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18 U.S. Code § 241 - Conspiracy against rights

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; ...

They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; ...

Recently Alex Jones received bans from Youtube, Facebook, Spotify, and Apple.

I heard that this occurred soon after an annual meeting of the heads of these companies, and it seems that the coincidence of these bans was likely the result of an agreement between the companies.

It seems that 2 or more persons have conspired to oppress Alex Jones because he has exercised his right to freedom of speech.

This law seems to prohibit oppressing someone because they exercised their right to free speech.

1) Does he have a right to free speech?

2) Was he exercising his right to free speech on their platforms?

3) Did they ban him because he was exercising his right to free speech on their platform?

4) Does their ban constitute "oppression"?

If yes, which body has jurisdiction over this and what actions would Alex Jones need to take in order to achieve justice?

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The right to free speech is a right that is guaranteed against the federal and state governments only. It is not a right that is secured against private individuals and corporations. It is also neither absolute nor unconditional, as there are a number of exceptions/limits. Alex Jones could not walk into your home and start "exercising free speech" and leave you with no recourse whatsoever to remove him from your home. If you don't consent to him being there, you may legally tell him to leave and have him removed by force if he fails to comply. Facebook etc. are the "homes" of the relevant corporations. They simply told Alex Jones to get out and go somewhere else. He retains his right to free speech; he simply never had a right to speak wherever he wanted.

An always relevant XKCD.

  • You could remove someone from your home whether they were exercising free speech or not, because it is irrelevant. In what way is that related to the current situation? Are you saying that Alex Jones was banned for some other reason and just happened to be exercising his right to free speech at the same time? – Gimme the 411 Aug 13 '18 at 2:57
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    @Gimmethe411 He was on Facebook's servers. They said "we don't want you here any more, get out." They get to do that, just as you get to do that in your home or on any other property you own. – zibadawa timmy Aug 13 '18 at 2:58
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    @Gimmethe411 There is no "right to free speech" here. That only prevents the government from acting against you because of what you say and do. Internet communities, corporations, that guy Kenny from work, etc. are all free to tell you you can't say and do those things on their property. – zibadawa timmy Aug 13 '18 at 3:00
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    @Gimmethe411 Then what's your problem here? Facebook etc. are not public or government spaces. They are private spaces held by corporations and/or individuals. The companies in question have tended to give a wide berth on what people say on their platforms, but they are not obligated to abide and enable arbitrary speech. Just as you can get banned from anywhere else on the internet, you can be banned from Facebook. – zibadawa timmy Aug 13 '18 at 3:07
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    @Gimmethe411 The law says there must be a right that's impinged. There is no right of his that they are interfering with. He does not have the right to say whatever he wants on their services. The first amendment does not grant such a thing. He can have his access terminated at any time for violating their Terms of Service, which they deemed he had (and even that might not be necessary, it's just safer from a lawsuit standpoint). That's the end of the story. No right was impinged, so no violation of the law happened, no matter how many legal entities were involved. – zibadawa timmy Aug 13 '18 at 3:47
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Does he have a right to free speech?

No. In some jurisdictions he may have a right to speech uninhibited by the government except in particular grounds, but nowhere does there exist a right to free speech unqualified and unconditional.

Was he exercising his right to free speech on their platforms?

No. He was exercising the privilege granted by being party to a contract (for each service) to use said service for the purposes of communication, in accordance with the terms of use set by the company in control of the service.

Did they ban him because he was exercising his right to free speech on their platform?

No. They banned him because his use of the service fell outside the terms they set and to which he agreed, in particular for encouraging violence and using and/or promoting hate speech.

Does their ban constitute "oppression"?

No. As much as Alex Jones and people of a similarly socially conservative nature would like to equivocate the damage their actions cause to a diverse range of groups and peoples with being told they are causing harm and prevented from doing so, this is not oppression.

No law has thus been broken, especially not that law cited.

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