Trump’s social media ban is dangerously late

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The Twitter logo: a white outline of a bird in a blue box. Pixabay

Social media has failed us and it’s time for change

Even before Trump’s 2016 presidential victory he was spreading messages of hate in the forms of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny – the list goes on and on – across the United States and the globe. Social media, specifically Twitter, became an outlet for Trump to spread harmful messages.

In recent news, Trump was banned from Twitter, adding it to a long list of sites he has been permanently removed from alongside Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and (peculiarly) Spotify. Twitter’s decision to ban Trump from the site was in response to the domestic terrorism he incited last week that prompted many of his supporters to storm Capitol Hill. There were also other events that have taken place over the years that have been problematic and eventually led to Trump’s overdue removal.

I would argue that Twitter’s response was long overdue and should have taken place a long time ago. Their delayed action left room for Trump and his followers to spread horrible messages and lies, thus creating an unsafe environment for those who are a part of marginalized communities.

Social media platforms have a major role to play within politics because Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are many people’s primary news source (I would also argue that this is an issue in and of itself, but that is not what I am discussing today).

Although one may argue that social media would fit into the category of “free speech” – which Americans have the right to under the First Amendment while Canadians have “Freedoms of Expression” under Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – it must also be acknowledged that freedoms of speech and freedom of expression do not permit hate speech, spreading fake facts, inciting violence and acts of domestic terrorism, etc.

Social media platforms and the internet have become a place for people to be anonymous and say things that they would not (or at least should not) say out loud to another human. Spaces like Twitter have given each person the opportunity to hide their identity while spreading ignorance and hatred. Social media has made this acceptable by continuing to allow people space to “share their opinion” or for FOX News to “spread the teal facts.”

Social media has failed us time and time again. With minimally added “fact checking” services on platforms like Facebook – which Zuckerberg admitted in conversation with AOC are not even approved by Facebook – people, regardless of how popular and/or dangerous they are, have the ability to say nearly anything without being held accountable or recognized as false. I would argue that social media is the most influential thing in modern society and for that reason alone needs to be actively involved in politics.

Social media platforms are wonderful tools within politics for sharing facts, campaigning, getting support for petitions, etc. Yet these platforms will lose their validity if they do not start holding those using it inappropriately accountable. Personally, I think there are many other people who do not deserve accounts on social media due to their hateful, horrible actions and words.

Social media has become viewed as something that each person has a right to. It is not. It is a privilege. Those in positions of power are given much more grace than average peope. This needs to stop. And in reality, those with more power should be held on a much shorter leash to ensure that they are not misleading the public.

To social media: do better.

To Donald: bye.

Reese Estwick

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