Monday, May 06, 2019
#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: MAY 6, 2019
As the Citadel of Free Speech here in Cleveland, we work to protect and promote the basis of our democracy by sharing related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century. Here's what's making the news – and what you should know about – in the past week.
Conservative organizers of a “Demand Free Speech” rally took their message to the steps of San Francisco City Hall Friday afternoon and were met with anti-fascist protesters.
The conservative protesters say they're being unfairly taken off of social media, and were in San Francisco to protest how their conservative message was being stifled.
The verbal clashes began just as the event was officially kicking off. Conservative protesters and members of the proud boys verbally sparred with anti-fascist demonstrators.
Tom Canaday from San Francisco organized the noon rally on the steps of San Francisco City Hall. Organizers point to the recent Facebook ban on prominent conservative voices including Laura Loomer and Milo Yiannopoulos.
A bill before the Texas Senate seeks to prevent social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter from censoring users based on their viewpoints. Supporters say it would protect the free exchange of ideas, but critics say the bill contradicts a federal law that allows social media platforms to regulate their own content.
The measure — Senate Bill 2373 by state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola — would hold social media platforms accountable for restricting users’ speech based on personal opinions. Hughes said the bill applies to social media platforms that advertise themselves as unbiased but still censor users. The Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bill last week.
“Senate Bill 2373 tries to prevent those companies that control these new public spaces, this new public square, from picking winners and losers based on content,” Hughes said in the committee hearing. “Basically if the company represents, ‘We’re an open forum and we don’t discriminate based on content,’ then they shouldn’t be able to discriminate based on content.”
Facebook announced Thursday that it had designated some high-profile people, including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who's notorious for using anti-Semitic language, and right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, as "dangerous" and said it will be purging them from its platforms.
Jones and his media outlet InfoWars had previously been banned from Facebook in August 2018, but had maintained a presence on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. On Thursday, Jones and InfoWars will be barred from Instagram as well.
Other people banned on Thursday included Paul Nehlen, an anti-Semite who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2016 and 2018, and fringe right-wing media personalities Laura Loomer, Milo Yiannopoulos and Paul Joseph Watson.