Ron Coleman has a white paper posted over at Likelihood of Confusion which suggests using a state-based consumer protection process to reign in censorship abuse by social media companies.
Political or ideologically-based corporate censorship of social media content and users is a discernable social, economic and political problem. As private conduct, it is not a violation of the First Amendment’s speech clause. The problem appears intractable because of a combination of broad statutory protections for online service providers, one-sided terms of service and a lack of federal regulatory acknowledgment fo the problem. This paper suggests, however, that a state-base consumer protection initiative requiring “good faith” application of social media platforms’ terms of service to user bans could overcome these obstacles and would be consistent with a wide range of consumer-oriented remedial regimes that have survived constitutional and other attacks.
That’s the paper’s abstract. Read the whole thing.
I’ve been on the receiving in of Twitter’s bad faith. My business and personal accounts were permanently suspended as the result of a false claim of harassment. When the legal case against me collapsed for lack of evidence and it became obvious that the complaint had been based on false testimony, Twitter told me I could have one of my accounts back. One. Not both. I elected to have my business account reinstated.
None of the accounts related to my false accuser were sanctioned in any way.
The sort of regulation Ron Coleman proposes is overdue.
UPDATE—I received an email this morning from a friend who tells me that Facebook won’t allow her to share content from Hogewash! because it violates their “community standards.” I’ll take that as a badge of honor.