A few weeks ago, one of my Facebook contacts, whom I’ll call “Jane”, complained on her wall that Facebook had blocked one of her posts. Facebook and free speech myths ensued.
This is the transcription of the real “conversation” between me and another Facebook user, “Joe”, in the comments to that post from “Jane”:
“Joe”: (writing to “Jane”) sue them for breach of free speech and do them that way
me: “free speech” inside a private property? Right, that is sure going to work… Facebook didn’t prevent “Jane” from expressing those views. It only blocked her doing so inside their own property.
“Joe”: you are using a free service ther is no such thing as private property in that sense they have rules yes but none of what she said was against anything as she says so it’s free speech
me: “Joe”, you’re wrong. Read these pages, just as a starter, and continue from there:
- “The First Amendment doesn’t protect a user’s speech on a private company’s site”
- “Why there is no freedom of speech on Facebook”
- “Facebook and free speech
Those articles are about Free Speech as defined and protected in the USA Constitution, but the same general concept applies, in the same general way, all over the world: as far as we are concerned here, a Facebook account and its wall are pieces of Facebook’s private property, that Facebook allows you to use according to their rules. Rules that do not include Free Speech inside Facebook.
It’s the same thing that happens in your own house. Free Speech means you can’t forbid people to have and express their own beliefs, opinions and so on…in general. Not that you cannot kick them out of your house, if they demand to use your living room to give a speech on those topics. “Your” Facebook wall is nothing else but a tiny piece of the 1000% private living room of Facebook. Get over it. If you don’t like it, start to search for, and request, better alternatives.