U.S. Senator Josh Hawley weighed in on the question of whether free speech is suppressed, under constitutional law, when private companies make rules about what can be posted on their social media sites. He says that Americans should be able to sue when Facebook limits their use of the platform, because Facebook has a monopoly. He posted this on his Twitter account.
Senator Hawley is one of a few lawmakers who have asked Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook to appear before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, to discuss how social media influences elections. Specifically, Republican legislators are concerned about the suppression of a disinformation article that claimed to prove Joe Biden was involved in unethical activities.
Responding to a social media post that explained that these sites aren’t government entities, and like other private companies, can set their own rules, and let the free market decide whether to accept those rules or turn elsewhere, Hawley declared that this wasn’t an accurate analogy. Facebook, he says, unlike your local grocery store, has a monopoly. It’s the only ‘supermarket’ in town, and they get to decide who can participate.
This, he posted on Twitter.
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 15, 2020
Oops. He was quickly, thoroughly, called out as a lot of folks pointed out that he himself was in fact posting on a website that was not Facebook.
I'm sure Parler will welcome you, Senator Hawley, R-Authoritarian.
— Deena Heg (@bikesalsa) October 15, 2020
Good point Joshua, so glad you made it here, on Facebook dot com, the only supermarket in town, where I'm reading this right now. Definitely on Facebook.
— Adam Nathaniel Peck (@adamnpeck) October 15, 2020
He is posting this on Twitter.
— Gaelen Schumann (@GaelenSchumann) October 15, 2020
You’re saying this on Twitter. To use a variation on your supermarket analogy, you’re basically standing in a Target and complaining about Walmart being a monopoly.
— Dan Flashes’ Very Complicated Shirts (@DanMoffTarkin) October 15, 2020
Well, no. You can also shop here on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc. And supermarkets are just like websites – you can go shopping anywhere you like, but if you start bothering other patrons with racism, sexism, and conspiracies, they'll ask you to leave.
— DP Cummerbund (@DPCummerbund) October 16, 2020
He should crosspost on Tik-Tok, Reddit, Pinterest, and YouTube just to make sure he reaches the widest audience.
— Joe Mirabella 🏳️🌈 (@joemirabella) October 16, 2020
Hawley has even proposed a law that would allow social media sites to be sued for ‘censorship’ and being unfair, and he wants the Senate to vote on it next week.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com