2017 has been a huge year, highlighting some of major struggles to come to society. Among these battles is the right for the First Ammendment, which protects US citizens from being silenced for unpopular speech. This year, however, is proving that government restrictions on free speech isn’t our greatest concern. Instead, the influence private companies hold over our basic rights is one of our major concerns.
Patreon has pulled support for platforms they find disagreeable. YouTube has begun demonetizing and removing videos with content that doesn’t align with their views or expresses views that may not be favorable.
Granted, I’ve come under criticism from friends because of how bad some of this “unfavorable” content is. However, I believe that all speech should be protected, regardless of how unpopular it may be. I don’t agree with Neo-Nazi platforms, but I will hold up their right to speak so long as I get to criticize it.
Ultimately, companies do have the right to regulate their own service. YouTube does have the legal right to pull content from their site and Patreon has the legal right to pull their service from platforms. However, although it’s legally right, It’s morally wrong.
YouTube has been a beacon of free speech until recently. Anyone can post a video giving criticism to ideas or express their own ideas. Don’t like how your teacher teaches a topic? There are several YouTube videos that can give you a better and more in-depth explanation on whatever you need. Platforms such as YouTube open up more possibilities than we could have ever imagined a few days ago. It allows everyone to showcase an idea or express their thoughts to the public.
That is, until recently. It may start with the removal of heavily unpopular viewpoints but what does that means tomorrow? Tomorrow, if YouTube dubs Donald Trump as offensive, do alt-right Republicans loose a vital platform to show support or even correct any possible misgivings about him or their political party? Do Democrats who don’t believe in social justice warrior ideals lose their ability to propagate their message?
We have two options: find another service or voice our stance on this issue.