President Donald Trump has been banned and restricted from several social media sites due to his dangerous rhetoric on the platforms. His rhetoric caused the failed coup on Capitol Hill on January 6th, 2021. Several people are upset or concerned about the ban. The reach of big tech companies is problematic. Still, it is time that we work towards developing laws that regulate and solidify what is acceptable for social media. However, we must learn not to conflate the two issues with each other so we do not take away from the severity of the issue at hand.
On January 6th, a group of terrorists/white supremacists attempted to overthrow the government under the direction of the 45th president. Congress met in a joint session to certify the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden. However, several Republicans planned to assist the President in making false allegations about the election’s integrity. While Congress met to certify the votes, President Donald Trump spoke to his base at a rally and encouraged them to go to the Capitol and “Stop the Steal.” The begrudged Trump supporters did just that. They began walking to the Capitol to stop the count and declare Donald Trump the presidential election winner.
Before the rally, Trump used his social media accounts to spread lies and get his supporters riled up. He continuously used his platforms to spread false information and violence.
Although the attack was joked about on several social media platforms, a few people lost their lives. After the events on January 6th, social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter decided to ban the 45th President of the United States. However, some are upset and concerned about the ban in regards to the first amendment.
Singer Keri Hilson used her Instagram to voice her opinion about the social media ban. She tells people to imagine this happening to someone that is not Trump. Hilson urges people to understand that democracy must have freedom of speech and that when censorship starts, we are moving toward a totalitarian government. She indeed received backlash for these comments but stood by what she said. The fear that Keri Hilson and most people have about this ban is understandable. Still, people should understand that we all witnessed the United States President encourage his supporters to storm Capitol Hill. He says to his supporters that it’s the only way to save America. He gave his supporters the courage and drive to begin, what they believed to be, a civil war. There is a significant difference between speaking about actual corruption and encouraging white supremacists to overthrow the government.
The fear that Hilson has is not unwarranted. There is a long conversation about the power that social media networks have. However, what happened to Trump does not align with that conversation. The first amendment protects from government suppression in what we say. Meaning Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms can ban the President if they feel that his words create an unsafe space online and inciting violence. Being restricted to what you can say on Twitter if you are speaking out about controversial issues is a problem, but using your platform in an attempt to overthrow the government and spread lies is another issue.
These social media platforms are not apart of the government; therefore, they can choose what they allow on their social site.
Most of the people that Keri Hilson spoke about do not use their platform to spread violence. They use their platform to spread awareness, and their words are blocked, so the Trump ban is necessary because he incited a potential overthrow of the government.
I advocate for regulating the way that tech giants operate. I acknowledge that they have a wider reach than most of us anticipated them to have. I recognize that they chose who to silence and who to not silence. However, when the United States President, the leader of the free world, incites an insurrection, we need to regulate that behavior. Unchecked violence only gives way to more violence.