Did Big Tech Violate the First Amendment?

Many of us have grown up in the age of technology, so we are pretty used to seeing terms and conditions agreements. However, if you are not familiar, terms and conditions are basically a set of rules that private companies list in order for you to use their services. Unfortunately, and what seems to be obvious, is that a lot of people do not usually read these. In recent more recent news, many conservatives have been saying that private social media companies banning and fact-checking on their posts infringe their first amendment rights. I personally believe this is quite hilarious because each amendment has restrictions or limitations to it.

In the case of the first amendment, private companies can simply ban you if you violated the rules. They can determine what is fit or not for their platform. However, an actual infringement of the first amendment would be the government restricting speech and limiting our vocabulary, like Newspeak in George Orwell’s "1984." Another example, something probably way less scary for conservatives, is that the government requires everyone to speak English, or they will be punished. Our Constitution forbids an official language or religion being placed upon the United States, so this would be an absolutely unconstitutional law. Washington DC capitol building trump protest Photo by Tyler Merbler distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license

Moreover, these complaints about “Big Tech” banning Donald J. Trump from all his social media platforms and fact-checking the things users post is extremely minuscule in comparison to the horrific inequality others face. Especially since Trump incited a violent riot at the Capitol earlier this year, in which multiple people had died. In addition, his speeches and social media posts caused multiple incidents in numerous cities that day, such as the random and senseless attack on Berlinda Nibo. Personally, I believe Trump was inciting violence beforehand with his xenophobic, racist and misogynistic rhetoric, but it took these companies his entire four years to do something.

Fact-checking is also extremely important in today’s society, so I do not really understand why people get upset when Facebook or Twitter checks what they post. A lot of people believe anything they see on the internet without checking it, so I feel like this is a good safeguard to prevent the spread of misinformation. However, I have noticed that social media users usually see this as a challenge or think the media is out to get them for their political beliefs. I have seen this, especially from my conservative family members, but they fail to realize all posts are fact-checked. In fact, I have had a couple of my left-leaning posts be removed or censored because context was missing.

All I have to say is that this huge social media platform versus first amendment right debate is kind of silly. All of these companies list guidelines in order for us to use their services. Once we break a rule, they have free reign to kick us off their platform. That’s just simply actions having consequences, so please read your terms and conditions.