Epik, a Seattle-area web hosting firm, has decided to do the right thing and not provide its services for 8Chan, a website that is a megaphone for violent radicals, such as the man who went on a deadly, anti-immigrant shooting spree at an El Paso Walmart Aug. 3.
It took a while for Epik CEO Rob Monster to make the decision to put public safety over personal profit, though. Monster argued that refusing service would deny the users of 8Chan their free-speech rights. That argument is specious.
There is no constitutional requirement that any person’s speech has to be disseminated by others. Say whatever you want. Go shout it on the street or in the middle of a forest. But do not expect to show up at the studios of Fox News or CNN or MSNBC and assume you can demand your own show. Do not stand at the doorway of the Washington Post or the Chicago Tribune or The Seattle Times and think you have any absolute right to have your viewpoint published. A television network or a newspaper has every right to act as a gatekeeper. In fact, it is an ethical duty to screen content because, once any idea is broadcast or printed, the purveyor of that idea owns a piece of it, even if it is something with which they disagree. They share in any bad consequences. This is as true for web hosts as traditional media.
It’s time for tech entrepreneurs to face the hard fact that the internet has allowed once-isolated extremists, sociopaths and terrorists to find each other and expand their influence. They should be ashamed if they take money to amplify those voices of hate and violence.
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