Social media censorship, is Donald Trump to blame?

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Photo Credit: Marco Verch/Flickr

Donald Trump Twitter account suspended permanently.

Asia Ryan, Opinions Editor

   With a rise of banned accounts and dozens of posts of celebrities, politicians and regular 9-5’ers alike, social media has shown us they will no longer tolerate hate speech, bullying, rude remarks etc. and they’re right to do so. Facebook, Instagram and other popular social media sites are challenging the belief that everyone has the right to the freedom of speech on these private platforms, by quickly removing any posts that go against their community guidelines. This proves beneficial in a time of “keyboard warriors” and a nation under great divide on many subjects.  

   How can we ever forget the events that took place on January 6, 2021. Former President Donald Trump has been accused of inciting the insurrection that took place in the U.S Capitol after the election results were said to be finalized. He held a rally at The Ellipse, a park on the south side of the White house, and made statements like “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” and “We won this election, and we won it by a landslide.” Now with all of his Republican followers hyped up on patriotism and false information, hundreds of Americans stormed the Capitol, scaling the walls, committing felonies and recording themselves in the process. According to the New York Times, five people were killed in all of this and the investigation into it all is still ongoing.

   After the riot, Former President Trump expressed his thoughts on what occurred at the Capitol on his social media accounts but seemed to leave out the part where he condemned it. This appears to be the catalyst that led to large scale bans and suspensions on multiple social media platforms of anyone who carried his same rhetoric. In response to his remarks, he has been rightfully banned from Twitter, Facebook and a plethora of other very popular platforms have followed suit in different ways. Shopify removed his campaign merchandise, TikTok removed all of his speeches from their platform, Reddit banned the group r/DonaldTrump, and the list goes on. While inciting a riot on a United States Capitol building as a former President is in fact a justified reason to ban their words on social media, no matter where you fall on the totem pole, you are liable to be banned for what we all consider to be freedom of speech.

   The key here is to understand that everyone has the right to freedom of speech, but that does not mean they are free from consequence. These social media sites are now flagging nudity, sexist comments that people think are jokes for whatever reason and anything that even seems like violence. It is easy to recognize why celebrities and people with a large following should be particularly careful about what they post and say. There are people waiting to hang on to every word they say and follow every piece of advice they give. But these bans are important for us “regular people” too. Joe Smith can’t get into an argument with someone on Facebook and post that person’s address and tell him he’s going to beat him up, without consequence. Jane Doe can’t get online and say that she’s “thinking about joining Isis,” without consequence. Johnny from down the street with 100 followers cannot comment racist remarks under a Black Lives Matter post, without consequence. You will be banned, as you should. Screening for abusive and spam-like content has benefited these platforms as well. There are millions of bot spam accounts that have been banned and deleted that were suspected of being involved with malicious activity.

   What is important to remember is that major platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are all private owned companies. And for those who don’t know, Facebook owns Instagram, so if you get banned on one, chances are you shouldn’t run to the other and continue the same behavior. When you sign up, whether you read it or not, you agree to the terms and conditions of that site. No matter how crazily addictive it is, no one forces you to use social media. If you don’t like the policies of these platforms, beat them to the punch and cancel your account.

 

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