Robert Nestora: Facebook-only commenting policy limits free speech
“It’s either Facebook or no commenting.” These are the last words from Lisa Schlichtman, editor in chief of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. I had emailed her a complaint about having to use Facebook to leave a comment on either an article or letter to editor, and we exchanged a few emails.
I use Facebook and have spent a lot of time trying to navigate their privacy controls. When I wrote a comment and tried to send it, I got the below from Facebook, which would have probably eliminated all my efforts by returning to defaults.
“You previously turned off platform apps, websites and plugins. To use this feature, you need to turn them back on, which also resets your Apps Others Use settings to their default settings. Learn More “ (this is what Facebook required me to do to post my comment.)
I felt that having to join a website that uses your data for profit is not free speech. Also when Facebook controls the comments, they use their point of view to censor and allow content. I sent Lisa the definition of free speech.
“noun: freedom of speech; plural noun: freedom of speeches; noun: free speech; plural noun: free speeches. 1. The right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint.”
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I feel strongly that this comment policy by the paper is a restraint of free speech and expression. The only way it will be possibly changed is if enough people express the way they feel about it to Lisa Schlichtman and the companies that advertise in the paper. This is not a Democrat, Republican or Independent point of view. It’s actually all of them being given their chance to express themselves.
I understand that Lisa is an employee of a corporation that probably dictates policy, which is OK, but don’t pretend to be a hometown newspaper if your commenting policy is dictated by a corporation that probably values profit above local sentiment.
As the corporation Swift Communications says on its website, “We respect the dignity and inherent rights of the individual and show respect for all individuals.” I would take that to mean freedom of speech and expression without restraint. Some restraint, such as hate speech and foul language is appropriate, but if your comments don’t include that then having to use Facebook only is a restraint.
You can email Lisa at email@example.com or call the paper at 970-879-1502. A measure of public opinion has been the polls the paper conducts. Ask Lisa to conduct a poll on whether you feel limited in your ability to comment by the Facebook-only policy.
Editor’s note: To clarify, the editor informed Mr. Nestora that Facebook was the platform the newspaper used for online comments, but she told Mr. Nestora that he was free to express his thoughts or opinions through letters to the editor, which would appear online and in print.
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