Is Freedom of Debate on the Internet Dead?

Is Freedom of Debate on the Internet Dead?

( – Online censorship is a serious and grave threat to many good people who believe in the First Amendment. Debate and questions surround the issue, and many wonder whether online freedom of speech really exists anymore. In 2019, Twitter began censoring then-President Donald Trump. In 2021, it evolved to other prominent Conservatives on multiple online platforms. The movement even devolved into censoring Conservative online websites.

Content moderation is also driving the backlash against social media companies. Even people who post to share their ideas with friends wonder if a social media moderator might blacklist them. It’s getting to the point where Conservatives believe there is too much censorship, and progressives feel there isn’t enough. Social media companies ultimately in business to make money are stuck in the middle between users, advertisers and the government.

Is the Internet Dead?

It depends on who you ask. There’s little doubt the days of posting whatever one wants are over, and yet it seems Conservatives take the brunt of the dispute. Curiously, 98% of all political contributions from Big Tech in 2020 went to Democrats. Did Big Tech executives and employees believe Democrats were likely to win Congress and the White House and wanted to win their favor? Do they really agree ideologically along partisan lines? LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman tweeted a common refrain among the Left: Trump was evil, needed to be defeated and threatened America.

If one believes that Conservative censorship was limited to social media, there’s much more to the story. Companies like PayPal, Venmo and Stripe pulled their support from Trump and Conservatives selling merchandise. Anyone can find themselves on the other end of a company boycott against them if they sense someone or something is bad for their business. That’s right; Left-leaning companies are taking their fight to consumers they disagree with politically.

However, there’s yet another side of the Internet. It’s still decentralized and virtually unstoppable. One can’t boycott cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Yes, there are drawbacks, but it is available. Redditt is another site that’s a hard-to-stop free speech platform. Newer sites like Parler are working on competing in the social media space.

Let’s also not discount that social media is a business. While the giant companies have agendas and rules they don’t equally enforce, they also have financial interests. They don’t want to eliminate all Conservative voices. Instead, they may want to manipulate them for economic and political gain. In the end, it’s about money. A recent whistleblower exposed how Facebook is more interested in profits and maximizing growth over safeguards in her testimony to Congress.

Where do all of the contradictions leave us? Can two opposites be true at the same time?

Should Americans be freer on social media platforms to share what’s on their minds, or is there a limit? If so, who defines what the limits are and controls speech?

Ultimately, one must ask if freedom of debate or the Internet is dead. The answer might be in the eye of the beholder, or it might be much more complicated.

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