By Anmoldeep Kaur
“Is hate speech free speech?” This is the question many Americans have been asking throughout the month of January. Following the riots in the Capitol building, former President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter because many believed that he influenced the rioters through social media. Since this technological age has caused many varying ways of communication to arise, there has been an issue of filtration of reliable information, especially on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
Source from @nhpchariot
To get an understanding of how the New Hyde Park Memorial student body consumes its news, The Chariot posted an Instagram poll. Based on the results, it is evident that social media plays an integral role in quickly spreading news.
“I think for the new generations, simplicity is key. We get our news where it’s faster and easier, which for us would be social media. However, we also get lies and biased news with this,” said junior Alicia Koshy.
Social media has allowed for a quicker spread of information because millions of people view posts on social media each day. Unlike a printed article, posting on social media is very accessible and anyone is able to create a post online. With a lack of filtering, any posts that include misinformation can be spread like wildfire.
The dictionary definition of censorship is “the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.” Some may say that according to this definition, Trump is being censored by social media sites because the rhetoric utilized by the now-former president has been deemed dangerous and falls under the category of “a threat to security.” Even though some objected to Twitter’s decision to suspend his account, others voiced that they believed hate speech was not free speech. To that point, the First Amendment states that one has the right to use language that is considered offensive to communicate a political view or statement; however, using speech that emboldens violence and causes harm to others is not protected under one's right to freedom of speech. It was debated around the country if Trump’s language was protected under the Constitution or not because of the destructive and violent events that occurred. In terms of Twitter’s rules, private social media companies have their own guidelines and regulations to which users agree upon signing up for an account, so violating these rules can result in the user’s account being banned or suspended.
“With a lack of filtering, any posts that include misinformation can be spread like wildfire.”
According to Twitter Inc, Trump violated their Glorification of Violence policy because they believed the former president’s tweets encouraged the destruction that took place at the Capitol. Other media sites quickly followed suit, including Reddit, Twitch, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, Discord, and Shopify. These companies, among many others, took action by limiting the spread of hashtags that were commonly used to circulate misinformation, such as #StoptheSteal and #Trump2020.
An official statement from Mark Zuckerberg, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, read, “We believe the risks of allowing the president to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
“The internet and the media in general is increasingly being viewed by younger kids and there’s no restraint on what they’re allowed to see. While the media and internet are useful sources for information and for a sense of togetherness, it’s no secret that they often portray false news, violence, and inappropriate actions that kids shouldn’t be exposed to at such a young age,” said junior Nicole Lelay.
Artwork by Shadia Zayer
Twitter suspended former President Trump's account after violating their terms and conditions.