Twitter’s actions raise First Amendment questions


(NewsNation) — The fourth installment of the “Twitter Files,” an initiative backed by Twitter CEO Elon Musk to shed light on “free speech suppression,” was released by author Michael Shellenberger on Saturday night.

The latest portion of uncovered information focused on employees’ reactions to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, leading up to the ban of former President Donald Trump.

Former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Andrew Napolitano explained on “Morning in America” that what Twitter has done isn’t technically illegal unless the social media giant made decisions influenced by the government.

“So even though it (First Amendment) says Congress shall make no law today, that means that no government shall make any law or do anything that infringes upon the freedom of speech. But that does not prevent private entities from doing so. So Twitter, think of it as a private bulletin board. They can post and take down whatever they want, because they have political biases, like the rest of us,” Napolitano said.

He said in his interview that Twitter can only get into legal trouble if the social media platform was doing the government’s bidding, which means if Twitter was doing this as a favor to FBI agents, DHS agents or some group in the government that did not want Trump to get reelected.

However, the third installment of “The Twitter Files” reported that Twitter was indeed in communication with the listed government groups, causing controversy as to whether Twitter made decisions based on government influence or its own employees’ influence.

Democratic strategist Jason Nichols told NewsNation that Twitter obviously made mistakes by listening and responding to both political parties.

“I think when you start listening to political parties and political interests on both sides, I think that’s troubling for the company,” Nichols said.

But Nichols believes that “The Twitter Files” are being used to rile people up, despite most of the information being provided already being known to the public. He said that the information isn’t really surprising.

“This is really just something to get a couple of people fired up and for, you know, people like Donald Trump to move the goalposts and ignore the fact that he caused an insurrection that led to hundreds of police officers being harmed,” Nichols said.

Vince Coglianese, the host of “The Vince Coglianese Show,” disagreed with Nichols and said by saying that, it’s a way to bury the real story that Twitter mishandled suppressing political information.

“It wasn’t a conspiracy theory. There were legitimate voices that were being suppressed. We know as a result of this great report — and this is all new information, by the way — that popular conservatives like Dan Bongino were being suppressed by Twitter entirely, very aggressively,” Coglianese said.

Coglianese explained that the new reports revealed that Twitter was suppressing conservative accounts just because of its political disagreements with them.

“The reason all of this is so important is one: that you’ve got a big social media company that is a de facto town square for global communication, that’s suppressing only certain lines of thought — the ones they disagree with — and two: because the federal government has a hand in this. They (Twitter employees) talk about weekly meetings with the FBI, where the FBI is making requests for content to be censored up to and including during the election,” Coglianese argued in his interview with “Morning in America.”

While the two disagreed on Twitter’s handling of information, they did agree that there needs to be oversight for social media platforms that have such a great hold over public insight and communication.

Coglianese said there needs to be uniform and consistent standards for the company. Nichols responded, saying that back in 2020, it was uncharted territory for the situation that no one had navigated before and that it is important to remember how young social media actually is.

Regardless of Coglianese and Nichols’ disagreement and “The Twitter Files,” Napolitano said he believes it’s important to protect all speech, even hate speech. He said, “to protect all speech, we should protect the speech we hate.”

“The Supreme Court has ruled that even speech we hate, even speech that hurts and stings by its very words, it’s just speech and the remedy for it is not to suppress it or silence it. The remedy is more speech to challenge it. So even though I hate what Ye (formerly Kanye West) says, I’ll defend to the death the right to say it,” Napolitano said.

© 1998 - 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation