Carnes: Calling out lies not the same as censorship
This entire issue of being held accountable for lying is simple, really, for those with even a limited understanding of the First Amendment to our Constitution: Fact-checking a claim, regardless of whether it is on a platform or published, is not censorship or suppression of any sort.
It is common sense.
However, if the content of a claim is removed from a social media platform, that can indeed be construed as censorship, but only to a degree, as libel laws and slander also come into play. But I’ll leave those details to Vail Daily columnist and legal guru, Rohn Robbins, as my words on legality have as much impact as attendees at the 2020 Vail GoPro Mountain Games.
Twitter instead simply flags the claims, like Facebook has been doing for a while now, when content is highly questionable and deserves to be fact-checked, and just like any other social media outlet that chooses to, is exercising its First Amendment freedom of speech by doing so.
ImPOTUS, along with every other Tom, Dick and Karen in America, is free to post lies, just as Twitter is free to call out those lies. If questionable claims are out there for John or Jane Q. Public to consume, whether from the media, black people, white, gay, straight, left, right or a little curved around the edges, all deserve to be fact-checked.
Conspiracy theories and outright lies are peddled by different media outlets on both sides, but facts are facts — they do not change or have political allegiances nor care about your feelings or if they fit the narrative that helps you sleep at night.
In this case, the individual is a public servant, and must live up to his oath of office while being held to an even higher standard, as he is the presumed leader of the free world, with much greater responsibility than any of us. It’s hard to fathom an authoritarian power grab by conservatives screaming for more “Big Government” censorship, which would certainly lead to an explosion of frivolous lawsuits and a massive expansion of regulations.
And to think, all this time I thought this administration proudly prioritized deregulation, yet now it threatens to create a massive new bureaucracy to govern internet comments that it disagrees with.
When it comes to unsubstantiated claims, Twitter is allowing those claims to stand up to the scrutiny of facts, which in turn allows readers to hopefully think for themselves, and perhaps breathe a sigh of relief learning such claims are utter nonsense.
Besides, with all the little Trumpettes constantly spouting the “fake news!” mantra that they pretend to hate so much, why in the world are they upset that a social media outlet is cracking down on fake news?
A main facet of the First amendment is to protect the press and media platforms from the government, and just like attacks on the Second Amendment, is an attack on one of the core freedoms of our republic.
Either way, these threats of regulation are little more than the never-ending whines of an insecure narcissistic child, angry because he does not possess anywhere near the level of dictating control he thinks he deserves, and they have no real chance of becoming law.
In the meantime, I recommend he, along with anyone else insistent upon promoting false claims (cue the evil music), go on the dark web and claim whatever the hell you want. Just know that unsubstantiated claims that cannot be validated are known by the shorter word: lies.
And that way most of us will not waste time reading them.
Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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