways to speak out if he wants to. One can even say these companies are just protecting themselves from being liable for any illegal plots hatched and coordinated on their platforms.

by Anonymousreply 301/09/2021

Right on, R3. I suspect these companies may have received a heads up from the FBI that seditious plots were being formed and coordinated on their platforms and that in the event of a catastrophe worse than the one that occurred on Wednesday were to happen, they could be complicit. That could explain why Google, Apple and Amazon were quick to cut off Parler.

by Anonymousreply 401/09/2021

Never thought ACLU would be the one Donald Trump would turn to.

by Anonymousreply 501/09/2021

All the anti-woke center/left podcasters I follow are in agreement with the ACLU here, and it pisses me off to no end. How can people not understand this situation? It isn’t government censorship, and it has nothing to do with “Free Speech” or the First Amendment, and they’re a private company that has terms of service everyone agrees to when they sign up. This is a public safety issue as well as a private sector matter.

If a bakery can’t be forced to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding, then Twitter can’t be forced to host a user who continually violates its TOS to the point that an insurrection occurs, one which causes harm/death to people.

This is seriously not hard to understand. These people are so misguided, it’s unreal.

by Anonymousreply 601/09/2021

I believe the operative word is "companies."

As in "private enterprise." As in "Capitalism." As in "The American Way."

In essence, Trump removed not only his shirt and shoes; he pulled down his pants and mooned America.

So......No service!

by Anonymousreply 701/09/2021

R6, it's amazing that people don't understand free speech although I've heard more bitching about this on the right than the left. No one has the right to a Twitter account, people can't tell the difference between privileges and rights

by Anonymousreply 801/09/2021

[quote]it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions

Where do I begin? How about with where their statement conflates what Facebook and Twitter [italic]offer[/italic] - a platform for billions of people - with a “power” and “indispensab[ility]” that is totally subjective, i.e., billions of people don’t give either platform a second thought and find them as completely dispensable as a vegan health nut finds McDonald’s.

And just like any McDonald’s establishment is well within its rights in kicking out a raving lunatic of a customer who does not abide by their code of conduct, Facebook and Twitter are well within their rights to do the same.

This man was not only allowed to spew madness for years on these platforms, once he had gone too far, he was temporarily suspended, given a warning, allowed back on, and continued right where he left off by dismissing what he had been advised not to do AND flagrantly disregarding the extremely sensitive and volatile climate following a national tragedy and domestic terrorist attack he orchestrated and encouraged.

Seriously, I can’t.

by Anonymousreply 901/09/2021

Doesn't Twitter suspend or ban people all the time? Trump got much more leeway and many more chances than regular Twitter posters.

by Anonymousreply 1001/09/2021

They are not saying Trump should get his account back.

by Anonymousreply 1101/09/2021

This lawyer thinks she is catching the Biden-Harris Zeitgeist wave, but she's simply showing her ignorance.

by Anonymousreply 1201/09/2021

What are they saying, R11, and how is it correct?

by Anonymousreply 1301/09/2021

P.S. Let’s not even get into the staggering irony of chastising social media platforms for banning someone who wants section 230 repealed.

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by Anonymousreply 1401/09/2021

They’re basically saying let this be a warning about how powerful these companies have become and how they might silence people who don’t have other ways of reaching the media. They need clear rules and transparent decision-making.

by Anonymousreply 1501/09/2021

R15 Which is better, the blanket silencing Trump was calling for or a company choosing - after making clear its code of conduct and issuing out second chances - not to service individuals who break said codes?

by Anonymousreply 1601/09/2021

They are not even really criticizing this decision by twitter. Read the damn article. Basically they are saying that in this case it's OK.

That is the remarkable headline here is that even the ACLU says this was a good move.

by Anonymousreply 1701/09/2021

What about the unchecked power of Muriel? She has too much control over my life!

by Anonymousreply 1801/09/2021

I just tried to stop my $50/month contribution to the ACLU over the BULLSHIT they’ve espoused on this issue. They are supporting the overthrow of the US Government.

Turns out that the ACLU has made it necessary for an act of Congress in order stop a contribution to them. I will NEVER give another dime to this group of hypocritical, officious Jews.

by Anonymousreply 1901/09/2021

Trump is suing, of course.

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by Anonymousreply 2001/09/2021

[quote] Never thought ACLU would be the one Donald Trump would turn to.

Welcome aboard, ACLU.

by Anonymousreply 2101/09/2021

As my brother would say "the only reason to be a card carrying ACLU member is so you can quit them publicly when they piss you off."

And r19, 50 bucks a month? Sure Jan

by Anonymousreply 2201/09/2021

Dear Officious Jew at R22 - The proof that you are a FUCKING JEW is that the very idea of a $50/month donation is unfathomable to a penny-pinching Shylock like yourself.

by Anonymousreply 2301/09/2021

Q: How was copper wire invented?

A: Two Jews found a penny at the same time.

by Anonymousreply 2401/09/2021

You definitely sound like someone contributing to the ACLU.

by Anonymousreply 2501/09/2021

These social media companies absolutely DO have unchecked power when it comes to allowing and promoting certain voices above others, and it needs to be dealt with.

The ACLU however are a bunch of assholes for bringing this up NOW, and in response to them banning the president, a man with a literal press corps following him around 24 hours a day. The president has more opportunity to get his voice out there than any other human being in the United States, for fuck's sake.

by Anonymousreply 2601/09/2021

For god's sake, Muriel, will you fucking do something about the antisemites around here?

by Anonymousreply 2701/09/2021

Yeah, R17, but they're still jumping onto this issue for attention, and that's just unconscionable. This was an attempted coup, not a fun newsworthy event that organizations should try to attach themselves to for free publicity.

by Anonymousreply 2801/09/2021

They are not fit for purpose.

by Anonymousreply 2901/09/2021

Somewhere in the Twilight Zone, Giuliani is suing......

"We're sorry, Herr Hitler, but we really must cancel your on-line accounts with us because, well, some of your posts do seem to have violated our Terms of Service which you agreed to follow. A bit too war-mongering, you see. We wish you well."

"But....but....Nein, I do not agree! I believe that I should have the right to tell the world about my struggle! You have no right to censor me! I have free speech!"

"We do apologize, Mein Herr, but you understand we are not censoring you. We are not taking away your freedom of speech. We are simply not giving you access to our particular, let's call them venues. You have every right to speak in large stadiums, for example. Or maybe publish a book about your, as you call it, struggle. Now, if you don't mind, Auf Wiedersehen."

by Anonymousreply 3001/10/2021

For god's sake, Muriel, will you fucking do something about the people I don’t agree with around here?

by Anonymousreply 3101/10/2021

These statements are not on the ACLU’s Twitter feed, so they should be considered fake until verified from an official source. Newsweek is now alt-right propaganda so not credible.

by Anonymousreply 3201/10/2021

He can hold a goddamned press conference if he wants a forum.

by Anonymousreply 3301/10/2021

Team Twitter and Facebook on this one.

by Anonymousreply 3401/10/2021

ACLU is doing their job. Trump or not Trump.

by Anonymousreply 3501/10/2021

I always welcome the ACLU's input.

They're not advocating for Trump here. They using this circumstance to advocate for lesser individuals. It deserves consideration.

by Anonymousreply 3601/10/2021

So does the ACLU want Twitter, et al, to be compelled to provide their service to everyone, rather than possibly overstepping their bounds? It's all well and good for them to say "Oh, in this specific case, you may have been right, but we want to give you a public slap on the wrist anyway, so you don't one day terminate the account of anyone we actually care about." But why the fuck say anything at all?

Maybe because this is cynical political posturing. Just think of the big bucks that will roll in if people who've been banned from social media all start suing the deep pocketed tech giants, and who will they now think of first to represent them? The ACLU.

by Anonymousreply 3701/10/2021

No, R37, it's not about Trump at all. They're saying now is a good time to consider there should be a method of arbitration in place for this, for the good of all users. They're saying big tech has too much power and shouldn't be able to just decide these things in the current whimsical manner.

by Anonymousreply 3801/10/2021

R38 Do tell, who is big tech banning on a whim? Where are these “many Black, Brown, and LGTBQ activists who have been censored by social media companies” and who are being “whimsically” censored and banned for simply speaking their truth? I haven’t read, seen, or heard any concern for [italic]them[/italic].

I mean, if the ACLU is so concerned with these people and not so much Trump, who they mentioned twice in their four-sentence statement, why not honor them, their rights, and their causes by providing concrete examples of the “black, brown, and LGBTQ activists” that have been censored and banned to add credence to their claim? Oh, and are there no white activists being censored and banned? (Be careful, ACLU, you are inadvertently “censoring” the many white people who have been censored and banned.)

Their concern does not belie their subtly implied false equivalency - or is impeached President Trump now akin to “black, brown, and LGBTQ activists”? As for their timing - it is borderline offensive. Their statement is disingenuous and totally oblivious to ‘time and place,’ though I doubt unwittingly so.

There is a major problem among a sizable group of people in this country right now regarding accepting and appropriately assessing what the fuck just happened less than a week ago, which resulted in 5 deaths and over 50 injuries, not to mention the destruction and desecration of our Capitol and threats of harm and death to top-line government officials. What makes this - [italic]any of this[/italic] - okay to shrug at, flip past, and move on from to focus on the evils and horrors of the big tech boogeyman?

Which brings me to another point: Maybe the problem isn’t social media but our [italic]individual dependence[/italic] on it which, quite frankly, is a personal problem. Maybe the “power” and “indispensab[ility]” these big tech companies hold over us is illusory and we really are, you know, in control of what the fuck we choose to do and focus on. (I, for one, have no social media accounts other than my DL account, which is quite enough, thank you very much.)

To equate whether or not you are allowed to vomit and spew whatever feverish insanities your id comes up with on a PRIVATE COMPANY’S SERVICE, i.e., platform, to the denial of one’s freedom of speech to score a political point is not only disingenuous, it is stupid and pathetic. And during such a critical time in our country, it is reprehensible.

by Anonymousreply 3901/10/2021

Fuck these squinty mouth breathers.

Freedom of Speech ≠ Freedom of Outreach

1st Amendment applies only to the government, not private companies.

by Anonymousreply 4001/10/2021

[quote] Do tell, who is big tech banning on a whim? Where are these “many Black, Brown, and LGTBQ activists who have been censored by social media companies” and who are being “whimsically” censored and banned for simply speaking their truth? I haven’t read, seen, or heard any concern for them.

I think that's their point.

by Anonymousreply 4101/10/2021

They sicken me. The rules they try to force upon us are just fine and dandy. When it is applied to them they scream and demand the same rules unfair. Do they even realize how repulsive they are to the rest of mankind?

by Anonymousreply 4201/10/2021

It's interesting that Republicans want capitalism and small government until it affects one of their own, it's the same case of privatise the profits and socialise the loss. Republicanism and the right are the most dangerous cult in the western hemisphere.

by Anonymousreply 4301/10/2021

[quote]I think that's their point.

You really want to go there?

If that’s the point, how the fuck would they know to reference the “brown, black, and LGBTQ activists”? You know, since they’ve been “disappeared.”

Ugh. Enough.

by Anonymousreply 4401/10/2021

Who are you talking about, R42? The ACLU is an advocacy group of civil liberties, they don't rule over anyone.

I assume you're talking about the right-wing in relation to BLM (or any other socio-political protest), etc. I mean, all of this is so dicey because I was just about to type "...and their own protestors." Precise language is so important because what we saw on Wednesday was not a peaceful protest, it was an insurrection. And there's a big difference. Just because people assemble, does not mean it's a peaceful protest. And I think a lot of right-wingers including their more mainstream supporters/voters do not understand the difference. I also think a lot of the chaos we see in the midst of legitimately peaceful protests - no surprise - is planned by these far right-wing groups specifically to blur the difference. I mean, these two things are conflated all of the time, as if showing up at the Michigan state capitol with armed weapons can somehow be construed as a peaceful protest. These people think the 1st Amendment gives them the right to show up, bear arms and intimidate people and it doesn't.

Not directly solely at R42, btw. Just contributing to the discussion.

by Anonymousreply 4501/10/2021

R42 What’s even more insane is that we have a whiny spoiled lard ass evil - literally - bitch of an impeached president screaming about having done to him what he wanted to pass as law!

by Anonymousreply 4601/10/2021

[quote]Maybe the problem isn’t social media but our individual dependence on it which, quite frankly, is a personal problem. Maybe the “power” and “indispensab[ility]” these big tech companies hold over us is illusory

Not when the media uses it so heavily or when companies put their customer service on various social media platforms. That's not something you and I as individuals can control.

We became reliant on social media for news the same way we became reliant on cable for news a couple decades ago, and the decision behind that wasn't ever in our hands.

by Anonymousreply 4701/10/2021

R43, did you see Showtime's recent documentary series The Reagans? I lived through it but it was so interesting because it went back to the last '50s and early '60s when all of that bullshit about small government, etc., originated and how Reagan's role as a spokesperson for GE (and lack of income) made him the perfect avatar for such ridiculous views that the GOP still spouts today as if it's some kind of tried and true, substantial, workable theory of government. Reagan was as shallow, undiscerning and self-interested as his GOP brethren are today. There never was an "there" there and these lies have been perpetrated up on the American people for many decades because it sounds nice to them.

by Anonymousreply 4801/10/2021

R47 You are giving us way too little credit and guess what? Newspaper, paper and online, and customer service still exist.

by Anonymousreply 4901/10/2021

I knew you'd say "just buy a newspaper." Don't know why I even bothered engaging with you.

by Anonymousreply 5001/10/2021

[italic] I also think a lot of the chaos we see in the midst of legitimately peaceful protests - no surprise - is planned by these far right-wing groups specifically to blur the difference.

Think?

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by Anonymousreply 5101/10/2021

And this.

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by Anonymousreply 5201/10/2021

And this (and it really can go on ):

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by Anonymousreply 5301/10/2021

Here are some examples of the censorship of minorities referred to by the ACLU. Just the first result in a very basic search.

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by Anonymousreply 5401/10/2021

I agree with R49 but would add, y'know, it's the (ignorant) masses who are vulnerable to this. I never relied solely or even much on cable news (except when CNN broadcast the Gulf War) and I've never relied on FB for news. I always used to read broadsheets and even now subscribe to WaPo, NYT (mostly for culture and crosswords) and The Guardian and listen to a lot of podcasts. And I've never seen Star Wars. But I've seen a lot of people transformed by social media, and not in a good way.

It still surprises me even today - the way this Delta thing is brewing on social media - and all of these right-wingers just dive right in, "Oh, this the future of the Biden administration - they're taking all of our personal freedoms!!" When I'm sure Delta will release details of why these two women were ejected from the plane which I'm sure will be similar to when people used to joke with TSA post-9/11 that they had a bomb in their luggage and then wondered why they weren't allowed past security and arrested, etc. Several of my right-wing family members were outraged on FB on Wed. afternoon with their photos of Bear-skin wearing "Antifa" members masquerading as Trump supporters, etc. and, by Thursday afternoon had deleted their posts because that was emphatically untrue. But why don't they pause and wait for the truth to emerge (which we know in this day and age, usually takes a day or two) before jumping into some manufactured fray of outrage? When will they learn?

by Anonymousreply 5501/10/2021

R51, you should really check yourself. People are trying to have a discussion here and you're just being self-righteous. You're part of the problem.

by Anonymousreply 5601/10/2021

Voter suppression of minorities, especially black voters, has gone unchecked. There's a real issue that should be dealt with.

by Anonymousreply 5701/10/2021

R54 Why were these examples not provided in the recently issued statement which was, you know, “concerned” with them and “not Trump”?

Also, the decision written about in the first paragraph should be okay because freedom of speech, right?

[quote] Mark Zuckerberg made several newsworthy choices this week. One — to invoke Holocaust denial as an example of content that Facebook should keep up because “there are different things that different people get wrong”...

by Anonymousreply 5801/10/2021

[quote]I never relied solely or even much on cable news (except when CNN broadcast the Gulf War) and I've never relied on FB for news. I always used to read broadsheets and even now subscribe to WaPo, NYT (mostly for culture and crosswords) and The Guardian and listen to a lot of podcasts. And I've never seen Star Wars.

If you want to talk about how you're morally superior because you read broadsheets and never let yourself get hooked on cable news or Twitter like the ignorant masses, please take it to one of our many threads about Those Damn Millennials (tm) and keep it out of here.

How you as an individual consume news is not relevant. The real issue here is that media and social media companies decided to make news and news commentary more available via social media platforms than through online newspapers, paper media, or sometimes even cable.

There's no use doing the back-in-my-day thing because that just ignores the reality of where we are now, and that is a place where the internet, including social media, is for all intents and purposes necessary for those who want access to news and important information. It provides avenues of communication for individuals that no other platform does.

by Anonymousreply 5901/10/2021

R56 Do the examples provided hurt?

by Anonymousreply 6001/10/2021

[quote] They're saying now is a good time to consider there should be a method of arbitration in place for this, for the good of all users.

That’s the whole reason why their argument is flawed. You cannot take the example of how Twitter moderates the president of United States’ account and apply that to all users.

Again, it’s an extraordinary situation triggered by extraordinary circumstances that ordinary users will never find themselves in.

So why create a framework that applies to them when it will only gum up the works and probably make things worse for regular users?

The ACLU should back off or find a better test case for this because what’s happening with Trump is not the model for user moderation on social platforms.

by Anonymousreply 6101/10/2021

[quote] If you want to talk about how you're morally superior because you read broadsheets and never let yourself get hooked on cable news or Twitter like the ignorant masses, please take it to one of our many threads about Those Damn Millennials (tm) and keep it out of here.

I don’t think R55 was trying to sound “morally superior” so if that’s how you read their post... yeah. The poster actually types sort of sweet and nonjudgmental.

by Anonymousreply 6201/10/2021

[quote] They had best believe that there would not be an ACLU if Trump got what he wanted earlier this week.

Exactly.

by Anonymousreply 6301/10/2021

[quote]How you as an individual consume news is [bold]not relevant.[/bold] The real issue here is that media and social media companies decided to make news and news commentary more available via social media platforms than through online newspapers, paper media, or sometimes even cable.

And neither is your ability to respond to, post about, like, or dislike said news relevant; it’s only so to your ego, which is what social media preys and depends on.

Also, you don’t have to have an account on Twitter, which is the most popular newsfeed for most, to view the tweets or the news posted on there. You just can’t tweet anything without an account which, again, is irrelevant.

by Anonymousreply 6401/10/2021

I’ll take this under advisement.

But until I’m fully confident admonishments like this from the ACLU could have prevented whatever Trump and his militants had planned last Wednesday or for next Wednesday or the Wednesday after that, I’m ok with Twitter and Facebook banning Trump and his ability to spew hate speech and incite violence. Goodbye to Parler too.

Didn’t the ACLU learn anything from their mistakes in Charlottesville?

by Anonymousreply 6501/10/2021

HI - they are private businesses. Thanks to gay wedding cakes, the republicans made it okay to refuse service to anyone for any reason - thanks! Bye!

by Anonymousreply 6601/10/2021

R66 PERFECT example. And don’t forget, they are able to deny baking a cake - any cake - even if they suspect you’re gay.

Let me not bake a cake for you because I SUSPECT you’re behaving and living in a way I don’t like.

Meanwhile, Dump the dumb, deranged, and retarded should be able to spew lies and incite violence ad infinitum, breaking platforms’ clearly defined terms of service because “freedom of speech”?

How about the freedom to live as I’d like?

by Anonymousreply 6701/10/2021

R15, in case you haven't noticed or are simply unaware of Life Before Big Tech:

There exists no---zero---legal or human right to "ways of reaching the media."

by Anonymousreply 6801/12/2021

on cue. Thanks ACLU.

How about. 1) making it clear that FOX is not news. 2) putting legal limits on spreading lies by government officials. 3) writing laws that limit speech promoting violence - so the social media do not have to be the cops.

by Anonymousreply 6901/12/2021
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