The freedom of speech is a fundamental right that many nations enjoy, though the future of this liberty has come increasingly under question, due to the actions of large media corporations. Facebook, Google, and Amazon have all recently taken steps to silence Pro-Life messages across their respective platforms.
Weeks before a May 25 vote that could potentially legalize abortion in Ireland, Google and Facebook made the decision to ban all website ads that are related to the upcoming referendum, with the latter claiming, “We feel the spirit of this approach is also consistent with the Irish electoral law that prohibits campaigns from accepting foreign donations.” According to National Review, an immense amount of Pro-Life advertisements come from outside countries, such as the United States and Canada. The decision to censor website adds relating to the referendum was based on rejecting international monetary assistance. Several critics have accused these media giants of intentionally swaying public opinion through censorship.
While Facebook and Google’s decision primarily pertains to advertisers, YouTube, also owned by Google, has gone a step further to censoring user-based ideas. Heartbeat International is an organization that uses social media to promote the Pro-Life movement. Specifically, its YouTube channel had been encouraging women to take Abortion Reversal Pills. These substances counteract the effects of abortion pills that deprive and starve the child in the womb. The reversal pills can be used to save the child from the effects of its counterpart. This week, it was announced that the channel had been banned, with all videos removed from the website. According to Christian Headlines, YouTube stated that its platform, “doesn’t allow content that encourages or promotes violent or dangerous acts that have an inherent risk of serious physical harm or death.” Heartbeat International is currently working to contest YouTube’s decision.
Lastly, Amazon has announced to pull the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) from its list of approved charities on Amazon Smile, a service that allocates portions of certain purchases to a charity of the customer’s choice. According to LifeNews, the online juggernaut channels the Southern Poverty Law Center to assess its list of approved charitable organizations. Apparently, the ADF, a conservative organization that touts its defense of life, as well as religious liberties and free speech, has been deemed as unfit for Amazon’s partner program. As of now, customers are deprived of the choice to give to this organization.
Every corporation has the right to regulate their product, as they see fit. However, many critics claim that it is unethical for companies to silence opinions by censoring or excluding certain viewpoints, while supporters state that corporations should limit discussion about controversial issues. As an increasing amount of Pro-Life voices are quashed by media giants, the debate only further grows. The line between freedom of speech and commercial enterprise has been blurred by the massive user-base of social media. Only time will tell if these decisions will lead to a larger discourse in the national community.