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UK Internet Censorship – Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t

Monday, January 18th, 2021 (12:03 pm) - Score 2,568
Censorship image of hands bound by rope

Prompted by Donald Trump’s ban from social media, calls are once again growing from politicians for internet sites to be held liable if they remove lawful content and users. Soon it may be a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t, as the future approach toward protecting freedom of speech risks doing the opposite.

Over the past decade we’ve seen and heard a lot of examples concerning how user generated internet content has been used to spread hate speech (racism, bullying etc.), terrorism and a variety of other perhaps unwelcome traits of negative human thought.

However, the recent decision to ban the former (soon to be) U.S President, Donald Trump, from many social media sites, which contentiously occurred after he appeared to incite violence and continued to promote unsubstantiated claims of mass voter fraud, also appears to be catalysing another side of the argument.

Over the past few weeks’ a number of politicians, including some well-known world leaders of major democracies and even opponents of Trump, have suggested that it was wrong to ban him. Some countries (e.g. Poland) are now even proposing (here) that the removal of lawful content should also be against the law, regardless of whether or not that occurs on private websites. On the surface this seems like a perfectly sensible thing to say, but such things are rarely so simple.

Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s Prime Minister, said:

“Algorithms or the owners of corporate giants should not decide which views are right and which are not, there can be no consent to censorship. Censorship of free speech, which is the domain of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, is now returning in the form of a new, commercial mechanism to combat those who think differently.”

Similarly, politicians in the UK have begun to question whether the decision to censor or remove users from social media also turns such “platforms” into “publishers” by virtue of them curating, editorialising and removing such people (i.e. potentially exposing websites to another set of laws and regulations).. or bots, since these days it’s becoming harder to know if somebody posting a comment online is actually human.

Never mind the fact that the main reason why social media has taken such action is precisely because of pressure and new rules, often coming from those same politicians, to take action against hate speech, bullying etc. Many may thus ask, is it one rule for politicians (i.e. protect them from removal) and another rule for everybody else? Or can only politicians enjoy a full array of free speech, including the right to cause offence?

Oliver Dowden, UK Secretary of State for Culture (DCMS), said:

“Iran’s Ayatollah has a Twitter account, whilst the elected President of the United States is permanently suspended from holding one. Trump’s supporters have labeled that move censorship; the other half of the country has asked what took so long.

Norway’s Prime Minister has had posts defending freedom of expression deleted on Facebook because they contained the iconic “Napalm Girl” photo – an unintentional violation of the site’s child nudity policy – whilst in Myanmar, the same platform has been used to whip up hatred towards Rohingya Muslims.

Those facts alone should make anyone who loves democracy pause for thought. The idea that free speech can be switched off with the click of a button in California is unsettling even for the people with their hands on the mouse.

In reality, neither the passive “platform” nor the editorialised “publisher” truly hit the mark. Holding companies liable for every piece of content – for 500 hours a minute of uploads on YouTube alone – would break social media. But equally, when these companies are curating, editorialising, and in some cases removing users, they can no longer claim to be bystanders with no responsibility whatsoever.

However we categorise social media, one thing is clear: as with other forms of mass communication, democratically elected governments must play a role in regulating it.”

In simple terms, we now have a climate where websites that allow public input (social media, comments, reviews etc.) – that’s most of them on some level – are increasingly being required by politicians to do something that seems unworkable. On the one hand laws are being created to punish sites for failing or being slow to act against often ambiguous definitions of “harmful” speech (Online Safety Bill), while on the other we have the threat of new laws to protect “good” or “lawful” speech.

Between the two aspects of this debate is the question of where you define the line and then how that line can realistically be judged (context is three dimensional and often you can’t see one or more of those dimensions). The risk is that, in the feverish pursuit of trying to control and define the expression of human thought in minute detail, we risk putting internet content providers into an unworkable position for moderation.

The focus on tackling hate speech, which on big sites occurs too often for manual moderation alone to be fully effective, has resulted in the rise of automated filtering systems. In keeping with that there’s the age-old problem of how you define things like bullying or hate speech in the first place and then separate that from related content or context, which may include criticism of the same subject, as well as satire (e.g. people joking about blowing up a city in a video game vs actual terrorists), the right to cause offence, political free speech and so forth. Automated filters rarely get this stuff right or understand context properly, which leads to wrongful censorship.

However, the potential addition of laws to act against unfair removal adds another layer of cost and liability that will be hard for any website, both big and small alike, to bear. Put another way, it’s the damned if you do, damned if you don’t outcome. You’d need a moderator to watch almost every single user (economically unworkable online) and even humans can make mistakes or misunderstand context.

But then where does it stop? Will every newspaper have to publish every “letter to the editor” regardless? What about email servers that accidentally block legitimate messages via their anti-spam filters, are they to be classed as suppressing free speech too and the operator sued? In the end the only way for websites and online content platforms to avoid such a mass of chilling liability is not to allow any freedom of speech at all or to suppress it. For some leaders, that may even be the goal.

Certainly, some change may be needed, but finding the right balance so that government’s don’t end up forcing websites to close off user submitted content completely is easier said than done.

NOTE: The economic models for internet content are radically different from the offline world. Many websites, for example, can be written by just one person or a few people and yet be read by millions, despite running off a shoestring budget (this is how the internet works and remains one of its core appeals). Forcing such sites to implement unaffordable measures, which will also need to work across lots of different software, or requiring them to take on an impossible level of liability, is likely to be unworkable.

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68 Responses
  1. Avatar Scary stuff says:

    Not a trump fan but it’s a bit worrying when the world can decide to deplatform you and cancel you because they don’t agree with you. We’re heading down a very slippery slope when the tech giants can pretty much cut you off from the internet unless you also hold the same views as a left wing silicon valley CEO.

    1. Avatar timeless says:

      l get what your saying, but freedom of speech doesnt mean freedom from consequences, one thing has been for sure that many agree with, his comments were seen as an encouragement that lead to the violence.. that coupled with the fact that Trump has been very good at playing the media has lead to allot of issues over the past 4 years has lead to many issues.

    2. Avatar Bob2002 says:

      @Timeless

      The media have been bombarding us with the narrative that Trump incited violence with his language. When you actually cut through all that noise and look at what he said he asked the protestors to march “peacefully and patriotically”. That is all. He did not use language calling for violence.

      I understand that rowdy and potentially violent protestors invading iconic buildings disturbs the average American, but that was a result of very poor crowd control by the police. It was not Trump’s fault. Before the general election left-wing activists had intended to protest for weeks directly outside the White House – this would have attracted Antifa activists who are far more violent than Trump protestors. The Democrats supported BLM protests and avoided condemning Antifa violence, the media never claimed they incited or turn a blind eye to violence.

      The left/mainstream media hate Trump and have been trying to get him removed from day one, Pelosi tweeted the election had been hijacked in May 2017(a month later a left-wing activist activist tried to massacre 14 Republican congressmen at a baseball match – no consequences for Pelosi). The media and Democrats have been pumping out non-stop outrage and lies against Trump during the past four years – “incitement/insurrection” is just the latest hyperbolic nonsense.

      High profile lawyer Alan Dershowitz also agrees nothing Trump said has the basis for penalties under the law.

    3. Avatar Bob2002 says:

      @Bob200

      *…24 Republican congressmen…

  2. Avatar Phil says:

    Indeed it is scary. Trump had been voted in by a democracy and removed from Twitter by a dictatorship that are Twitter CEOs, not saying they were right or wrong, but it was their sole decision whatever their motives, nothing democratic about it.

    I suspect if Trump had another term they would not have removed him.

  3. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

    Fair comments, but what’s the solution? If the answer is more law to prevent that then you risk placing a chilling level of liability on potentially all websites. Many sites may simply elect not to allow content submission by visitors, which harms rather than helps freedom of speech.

    Equally if a platform has rules against certain kinds of speech and a user breaks them, then you could argue, why should a politician be treated any different from a normal user?

    1. Avatar James™ says:

      Sites should have clear rules as to what can and can’t be posted and if you break the rules then bye bye.

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Yes but we’re not talking so much about the rules set by sites, but by those set by the Government in law. Twitter, Facebook etc. already have rules.

    3. Avatar joe says:

      No convinced you can win Mark but wrt twitter etc it might be the case that you need an independent appeals process by law to prevent abuses and inconsistent application of whatever rules it has.

    4. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I’m not sure how we’d define winning on this one yet :)? It’s a difficult problem to solve and one without a clear answer. But would your proposal be applicable to the hundreds of millions of websites and services across the internet that allow visitors to create content on their pages, or restricted by size to only the biggest players? Matching the required resources to this scale would be tricky.

    5. Avatar joe says:

      I think applying it only to providers over a specified size would be proportional.

      Like all too many rules applying them at the micro level is sledgehammer/nut stuff.

  4. Avatar Matthew Williams says:

    I’m not quite sure what the solution is but the current implementation is not the correct one. You can not allow a small group of companies like Twitter and Facebook to have a great control on public thought it isn’t right at all specially in politics as lot of people are influenced on which way to vote by these platforms. Plus regardless of what Donald Trump says his account should not be banned at present he is perfectly willing to represent his views as a leader of a country. I was never a huge fan of Tony Blair but I never thought people shouldn’t hear his views.

  5. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    This entire issue has been brought about due to the woke snowflakes who live on twitter/social media and believe everything they see/read is the real world. Maybe schools should be teaching children about how real social interaction is a completely different medium and instill within them the difference between real life and the disinformation exchange the internet of today has evolved into. Stop this pandering to the political correctness Karens and allow people to be insulted.

    On a personal level, I believe Twitter/facebook should have banned Trump years ago. Everyone was aware how much of a narcissistic mafia boss he was and he should never have been allowed to run for president in the first place.

    1. Avatar Ted says:

      Just like Obama then?

    2. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

      No, not at all. Obama actually had common sense, an education and real statesmanship.

  6. Avatar Ted says:

    There is no such thing as “hate speech”. “hate speech” is a delusional term made up by new left-wing (alt-left) anti-blasphemer nutjobs to stifle criticism against their fanatic ‘woke’ religion.

    1. Avatar Gon says:

      ‘Political correctness’ is another unwanted left over from the Soviet Union.

    2. Avatar André says:

      This.
      As usual, the virtue signallers came up with laws intended to suppress free speech (under the guise of good intentions, and I’m sure they meant well) but once you start suppressing free speech it always goes out of control because “the devil is in the details”.
      Let’s ban hate speech: who defines hate? How can we be certain those definitions of hate are not abused for political power?
      Censorship (because that’s what this is) is getting in bed with the devil and ultimately no good can ever come out of that.

      Personally, I advocate the platforms as agnostic carriers of information. I really see no reason why Twittern or Facebook should be that arbitrary deciders of what I’m allowed to read about.

      Mind you, ultimately I would be happier with nuking Twitter, Facebook and the likes from orbit. I cannot see that the harm they’ve caused and are still causing is offset by whatever benefits humanity has derived from their existence.

      DOI: I have no Facebook or Twitter accounts

    3. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

      I agree Andre.

  7. Avatar Global Britain says:

    [admin note: removed repetitive trolling post]

    1. Avatar André says:

      We were trying to have an intelligent discussion.
      Trump is, in my view, a despicable person. Most of all because he lies. He lies blatantly and continuously.
      But deplatforming him at this stage (after he’s lost the election) is supreme hypocrisy from the tech industry. They were just waiting for an excuse.
      Also… it has sadly played right into the hands of the conspiracy theorist nut jobs.
      Not a very clever idea at all, I think.

    2. Avatar Randy says:

      will you go troll elsewhere, nobody wants to hear it. getting really tired of your constant RED WHITE BLUE nonsense. Nobody thinks you’re clever, nobody cares what you think, nobody finds you amusing, nobody thinks it’s funny to rip on gammons by posting RED WHITE BLUE every time UK does something.

      Seriously, grow the hell up and go away until you can have an adult conversation.

    3. Avatar Free speach for all! says:

      [admin note: removed repetitive trolling post]

      Is this censorship? Sacrebleu!

  8. Avatar Hans says:

    Fiat money is what enables such monopolies in the first place, a few laws against deplatforming will not solve the issue in the long term.

  9. Avatar Anthony Goodman says:

    If Trump should be banned, then every Democrat should have already long been banned given everything he is accused of now. The Democrats have already spent 4 years of his presidency doing much worse. Almost all of them claimed his presidency wasn’t real and was fake and he was a Russian spy, and almost all called for violence on the streets and even said they’d bail out anyone with their own pockets if you were arrested for violence.

    When Parler was shut down, three of the most trended statements on Twitter were, hang Mike Pence, kill all pigs (police) and killTrump. And yet everyone talks about calls for violence propagated on Parler.

    1. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

      Maybe because Parler was the very place the descent and sedition started growing uncontrolled in the first place?

    2. Avatar André says:

      OK, so then what?
      We ban the printing press lest any flyers “inciting sedition” get printed?
      Pretty sure this has been tried before with less than stellar results.

  10. Avatar James Matthews says:

    Firstly, I’m in favour of everyone should have a tracible ID against all their user accounts on the internet and any communication. Everything else is skirting around the issue.
    Why do we have so much bank fraud? Because Email’s are flawed because their is no tie to to digitality prove the sender, same for mobile/telephone fraud. They should all be digitally signed and so you can trust that the sender is who they are.
    All social media posts should contain a persons real name – And again a hidden tracible ID against them so they can be associated to their posts (as many can have the same names, etc). It’s generally why people behave better on Facebook to those on say Youtube because they actually use their real name (Facebook is nowhere perfect by you get the idea).
    This gets rid of all the sophisticated troll and fake accounts as some sort of digital vault would need to be correctly managed. Do you really think a paedophile would contact someone directly if his real name was showing with known traceability back to him?
    Why do you think that the Donald Trump et all need ‘special accounts because their verified’… Surely everyone should have one.
    I would think in world where we are closer to what we post and are responsible that our actions would be better.
    I don’t believe it’s correct to ban these individuals like Trump – He was elected and the people have to put up with that until he goes unless he goes. The more damage he does to his name the more people will turn against him.
    If a criminal act has been committed on a social media system, that’s up to the judges and the law to order the companies to ban him not for the platform to decide – As to me, that’s unlawful and creates a grey area.
    I don’t want a china type system, but their are certainly some things that they do right and making people responsible for what they post is a good idea (Obviously what they use it for is too much social control).

  11. Avatar Jonny says:

    Surely the idea that *anything* posted that is lawful cannot be removed is completely unworkable? How are you supposed to keep message boards on-topic, product reviews relevant to the actual item in question, blog comments suitable for the audience of a corporate website etc.

  12. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    Honestly, who give a flying fig that Trump’s no longer allowed on Twitter or facebook? I think its great he’s lost his avenue to just spread more lies, hate and disinformation. Hasn’t the entire planet had enough of him by now?

    Its not about censorship, its about what the person says and taking responsibility for your actions. As Trump has never once in his entire life done this, he should have been treated like everyone else on facebook and twitter and been banned years ago.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Yes, but the key point of the article is that Governments are looking at shifting that responsibility more on to the platform. The platform then has to contend with a much greater risk of legal action both for removing content and not removing it, placing them into a perilously difficult situation in terms of moderation and liability.

      I note a lot of people are thinking about the social media giants above, but this could just as easily extend to every website (devil is always in the detail). The very comment you post now, for example, or that review you make on Amazon or the opinion made on a technology forum. No website wants to be fully liable for everything its users say or be sued for removing content, so for some the only solution may be to close off free speech.

    2. Avatar Mitchell says:

      I do wonder if this is yet again another trojan horse which will end up harming speech even more by forcing small sites to moderate, perhaps many will close comments for good.

    3. Avatar John H says:

      An example of the strong arm of the law seemingly being used in an attempt to remove dissent. Glad it failed.

      https://wingsoverscotland.com/jethart-justice/

      I disagree with 99% of the views on that site, MI5 conspiracy theories abound but that is no reason to try and stop these views being made public on the internet.

    4. Avatar André says:

      I would argue that there are many comments boxes that serve no useful purpose and probably shouldn’t exist anyway. Most of the media outlets, for one.
      What possible benefit do we get from the BBC or Guardian or Daily Mail commentaries that serves any useful purpose?

  13. Avatar Darc says:

    I think that politicians should be held to a higher standard on social media, e.g. if they post a lie, spread misinformation, incite violence their posts, etc their posts should be removed. Some politicians are getting upset since they are going to lose a platform for spreading falsehoods.

    Also if every comment could be traced back to a real person(via some sort of id) then the police could manage serious infractions via fines etc. Half the problem at the moment is no one is easily held responsible for what they say, as a lots of people hide there identity.

    I think as with a lot of things in the world, a few idiots are going to make it a lot harder for some services to exist in there current form unfortunately.

  14. Avatar NeilM says:

    The platforms ultimately can’t win here and the politicians aren’t capable of looking far enough down the road, to see the implications of their actions.

    Personally I would go with more digital education, however I am not sure how many people would understand all the content channeling that goes on, and how it can take you down the rabbit hole.

    Ultimately as a user you choose to use twitter etc or not, and the platform is theirs, so if they want to block users, then that is their choice, they have their T&Cs.

    I know that in the US there is an argument about the loss of their first amendment rights, however as usual, people rarely bother to look up what is not covered by the first amendment. Trump was definitely in the

  15. Avatar Dave says:

    I think a bigger issue is journalists spending all day on Twitter and thinking that is represents the general consensus of views on political subjects. It doesn’t, it’s often a minority view given it’s predominantly a left wing echo chamber.

    Debate is stifled and people either leave the platform because anyone with different views is bullied, or increasingly these days, removed from it forcefully for expressing unpopular opinions.

    Questioning something is not denying something, but it appears that these are one and the same in the world of Twitter. It has become a vile place.

    1. Avatar André says:

      Twitter is the distilled hatred of mankind and I really don’t see what usefulness it has.

  16. Avatar Yatta! says:

    Denying service to a crazed orange Karen is not ‘censorship’.

    1. Avatar André says:

      Define “crazed”. Why is he crazed? By what standards? Should we ban all mental health patients from media platforms as well?

    2. Avatar Caracal & serval says:

      Censoring things is censorship, regardless

    3. Avatar Yatta! says:

      @André: Crazed by DSM-5 standards ;-).

      If anyone repeatedly breaches the terms of the any service, the service provider has the right to permanently exclude them from using their service.

      That’s capitalism and freedom, like it or lump it.

    4. Avatar André says:

      That’s a fair comment.
      But in that case the rules need to be applied to everyone equally. And what’s in discussion is this very same terms of service. I don’t think capitalism has anything to do with this.

      But yes, I take your point that “my service, my rules”.

    5. Avatar Yatta! says:

      @Caracal & serval:

      Censorship is censorship… Beanz meanz Heinz… and other meaningless repetitive and too often politicised slogans.

    6. Avatar Yatta! says:

      @André:

      If Trump were held to the same standard as all other Twitters (or whatever they’re called) he’d have been permanently banned long ago.

    7. Avatar André says:

      Yatta

      Yes, I grant you that the current timing of his banning is related to his stepping down of power. Being kept on was supreme hypocrisy from the tech industry, they clearly didn’t want to make a powerful enemy and as soon as he lost his claws they pounced.
      But you surely have to accept that there were posts inciting violence from “woke” causes that had no repercussions to the posters?
      I feel that I should make it clear again that I don’t support Trump. He is a liar and I abhor liars, I think it’s the supreme flaw.
      But I also abhor injustice and if the tech industry wants to be a paragon of virtue then they have to be coherent with their own T&Cs.

      Also, thank you for having an interesting discussion and making me think and reassess my own opinions. These intellectually stimulating exchanges if ideas seem to be more and more of a rarity. 🙂

    8. Avatar Yatta! says:

      @André:

      No doubt there are “woke” agitators who incite violence too. As that’s against the rules and they too should be banned.

      That said you also surely have to accept that the reach and influence of some silly nobody agitator is infinitesimal compared to a national leader?

      Thank you, you too.

    9. Avatar Anthony Goodman says:

      “Crazed by DSM-5 standards”

      Biden has dementia. Its pretty clear. So he should be banned from social media. Kamala Harris is pretty much a clear psychopath. Look at her evil joker laugh if you doubt that. She was the least liked democrat and came out with zero votes from the primaries when she was going up against Biden for the nomination.

  17. Avatar Caracal & serval says:

    “UK Internet Censorship – Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t”

    *looks at comments*

    “[admin note: removed repetitive trolling post]”

    huehuehuehuehuehuehuehuehuehue

    1. Avatar Tollingtons says:

      except we have a persistent troll on here (maybe is you and you’ve just changed your handle) who constantly posts the same tired old thing, every time like a 12 year old. The same phrase. It seems that the left/labour voters are extremely bitter and resort to constant trolling. If the UK launches a broadband satellite, there he is with his “red white blue” comments. If the UK wants to spend money on a project “red white blue” is there again.

      It’s boring. It doesn’t contribute to the conversation and I think most of us aren’t interested in hearing it. It also goes against the site ethics/rules. Funny how labour supporters are so childish and bitter all the time they have to go troll people. I think you/he would be better off trolling the Daily Express/Daily Mail.

    2. Avatar Not one of the permanently aggrieved... says:

      @Tollingtons: Good grief, what a lot of guff! The troll certainly seems to have gotten under your collar.

      You sound as bad, if not worse, with your angry little tirade.

      Follow your own advice and grow-up.

    3. Avatar Tollingtons says:

      dime store psychology student: I know lets just reverse the argument and say the same thing about you. (unimpressed face)

    4. Avatar King George says:

      Lol “no. You”. Not exactly a debate winning response there..

      Someone here has multiple personalities too. Me thinks the red white blue troll has no polar disorder or something.

    5. Avatar Alan says:

      Top notch bants guys. Really.
      Someone needs to go back to leddit. Or their Twitter safe space

    6. Avatar Harold says:

      My money’s on Tollingtons being the red, white and blue troll, he makes deflecting accusations and protests too much.

    7. Avatar Caracal & serval says:

      @Tollingtons Actually i am 12 but im not the guy from before i don’t know what happened with him since he got censored on a thread about censorship.

    8. Avatar Harold says:

      Caracal & serval: I wouldn’t bother even responding to Tollingtons / the red white and blue troll, his name and bizarre craziness gives it away, ‘Trolling-tons’. You’re only feeding his irate attention-seeking madness.

  18. Avatar Yatta! says:

    @André:

    If Trump were held to the same standard as all other Twitters (or whatever they’re called) he’d have been permanently banned long ago.

    1. Avatar Yatta! says:

      Ignore the above, I accidentally started a new thread, rather than respond to the existing one.

    2. Avatar Anthony Goodman says:

      If Democrats were held in the same standard as Trump, they’d all be arrested and thrown in jail for their actions.

  19. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    Maybe it’d be best it people accepted the consequences of their actions and at the same time if anyone is offended, then good for them, accept you’re offended and move on.

    I don’t believe what happened with facebook/twitter with Trump is a far comparison. There is a huge difference between joe bloggs and the president of the united states.

    At least one should know better than the other.

    Balance is the key here.

    I’ve said on many forums my views on Trump, if I offend him or any of his supporters I couldn’t care less quite frankly.

  20. Avatar NE555 says:

    ISTM that individuals should be held directly accountable for their actions, including their speech.

    If a platform allows anonymous or pseudo-anonymous accounts, then clearly the platform needs to take responsibility for what is said.

    However, given that Twitter has certified the identity of @POTUS / @RealDonaldTrump, then if he says something that is illegal, he should be directly held accountable for it. The police and the courts can deal with it (or in his own words: LOCK HIM UP!)

    What we have now is the likes of Twitter, Apple and AWS filtering content purely for commercial reasons, i.e. because they don’t want to be associated with it. This means they’ll filter what they consider to be distasteful, and while many people may agree with their assessment, it just provides fuel to the fire of those being censored.

    It is a tricky question though. For example, anti-vaxxers and COVID-deniers cause demonstrable harm – but freedom of speech (and freedom of religion) necessarily include the freedom to spout drivel.

    How is society best served: by making anti-vax propaganda illegal? Or by hoping the platforms will block it for their own selfish reasons? Or by letting this nonsense out in the open, and allowing rational debate to win the day?

  21. Avatar A says:

    The landlord of any public house has the right to bar a problematic individual from their premises. For example, if an individual’s actions place the viability of the pub in jeopardy (by upsetting other customers, or others in the vicinity). Obviously this cannot be done for discriminatory reasons; on the basis of race, ethnicity, etc. quite rightly.

    But if some errant customer is constantly getting drunk and swearing, or shouting, or smashing glasses… and causing other customers to leave, or consider not coming to the pub, I think everyone would have the view that the landlord ought to be entitled to kick out the person doing it, and ban them, for the sake of their business.

    I don’t really see the ‘freedom of speech’ argument is really applicable. Anyone barred from social media has other choices of social media to go to, or indeed, speakers corner. Or they can buy a printer and publish a pamphlet. Their ‘immediate audience’ may have been reduced. But their freedom of speech has not been removed. Also, a right to freedom of speech is a right to not be censored by the government. These social media platforms are not branches of the government. They are private businesses, just like the pub.

    The recent high profile bans were done based on a commercial decision. Those people banned were not of notable minorities, and they were banned for problematic behaviour that could easily have been seen as harmful to the platforms. The real crazy thing is why it took so long to get them banned.

    1. Avatar Anthony Goodman says:

      Oh right so what about the signs public houses used to have outside saying “No Blacks, Irish or Dogs allowed”. Is that ok….But hand on a landlord can ban any problematic person from its premises?

      Oh right, not when it comes to dislike of a particular demographic group. Right so now what if a Public House landlord said no Republicans or Conservatives allowed. Is that ok….Oh no again. Well that is what big tech is doing they are coming down hard on one political group for no reason than discrimination. If they weren’t then Antifa would have all been banned from Twitter and Facebook. Especially given the FBI have set Antifa as a terrorist organisation regardless of what senile Biden claims they are just an “Idea”.

  22. Avatar Paul johns says:

    Hope they dont ban people from filming the public and the police love people on youtube auditing police stations and mps…..

  23. Avatar Demmers says:

    Has it not occurred to anyone that the internet is the digital equivalent of a bookshop/library? The WWW is the bookshop. Facebook/Twitter are the publishers. Posts/Tweets are the books. Have the debate again, but this time replacing the internet with a bookshop/s, and now things have got a lot more interesting!
    Amazon in early 2020 banned Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, only to then re-instate it!

  24. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    I notice the thread on 5g (Mobile Operators Reject Call to Stop 5G Rollout Over Health Fears) has no comments allowed due to conspiracy theory idiots voicing their views and this not being palatable for OFCOM. OFCOM basically threatened to “sanction” websites who allow people to voice their opinions.

    Isn’t this a flagrant abuse of power that effectively censors the more educated of us from taking the mickey out of complete nutjobs?

  25. Avatar Paul M says:

    Trump appointed Ajit Pai, a lackey of the telecom’s industry, to the FCC whereupon he ended net neutrality. This caused two things, it allowed the internet services companies to control traffic and be selective about what to allow (and thus block access to rival services which is what they wanted), but it also ended their right to be treated as just a carrier. They could no longer claim immunity against whatever their customers were doing since they could now censor the internet. Before, they were just “dumb pipes”

    Here in the uk, larger ISPs had to start using “cleanfeed” to block access to certain types of pornography, but it wasn’t that long before it was used to censor politics, downloads, or streaming services not legal in the UK. I’m careful to make that point, there’s services on the internet which might be legal in other countries but not here.

    Governments want to be able to censor things on their terms, and their regulations have unintended consequences; this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, successive governments have enacted bad laws and had to fix it later or wait for the courts to sort out.

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