An End Run Around The First Amendment By The Corporate State - It's Illegal As Hell And Should Be Stopped
And corporations and Federal officials who did it should be made to pay for this deprivation of rights under the color of law. It's a disgusting violation of the Constitution they were sworn to uphold
From an article in Tablet: “The Missouri documents, along with some obtained through discovery in Berenson v. Twitter and a FOIA request by America First Legal, expose the extent of the administration’s appropriation of big tech to effect a vast and unprecedented regime of viewpoint-based censorship on the information that most Americans see, hear and otherwise consume. At least 11 federal agencies, and around 80 government officials, have been explicitly directing social media companies to take down posts and remove certain accounts that violate the government’s own preferences and guidelines for coverage on topics ranging from COVID restrictions, to the 2020 election, to the Hunter Biden laptop scandal.
Correspondence publicized in Missouri further corroborates the theory that the companies dramatically increased censorship under duress from the government, strengthening the First Amendment claim. For example, shortly after President Biden asserted in July of 2021 that Facebook (Meta) was “killing people” by permitting “misinformation” about COVID vaccines to percolate, an executive from the company contacted the surgeon general to appease the White House. In a text message to Murthy, the executive acknowledged that the “FB team” was “feeling a little aggrieved” as “it’s not great to be accused of killing people,” while he sought to “de-escalate and work together collaboratively.” These are not the words of a person who is acting freely; to the contrary, they denote the mindset of someone who considers himself subordinate to, and subject to punishment by, a superior. Another text, exchanged between Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and another CISA employee who now works at Microsoft, reads: “Platforms have got to get more comfortable with gov’t. It’s really interesting how hesitant they remain.” This is another incontrovertible piece of evidence that social media companies are censoring content under duress from the government, and not due to their directors’ own ideas of the corporate or common good.
Further, emails expressly establish that the social media companies intensified censorship efforts and removed particular individuals from their platforms in response to the government’s demands. Just a week after President Biden accused social media companies of “killing people,” the Meta executive mentioned above wrote the surgeon general an email telling him, “I wanted to make sure you saw the steps we took just this past week to adjust policies on what we are removing with respect to misinformation, as well as steps taken further to address the ‘disinfo dozen’: we removed 17 additional Pages, Groups, and Instagram accounts tied to [them].” About a month later, the same executive informed Murthy that Meta intended to expand its COVID policies to “further reduce the spread of potentially harmful content” and that the company was “increasing the strength of our demotions for COVID and vaccine-related content.”
Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter and a prominent critic of government-imposed COVID restrictions, has publicized internal Twitter communications he obtained through discovery in his own lawsuit showing that high-ranking members of the Biden administration, including White House Senior COVID-19 Advisor Andrew Slavitt, had pushed Twitter to permanently suspend him from the platform. In messages from April 2021, a Twitter employee noted that a meeting with the White House had gone relatively well, though the company’s representatives had fielded “one really tough question about why Alex Berenson hasn’t been kicked off from the platform,” to which “mercifully we had answers” (emphasis added).
About two months later, days after Dr. Fauci publicly deemed Berenson a danger, and immediately following the president’s statement that social media companies were “killing people,” and despite assurances from high-ups at the company that his account was in no danger, Twitter permanently suspended Berenson’s account. If this does not qualify as government censorship of an individual based on official disapproval of his viewpoints, it would be difficult to say what might. Berenson was reinstated on Twitter in July 2022 as part of the settlement in his lawsuit.” https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/arts-letters/articles/government-privatized-censorship-regime
These actions by the Federal Government are an example of prior restraint which has been found to be unconstititional and repugnant to the First Amendment. In New York Times v US (1973), Justice Hugo Black wrote:
“…[T]he Executive Branch seems to have forgotten the essential purpose and history of the First Amendment. When the Constitution was adopted, many people strongly opposed it because the document contained no Bill of Rights to safeguard certain basic freedoms. They especially feared that the *716 new powers granted to a central government might be interpreted to permit the government to curtail freedom of religion, press, assembly, and speech. In response to an overwhelming public clamor, James Madison offered a series of amendments to satisfy citizens that these great liberties would remain safe and beyond the power of government to abridge. Madison proposed what later became the First Amendment in three parts, two of which are set out below, and one of which proclaimed: “The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.“ (Emphasis added.) The amendments were offered to curtail and restrict the general powers granted to the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches two years before in the original Constitution. The Bill of Rights changed the original Constitution into a new charter under which no branch of government could abridge the people’s freedoms of press, speech, religion, and assembly. Yet the Solicitor General argues and some members of the Court appear to agree that the general powers of the Government adopted in the original Constitution should be interpreted to limit and restrict the specific and emphatic guarantees of the Bill of Rights adopted later. I can imagine no greater perversion of history. Madison and the other Framers of the First Amendment, able men *717 that they were, wrote in language they earnestly believed could never be misunderstood: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom . . . of the press . . . .” Both the history and language of the First Amendment support the view that the press must be left free to publish news, whatever the source, without censorship, injunctions, or prior restraints.” https://www.thefire.org/first-amendment-library/decision/new-york-times-co-v-united-states/
So what has happened is that the Federal government has colluded with Twitter and Facebook (and their subsidiaries, with interlocking boards of directors) to make them into what is the effectively sole public forum in the United States - and for a lot of countries in the rest of the world. These companies have been allowed to buy out their competition, or to drive them out of business, and the laws against antitrust and unfair business practices have not been applied, as was well warranted, and as a result they have monopolies, much like the Telephone Company before it was broken up, and the market freed from their stultifying dead hand. Except they are doing something the Telephone Company never did - they are surveilling, manipulating, harassing, and censoring their customers for private gain. And now the Federal government, in order to enforce policy decisions, has used this monopoly status that it created to surveil, manipulate, harass, and censot those who oppose those policy decisions, using these monopolies as willing corporate puppets, to do that which would be stopped by the courts if the government and its agencies did so in a direct fashion, much as has been done in Putin’s Russia and Xi’s China. And this needs to be stopped, these monopolies broken up, and their stranglehold on free speech broken - and for good.
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