Should tech companies ban white supremacists from their platforms? | The Tylt
Should tech companies ban white supremacists from their platforms?
Others argue corporations shouldn't be the ones who decide what kind of speech can and cannot be tolerated. When we asked the Internet whether it's Facebook's job to uphold free speech, and the 58.1 percent answered yes.
We shouldn't place our trust in algorithms and software made by Silicon Valley types who exist in their own echo chamber. Whether you're on the right or left, there are a lot of reasons to be skeptical that tech companies will get it right.
The biggest problem is that these companies do not have people in their best interests. These are public companies with a fiduciary duty to its shareholders—not to the American people. They're here to make money, not to facilitate speech or the free flow of ideas.
Asking these companies to weigh in on culture wars is dangerous. They're never going to be on anyone's side—the left and the right both call foul over Facebook and Twitter policies. There's no due process when it comes to private companies. Asking for private companies to police speech, whether we hate it or love it, will not end well.
People say Airbnb, GoDaddy and Google did the right thing by banning white supremacists from their platforms. In the past, we've seen companies respond after the fact when something horrible occurs. Twitter is widely known for dragging its feet on harassment and often makes bizarre calls that no one understands.
Airbnb has struggled with discrimination and harassment in the past too. Reports found Black users routinely faced discrimination when trying to book a place to stay. An Asian woman was explicitly discriminated against on the platform. Airbnb's proactive banning before Charlottesville is proof tech companies can change and make smart decisions.
Of course, social media websites designed for free-flowing communication are much harder to moderate than a website with a focus as narrow as home-stays. But those sites can still follow Airbnb’s lead: When people in your community complain, you need to investigate and take action. That means not being afraid of pissing off thousands of people who use their platforms to share hate speech—which, yes, sometimes bleed into broader accusations of partisan bias, which social media sites are particularly loathe to incur. In an industry where losing users means losing money, booting anyone is a big deal, but it can also send a big message.