Christopher Lucero | The Sin of Failing to Understand

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Regarding free speech on social media, as opined in “our view” and a commentary by the editor Jan. 17:

What is the worst sin? Dishonoring the father? Murder? Maybe the collection of the seven deadly ones: Anger, Envy, Greed, Gluttony, Lust, Pride and Sloth? Maybe the worst is if you think the world owes you something, that things should be free, that your freedom to live should be untethered by commitment, free from your obligation to live up to moral and legal obligations inferred or explicitly stated?

Arguably, the worst sin is to fail to understand yourself, and the morals and the ethics you embrace. Without that understanding, the remainder of the definitive religious or secular definitions of sins are only words without any underlying life force.

How do we arrive at a failure to understand ourselves? Basically, a lack of introspection, a failure to consider the obligations and the covenants we have made by our assertion of existence in this world. I know…spacey, huh? It’s a failure where we have not committed to our commitments, have not examined what we signed up for.

So, social media. Is your Facebook, Twitter, or Parler account, you? Well, technically, it does not belong to you. Did you miss that? Forget? It’s right there in the (terms of use) agreement. None of what you post even belongs to you. Facebook has asked for definitive regulation to solve the perceived problem that arose, wherein people have forgotten that their postings are the currency they offer and contractually agree to in exchange for the free usage of the platform. Any argument that there should be “free speech” in any social media was subsumed by that contract as soon as you clicked and agreed to the (terms). You gave the social media company all the rights to do whatever they wanted, up to and including denying you access to their property, property you willfully exchanged for free usage of the service. What you provided became part of their asset basis.

The services are not government locales, and thus are governed by their own policies. Contractual law allows this, as long as law has not said it is disallowed. All arguments about social media and free speech blindly ignore this fact, and until that problem is resolved we are stuck with the situation.

For example, The Signal is allowed to freely ban anyone from their curated Disqus locale as they see fit, according to their policies, but there is really no negotiation. As it states in their TOU, their decisions are FINAL. Tim Whyte already has the benevolent dictatorial jurisdiction he said he wanted.

I also note that social media are NOT journalism, and postings on social media do NOT necessarily need to provide facts, truth, or evidence for their claims. Since the postings, the assets, are not journalism, they need not have any journalistic purity, no moral or ethical basis for the pursuit of fact or of truth. Since this allows nonfactual, untruthful and evidence-free assertions, the collection of that locale could be “weaponized” to slander or to promote unlawful acts (murder, for example) against another person or enterprise (or the government).

Policies of the social media locale must guard the enterprise from liability for those assets, and will condition those assets appropriately, stating for example that “this is not true,” even though it is recognized as an asset of the enterprise. The social media locale could suspend the postings — they are the property of the social media enterprise after all — and our legal system and contractual law allows the owner of assets to direct the usage or nonusage of their assets any lawful way they want. The social media locale can also freely provide the postings to our various intelligence services for their assessments.

There is no free speech once you have contractually signed over your freely provided content in exchange for the usage of the service. Your account is merely part of the assets of an enterprise that freely uses our rules for capitalism and manages its assets for its own benefit. You have no right to it, no say in how it is capitalized, or how it is used.

I also note that untruthful, nonfactual, evidence-free claims that are freed from the bounds of journalistic ethics will not likely be judged to be eligible for inclusion as part of a free press. To include such drivel would be to give up on truth. I doubt the Supreme Court will sign up for that. That would undermine the pursuit of law and justice itself.

Christopher Lucero


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