We are in the midst of a societal debate about free speech versus censorship. Related terms include hate speech, misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation.
Free speech is a broad concept. Many focus on the first amendment to the United States Constitution, but I want to veer away from American-centric thinking. When I talk about free speech, what I mean is the idea that society does better when everybody is able to contribute and participate in the public dialog. Under this concept of free speech, it is irreelvant who is doing the censorship or deplatforming. Any action that serves to silence certain opinions or certain groups of people is antithetical to free speech.
I believe people who hold absolutist positions on free speech have not thought deeply about the matter. I do not believe free speech is an absolute right. Consider the following kinds of speech:
A second lesser kind of free speech absolutist emerges. This is the one who believes that platforms should allow all legal speech. This is more in line with my own thinking. Yet many issues remain to be resolved one way or another.
High-volume low-cost commercial advertising is entirely legal, and yet almost nobody wishes to be subjected to it. Even before the Internet, paper junk mail would arrive in my physical mailbox daily. With the emergence of the Internet, the cost of sending such advertising fell to nearly zero.
Email providers have learned over time how to handle such messages. Users can subscribe to spam filtering services and the best email providers allow those to be configured. Often much spam goes into a spam folder, so you can double-check for yourself, and only spam that was improperly sent gets automatically deleted. A centralized platform such as Meta or Twitter could, under an "all legal speech" policy, allow spam but also provide filtering services to which people could subscribe.
There are always going to be highly annoying people who repeatedly post the same thing or stalk and harass you. I believe Twitter has already solved this problem very well by allowing people to mute or block other people.
I personally believe that in order to preserve as much legitimate dialog as possible, hateful ideologies must be allowed to be expressed. It has also become absolutely clear that once a censorship group arises, they will twist facts in order to censor their ideological rivals. Therefore, I believe so called "hate speech" should be allowed for the good of society. That includes anti-semitism, use of the 'N' word, neo Nazi ideas, etc. While these ideas are ugly, the expression of them serves useful purposes:
Disinformation is wrong information intentionally spread in order to deceive. Malinformation is correct information worded in a way such that it deceives. Both of these are fully legal. In fact, almost every published news story contains malinformation.
Here I believe any would-be censor needs to tread carefully. How can you tell if the speaker knows the information is false? And will you censor all modern media because of their addition to the use of malinformation? I believe this goes too far.
This is one where I adamantly oppose censorship. Misinformation is information that is incorrect, but the speaker does not know that it is incorrect. People must be allowed to be wrong, so they can be corrected. There are no stupid questions, just stupid people who don't ask questions. Additionally, it is exceedingly difficult to know with much certainty anything at all. We humans rely on each other being good and trustworthy because we cannot verify everything ourselves. But in times of heavy political rivalry, we are not good and trustworthy. Especially in these times, allowances must be made for people being (in your opinion) wrong.
Finally we come to arguably bad ideas, ideas that could lead to horrific outcomes such as promotion of socialism, seeking an authoritarian one world government, transhumanism, A.I. research, gain of function research, religious ideologies that believe in killing all others, glorification of anorexia, seeking to lower the age of majority, being against a war your country is waging, discussing when to revolt against your government, use of a drug for an unproven and possibly dangerous purpose, advising others not to get vaccinated, transgenderism, critical theory, white supremacy, et cetera. These are all ideas, and ideas should be openly discussed, even (and perhaps especially) the bad ones. Open discussion brings us to better conclusions about these ideas. You may feel open discussion of bad ideas causes them to proliferate. But censorship of them (not being absolute) cannot stop this. And there have always been many people who believe bad ideas, and society has survived well enough so far..
I hold that all legally protected speech should be allowed in online platforms. Tools that help users to censor their own feeds should be widely available and easy to use including spam filtering, muting, blocking, bad word filters, A.I. filtering, subscribing to your preferred censor, etc. Centralized censorship done without user consent on online platforms should be limited to illegal speech.
What about advertisers, social justice warrior mob response, or the idea of creating a safe enjoyable space? If you hold these values higher than the value of free speech that I expressed above, then your platform is not a free speech platform and I'm not interested in your platform.