Freedom has been one of the cornerstones of America’s existence. Freedom of speech, assembly, press, religion, and the right to petition the government is enjoyed by every American citizen, making them the freest in the world. A constitutional issue: Parlor and YoReSpot are examples of the freedoms we enjoy as United States Citizens that are being censored and removed.
The founders demanded that an amendment must be there before they accept the constitution, guaranteeing to safeguard these freedoms for all American citizens. Thus, they added a modification for this reason known as the First Amendment.
This amendment is there for all people to enjoy. Even if you are not an American citizen, you will still enjoy all the rights present in the constitution, and thus the First Amendment protects them. There is no legal age or race required to claim these rights. This amendment protects the people’s rights against discrimination and against government policies that may cause harm to them.
This amendment also protects you in a scenario where you are being forced to say or do something that you do not want to. This all sounds good on paper, but who is there to protect the First Amendment itself?
Freedom of speech is one of, if not the most fundamental rights that everyone in the world should enjoy. Its importance is so much so that a particular modification in the constitution was done as stated above. But, in today’s world of technological advancement, it is effortless for governments and people in positions of power to do as they please with the masses. The scholars of the First Amendment consider freedom of speech as a core American belief. Its importance is apparent from the fact that this right is deemed a secular religious tenet.
After all these measures to protect the people’s rights, where has the freedom of speech gone in this advanced world where everyone is talking about equality and liberty? Why is this concept only limited to lectures and promises? Are we free to say and do anything within the legal limitations? The short answer would be NO.
No matter how painful it may be to realize, but the truth is that we are not free to say or do according to our wishes. We do not even see things freely. People are not free to express themselves, media is not free to communicate freely, and social media is not free from governments and policymakers’ influence. The constitution promises freedom of speech for everyone, but it is becoming more of an illusion and a pipedream than a reality.
Social Media was supposed to be a platform where people would freely stay in touch with their friends and family and share their life and opinions. But, it has become a place for governments and businesses to further their agenda. Companies use our information for their marketing strategies, and some of them even sell our data to other companies.
Television has gone from being an entertainment tool to being a weapon for the government to control the masses. They control the information flow under the disguise of “Free Media” and control what is made known or not. Information has become one of the most valuable assets in today’s world. Knowledge provides power and leverage, and if you have a hold on the flow of knowledge, you hold everyone.
This is the strategy that the government is leaning towards more and more, and it is only a matter of time when “Free Media” will be reduced to merely a phrase with no actual meaning behind it.
Many people know about Parler. Suppose you are from the group of few who don’t. In that case, Parler is a social media networking site that found its basis from the First Amendment principles, i.e. everyone is free to say whatever they want without limitations or judgment.
Although it does not enjoy a credible reputation as it is filled with conspiracy theorists, Trump supporters, and downright extremists, it does provide the freedom that the platform promises. The guidelines offer leniency in what is shared on the site, but some filters remove abusive and hate speech.
The microblogging and networking service recently found itself in a little bit of a controversy when the three major app providers removed the Parler App from the stores. App Store, Google Play, and Amazon AWS removed the app from their lists after charges of misconduct on the community guidelines.
Notably, Apple had contacted the site to revise its guidelines and impose certain restrictions. Apple has a strict policy on what the users can and cannot do. On the other hand, Parler’s policies are based upon the First Amendment, which translates to the people having complete freedom of doing whatever they want. This considerable contradiction resulted in the suspension of the app from the Apple Store.
According to the report published by Bloomberg, the app tried to re-enter the store. Still, Apple denied re-entry, saying that the store has no place to accommodate “hateful, racist and discriminatory content”. The networking service issued a statement some months prior that some negotiations were underway to get back on the App Store, but after the App Store denied to accommodate the site, Parler let go the remaining three iOS developers from its team, which leads to the assumption that the site will close its services for the Apple users permanently.
The U.S government is busy discussing the regulations that it should have imposed on the Tech. Companies, urging them to regulate their content. The government did not do it and thus left the companies to place these regulations according to their own accord. But now, the government is narrowing down on the companies that offer freedom of expression.
Parler has cleared up its stance in a statement, saying that it has implemented filters to remove hate speech and abusive comments to avoid threats of real-life violence and physical harm. Still, it did not go further to comment on the allegations that were put by Apple.
YoReSpot is another networking site that found its base on uniting people of all beliefs and the freedom of speech for everyone. Brandon Irlbeck, the service founder, has found himself attacked by many merchant companies and got his account suspended with a warning.
Notably, Paypal Inc. was the first to ban Irlbeck’s business account, and then Stripe quickly followed to do the same thing. After these two setbacks, the recent company to target Irlbeck is Venmo.
YoReSpot is a site that stands for peace and unity among the people, but Venom has targeted the founder, Brandon Irlbeck, and his family. Venmo has imposed a permanent restriction of his account and warned him to remove all references to Venom from his site. Irlbeck addressed this situation by saying that this is about control. They cannot save money if they cannot even transfer them to their bank accounts. “What’s even worse,” Irlbeck said, “they banned my fiancé’s account as well, with the same warnings.”
They both received the same email within minutes apart from Venmo, saying that Venmo has permanently limited and discontinued their accounts. They asked them to remove all references to Venmo from YoReSpot, even though these were not business accounts and had nothing to do with YoReSpot. Irlbeck tried multiple times to recover the money from his account but to no avail. A total of $14,000 is lying in his suspended account, and he tried to transfer this to his bank account by Venmo denied the transfer multiple times.
These incidents make it more apparent that the government and influential companies do not like freedom in ordinary people’s hands. They will try their best to suppress the masses to keep their control and monopoly over the essential aspects of everyday life.
But, the question arises if these restrictions are beneficial for anyone in society? The answer to this is NO. A constitutional issue: Parlor and YoReSpot are examples of platforms that people can share opinions and read various content on information that they themselves value as important.
This dictation and micromanagement of media will not prove to be beneficial for anyone involved. People will feel cornered and isolated if they cannot think, speak and express themselves freely, and these things often lead to rebellion. From an economic point of view, many regulations and restrictions hinder organizations’ progress and financial growth. From an ethnic point of view, minorities and other groups of people will feel left out, causing psychological damage to individuals and society as a whole.
So, no matter how you see this, these restrictions will not turn out good for anybody. Freedom is a natural need of humanity. People cannot properly function if they are caged, physically or mentally.
The government and influential organizations are treading on dangerous ground with their increasing regulations and violations of fundamental rights of freedom of expression. The fact that companies are specifically targeting the services and sites that offer complete freedom of speech to their customers and that are fundamentally based on the First Amendment principles says a lot about the trend that is prevailing in this world.
Freedom is the right and an innate need for every human being. America is a country based on the freedom of its citizens. But, if the people in places of power start seeking control over ordinary people’s lives, it will cause many problems. Not only is it a direct violation of the First Amendment our founders put forward to ensure the safety of our people, but also these steps are leading towards an environment of insecurity among the masses and a possible rebellion against the authorities. A Constitutional Issue: Parlor and YoReSpot is the start. What is the next attack for our government and the mega-corporations to control our voices?
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