Luis Alvarez Talks to Tech Talk about Social Media Censorship and Free Speech Legalities
Luis Alvarez of Alvarez Technology Group, a leading IT services company in Salinas, CA, gave an interview to Tech Talk entitled, “Is Sponsored Content Being Censored on Our Social Media?” and brought up some very interesting points. Right now, the talk about social media is a bi-partisan issue, according to Alvarez, with both the Republican and Democratic parties complaining of censorship. However, it seems the right — especially far-right conservative voices — are being silenced more often. In lieu of this, should the laws change to harness what some see as an attack on free speech by technology giants? Some say yes. But what does Luis Alvarez have to say about this?
It’s important to note that President Trump has approached the FCC concerning this new freedom of speech movement, which is no surprise considering the ample time he spends on Twitter. Millions of voices, like the President’s, feel their free speech is threatened by technology companies, who in turn are protected by the 1996 FCC Section 230 Communications Act, which allows social media companies, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, to be exempt from liability. This means that the companies can pick and choose what content they want on their site on a case-by-case basis. It’s similar to a newspaper, as the host of Tech Talk points out. Newspapers do not publish every letter to the editor, every complaint they receive, so why should social media companies do the same?
If Section 230 were to be reinterpreted, we would see a “massive wave of litigation,” according to Alvarez. “This could lead to new problems,” he goes on to say. The social media companies could come back and say they now allow 0% political speech on their platforms. One thing we also have to remember is that free speech is not entitled to private enterprise. When you work for an employer, while you’re on the clock, you don’t have free speech. The same is true of places like social media. Freedom of speech doesn’t necessarily apply to social media because the companies are private and at the same time protected by law.