Over the course of the last few years we have seen many heinous acts of violence and hate that have been exacerbated through the use of social media. For months Facebook told the public that they could not have influenced the 2016 election to then later say that 126 million Americans had received or viewed Russian politically charged advertisements. This is only one instance of social media influencing and affecting real world situations. In a CBS This Morning report, one of the anchors says, “Military personnel in Myanmar, used facebook as a tool for ethnic cleansing. This is not just spreading fake news.” (CBS This Morning, via Hasan Minhaj) These big tech companies all use the same excuse when defending themselves citing that “freedom of expression is one of our core values.” (Facebook Global Policy Management Head via Hasan Minhaj) These companies do not realize that there is a difference between freedom of expression/speech and speech that will lead to the discrimination, or even violence towards specific groups of people. The exact amendment deals with unlawful censorship, but unlawful refers to hate speech and abuse of others so protecting those who commit these heinous acts is basically corroborating in the murders of these people. This even goes back to last weeks article By Tim Wu who explains, “The First Amendment was brought to life in a period, the twentieth century, when the political speech environment was markedly differently than today’s. With respect to any given issue, speech was scarce, and limited to a few newspapers, pamphlets or magazines. The law was embedded, therefore, with the presumption that the greatest threat to free speech was direct punishment of speakers by government” (Tim Wu, p.1)
For more information on the Myanmar cleansing go to: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/un-thousands-rohingya-muslims-flee-myanmar-ethnic-cleansing-bangladesh/
The title of the chapter “The Myth of a Neutral Platform” refers to the idea of a platform that has no bias, no political agenda, and in some forms, unregulated as well. The reason this is a myth is because there is no possible way for the internet to be unbiased, because the people on that platform are biased and especially the people running the platform are biased. Gilespie says, “The more pressing worry about BBSs, website-hosting services, and ISPs was not that they would restrict speech on their own accord but that they could be obligated to impose restrictions on behalf of courts or governments, or pressured to impose them to avoid liability for the content they made available.” (Gilespie, p.27) There is no unbiased, unregulated platform because the people who run the platforms are liable and may face consequences for the things posted. For example what is happening with facebook after the 2016 elections and the ads that they let run to americans that changed the presidential race.