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Why the Issue of Social Media Banning is so Complicated

Robert Dimuro

Posted on May 4, 2019 18:06

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Social media platforms face a conundrum: They can either cave in to the pressure mounted on them by civil rights groups and governments around the world to ban hateful and potentially violent content, or they can staunchly adhere to the principles of free speech and let the cards fall where they may.

It’s without question that social media companies are just another wing of the liberal news media, banning those on their platforms who they believe have engaged in hate speech or otherwise distasteful behavior. However, it seems that Facebook and Twitter have been getting even stricter with their hate speech parameters, with the former recently issuing a group ban that has propelled a major controversy over the powerful ability of social media platforms to oppress free speech with just a single mouse click.

Members of this latest Facebook ban include Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Louis Farrakhan. Twitter also received much criticism for suspending James Woods’s account without explanation. As outrage grows over the seemingly oppressive measures taken by social media platforms, it’s easy to condemn them for promoting an anti-free-speech and politically correct environment. However, few consider the plight of social media platforms as private companies that must navigate through political warfare and maintain successful business models.

As private companies, social media platforms have the right to establish their brand just as other companies do. For example, Toys “R” Us is a brand that sells wholesome toys and games that target certain age groups. As such, Toys “R” Us discriminates against products that are unsuitable for children by not selling them.

In the same way, social media companies are understandably concerned about the spread of violent hate speech on their platforms. Hypothetically, if no content were banned on Facebook or Twitter, many would likely become repulsed by their content and stop using their platforms.

On the other extreme, banning all kinds of controversial speech is an unacceptable practice that cannot be tolerated. Besides resulting in a very boring user experience, it would jeopardize the success of many businesses and individuals who depend on social media to promote themselves or their companies.

Although Facebook and Twitter are private companies, the platforms they provide are public. As such, they have a responsibility to the public to be fair, open, and inclusive of those who wish to share various types of content.

It’s clear that social media platforms face a conundrum: They can either cave in to the pressure mounted on them by civil rights groups and governments around the world to ban hateful and potentially violent content, or they can staunchly adhere to the principles of free speech and let the cards fall where they may.

In the end, President Trump may deliver the verdict in this ever-growing controversy – ironically, through social media. In his Tweet, he called out Facebook and Twitter for banning conservatives and colluding with the Liberal media and Democrat party.

Even if this is untrue, Trump is sending a message to social media platforms that free speech should be prioritized over their reputational concerns. Given his recent executive order to promote free speech on college campuses, it will be interesting to see if he issues an order to promote free speech on social media platforms as well.  

Robert Dimuro

Posted on May 4, 2019 18:06

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Source: Forbes

Social media is forever evolving. The Facebooks and the Twitters have an established position in the industry, but the ideas...

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