After years of being involved in administering different online communities, as well as developing the software for them, one thing never stops shocking me. When you get a user that crosses the line and you ban them, or take any action so they can no longer contribute to your online community, they start yelling that you are violating their constitutional right to freedom of speech.
The AP takes a good look at this today:
Say it on the Internet, and you'll find that free speech and other constitutional rights are anything but guaranteed.
Companies in charge of seemingly public spaces online wipe out content that's controversial but otherwise legal. Service providers write their own rules for users worldwide and set foreign policy when they cooperate with regimes like China. They serve as prosecutor, judge and jury in handling disputes behind closed doors.
When I hear people complain that a site is taking away from someones freedom of speech, I always point to shopping malls. Go into a shopping mall and start saying whatever you feel like. If the management of that mall doesn't like that, they will throw you out. It's private property and they have the right to. The same thing applies to websites. The owners of that website pay for hosting and have to adhere by the terms of a hosting company. That hosting company is also a private business, so in the end it's much like the mall scenario.
So next time you want to go on a rant in the comments section of a blog, just remember that the owner of that blog can stop you from posting, and it's not a "violation of freedom of speech". Instead they are exercising their rights as a business/site owner.