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The Social Media Purge: Rights Against Business

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After Trump was banned from Twitter (and other platforms) his defenders argued that this violated his right to free speech. In addressing this matter, I need to distinguish between the legal 1st Amendment right and the broader moral right to free expression. While Americans often apply the idea of the 1st Amendment broadly, the law as written (LAW) is as follows: “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; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” As constitutional scholars have long noted, the protection afforded by this amendment only applies to congress and it does not apply to private entities. As such, the social media companies cannot violate Trump’s 1st Amendment right. In fact, businesses enjoy great freedom when it comes to exercising their power over employees and customers. An employer can fire an employee for holding political views they dislike, for social drinking outside of work, or for smoking outside of work. Employers also have a very broad right to surveil their employees at work or when using work equipment. While the government would need a warrant to read your work email or listen in on your calls made at work, your employer can do that at will. In some cases, they can legally put cameras in bathrooms to monitor employees. As would be suspected, Republicans (and many Democrats) seem fine with this level of power over employees. In the case of customers, businesses are largely free to deny customers their goods and services—the conditions under which this can occur is often spelled out in the end user license agreement or terms of service. This legal right of businesses has generally been upheld. It must, however, be noted that there are some limits to this right of refusal. Businesses are also often allowed to exercise other powers over customers, such as. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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