California court sides with Twitter on right to ban users for speech considered hateful

ByKris Reyes via KGO logo
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
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A California appeals court has sided with Twitter, ruling the platform has the right to ban users for speech they consider hateful.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A California appeals court has sided with Twitter, ruling that the social media platform has the right to ban users for speech they consider hateful.

The decision is more fuel to the fiery debate about the role tech companies play in regulating conversations on their sites.

You can read the ruling here.

"Facebook and Twitter have long denied the fact that they are media companies, but ultimately, they are coming to the conclusion that they do need to be more proactive about the content on their platforms," said Roger Cheng, head of news at CNET.

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The most prominent example is when Twitter banned President Donald Trump from the platform after the Capitol riots.

Now, a California court has validated that right with a decision ruling in favor of Twitter's right to kick users off their site.

In this case, a Canadian writer filed a suit against Twitter after she was banned from the platform over tweets about transgender women.

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According to court documents, one of the tweets that got her account suspended said "Men aren't women."

The judge ruled, Twitter has the right to ban users for certain speech.

"I think it's important to recognize that trans people are a vulnerable group of people, that there's a lot of hate directed against them. And I think it's important that social media platforms live up to their responsibility of protecting vulnerable people, like you have done in this case," said Etienne Brown.

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As social media platforms have become more toxic, companies like Facebook and Twitter have been criticized for doing too much or too little.

"It is leading to some questions about the role that these companies play and whether or not they should be the ones that are stamping out voices on their on their platforms," said Cheng, adding that these companies are now putting a lot of manpower into figuring out their next moves.

Experts agree the rules of social media engagement have changed dramatically over recent years and both users and the platforms will have to keep up.

"I do think that they're strong ethical reasons to regulate and ban hate speech and misinformation on their platforms, because those are the kind of speech that can lead to harm," said Brown.