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Should Twitter and Facebook be Regulated as Utilities? - Dilbert Blog

Should Twitter and Facebook be Regulated as Utilities?

The Constitution guarantees every citizen the right of free speech. But what happens when the most effective channels for that speech are corporations such as Twitter and Facebook? Does the government have an obligation to make sure those companies are not limiting free speech for some classes of users?

My sketchy understanding of the law is that the government is only responsible for making sure the government itself is not abridging free speech. I think most of us agree that we don’t want the government volunteering for any more work than the constitution says it should be doing.

But shouldn’t the federal government get involved if a few monopoly corporations start to control the national conversation by filtering out voices that disagree with them? 

That seems to be the situation right now. For example, Twitter is apparently “shadowbanning” me because of my past Trump tweets, or so I assume. That means my tweets only go out to a subset of my followers. The rest don’t know I tweeted. My followers tell me this is the case. They have to visit my timeline to see my tweets.

@ScottAdamsSays Your tweets are not at all showing up in my tweetfeed. ????

Realistically, can I quit Twitter and be a successful media personality without it? Not in today’s world. The only way I could make that work is by having a huge presence on Facebook or Instagram.

But that might be a problem too. Instagram (owned by Facebook) just removed my girlfriend’s (@KristinaBasham) blue verification badge – on inauguration day – without explanation. Was that politically motivated? She has 2.7 million followers and lots of imposters pretending to be her. The blue verification badge was invented for situations like hers. We have no way to contact anyone at Instagram to fix it. 

The same thing happened a few months ago and we worked through a friend-of-a-friend to get her verification badge back. The official explanation was that removing it the first time was just a glitch. This time my contact didn’t reply to my email.

I can’t be 100% sure that Twitter is shadowbanning me to limit my political speech. They might have a bug in their system, for example. But it would be a big coincidence if they are not, given how many Trump supporters were targeted by Twitter in the past year. 

Likewise, I can’t be 100% sure my girlfriend is being punished by Facebook/Instagram for her association with me. But it seems like a big coincidence that she lost the verification on Inauguration Day. That lack of transparency is just as much of a problem as an actual abridgement of free speech. if I can’t know whether my freedom of speech is being limited by corporate overlords, how can I have trust in the Republic? And without trust, the system falls apart.

I want to trust my government, but without freedom of speech, I find that impossible. That’s why I support creating a law requiring the government to audit the major social media sites to certify that freedom of speech still exists for all classes of users. (Within reason.)

You might think there is not much risk of losing the right of free speech in the United States. But keep in mind that I have already lost my free speech in a practical sense. The social media tools you take for granted are not available to me in their full form.

If that doesn’t scare the shit out of you, it should.

A number of you have asked me whether I have been predicting recent political events with spooky accuracy or actually causing them with my own persuasion. You might get some insight into that question by watching what happens on this topic. My intention is to influence.

How am I doing so far?

Update: Kristina got her blue verification badge back from Instagram after several days. No explanation given.