After the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, Google, GoDaddy, YouTube, PayPal, and other companies revoked access to their services for a number of white supremacist groups. These cases, in which private companies take away access to their products and/or refuse service to an individual or a group of people, are in many ways similar to the case of the Christian bakery owners who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in 2012. Ultimately, courts ruled that the bakery must offer its services to gay couples. In all of these scenarios, the business owners believe they have the right to refuse service on the basis of their beliefs and values.
In the case of the tech companies, their decision was based at least in part on the fact that they have clearly stated their beliefs in their term of service and/or code of conduct, and these groups are violating those terms by posting about issues such as white supremacy, therefore forfeiting their right to use the service or platform.
The groups prevented from using these platforms and services believe they are entitled to use these open-access products, regardless of what they post. Supporters of these groups–some of whom are normally associated with left-leaning causes–are cautioning about the precedent this may set for other groups. They claim that if private companies can revoke access to white supremacist groups, then there is nothing stopping them from taking away access from groups who advocate for things like LGBTQ rights or from banning political candidates whose platforms don’t match the company’s beliefs.
What do you think? Should private companies have the right to withhold their products or services from groups with whom they disagree?