Journalism for the Web

Does free speech really exist?

March 29th, 2016 . by Justin Schultz

Free speech exists in America, but not really.


Let me explain.

We are allowed to say and write anything we want. Donald Trump can say whatever he wants about immigrants. He can say that he could shoot someone and still win the election. He is absolutely free to do that. But these comments, or any comments similar in nature, will receive backlash and will have consequences.


Is that really free speech?

If I went on Twitter right now, and tweeted that I hate all races that aren’t white, would I be chastised? Absolutely. Am I allowed to say that on Twitter? Well, it depends. If enough people report my tweet, Twitter has the right to shut down my account or suspend it. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t sound like free speech to me.

I understand that Twitter has its own rules and regulations, but its regulations should not overrule the U.S. Constitution.

Freedom of speech does not exist on Twitter, and I’m not sure it¬†really¬†exists elsewhere. We won’t get arrested based on our speech, unless we are actually threatening someone, but that doesn’t mean we’re free to say whatever we want.

If anything, we have freedom of speech*.


*with exceptions

3 Responses to “Does free speech really exist?”

  1. comment number 1 by: Kyle

    When considering freedom of speech on the Internet, you have to consider the platform. Yes, on Twitter you can’t say anything, because it’s Twitter’s platform. They can use any rules they want to regulate speech in that space. It’s their space. Just like if someone in your home started saying things you didn’t like, you’d have the right to kick them out. You’re free to say what you want in public. If you say something controversial on a street corner, that’s a public space. You can do that (as long as you’re not trying to incite a riot). On the Internet, you must always as yourself if you’re in a public space or not. Most of what happens on the Internet is not happening on a public platform.

  2. comment number 2 by: ANDREA SIDLAUSKAS

    But we’ve known about those exceptions for awhile. When we learned about the Bill of Rights in seventh grade, we learned that freedom of speech does come with exceptions, because you can’t go into Jessica’s Family Restaurant and yell “Fire!” knowing quite well that there is no fire. And while I don’t think Twitter should have the ability to override the Constitution, I do think that setting some limitations is necessary.

  3. comment number 3 by: Melissa Ramirez

    I agree with Andrea on this, I don’t believe that Twitter should have the ability to override the Constitution, but I do think that there should be some limitations. I do also strongly believe that as a country that is know for it;s grand democracy, we here unlike in other countries have a voice, we can vote and make changes. In other countries, we could be killed by now. In many ways there should be limitations, not completely overriding people from having the right to speak up. Social Media has been the in between of many things that have accused and due to social media like twitter, and kids talking !@#$ is that many kids have lost their lives for having the right to call others out their names and begin fights that have turned out to be more than a few punches.

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