It started with Donald Trump and some people close to him getting banned by various Big Tech companies. Most people didn't bat an eyelid and instead, cheered the companies on. Although I did raise the concern that this could be setting a bad precedent, irrespective of how vile a human being Trump was.
Now, the de-platforming is about to affect normal people like you, and me.
If you are not familiar with it, MailChimp is an e-mail list marketing and distribution service. To put it simply, you pay MailChimp a certain subscription amount every month depending on the size of your mailing list, then MailChimp helps you manage and distribute content to that mailing list. They also have other value-add tools to help with marketing via e-mail.
In 2020, MailChimp introduced new guidelines on "Prohibited Content" which they have since been refining. Apart from just banning accounts that use their mailing lists for hate speech and inciting violence as Donald Trump has been banned for, they also specifically state that it is in their sole discretion to determine who to ban.
So, now, the de-platforming is not only reserved for Donald Trump and his associates, but it's coming for us ordinary folks too. Recently in January, MailChimp banned an American pro-Second Amendment Non-Profit Organization from using its platform to reach members on its mailing list. MailChimp cited that the NPO was too big a risk to have them as a client.
At this point, I have to highlight and admit that, despite my concerns that the ongoing de-platforming is a sign of censorship, any business reserves the right to reject clients. Also, if you look at most countries' constitutions, as much as they make a provision for freedom of speech, they also do state exceptions under which free speech is not permissible.
Take Section 16 of the South African Constitution for example:
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes
a. freedom of the press and other media;
b. freedom to receive or impart information or ideas;
c. freedom of artistic creativity; and
d. academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.
2. The right in subsection (1) does not extend to
a. propaganda for war;
b. incitement of imminent violence; or
c. advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.
So, as much as the de-platforming by Big Tech companies and others is a concern, it appears that they are well within their rights to do so. What should concern us is that we have given them too much power by making them monopolies.
It is time we created and supported alternatives because it could cost us more of the little bit of freedom of speech we have left on the web.
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