The Perils of Social media: Censoring what suits
Big tech picks and chooses what the people hear – are unelected heads of Twitter and facebook the chiefs of democracy?
Despite the media coronation of Joe Biden as President-elect of the United States of America, legal proceedings in key states such as Pennsylvania leave the true outcome of the Presidential Election hanging in the balance until all cases are heard and fairly judged. After all, famously in 2000, Al Gore was President-elect for 37 days before the courts found in favour of George Bush.
Despite what the media may report, despite Joe Biden now positioning himself as President-elect, there are still far more twists and turns in the American elections to come, despite the insistence of the media to refuse to admit as much. Whatever the outcome of these legal proceedings, all any American and anybody that believes in democracy should care about is that all votes counted were legal votes, cast in time and be living citizens of the State they were counted in.
One of the features of election night and the days since, has been Twitter’s censoring of current President Donald J. Trump’s vast swathes of tweets under the claim that they are providing factually incorrect or disputed information. Throughout the night of the election and the days since, this has been a feature of Twitter in regards to the tweets of the President and members of his legal and political teams. Twitter has done this sort of thing before, yet rarely to those who appear on the left of the political spectrum. Companies such as Twitter are able to limit and dictate what we can all see on their platform, to suit their own needs and views. Surely, this shouldn’t be allowed to happen in a fair and open democratic society?
So, are false narratives a threat to democracy? In short, yes they are. However, these false narratives are not being set by so-called controversial figures both in the public and media eye, rather, the false narratives being pedalled by big tech present the problem.
…if the individual continues to spout more and more fraudulent accusations, whatever they may be, surely allowing the views [it] only serves to highlight the individual for their true nature.
Did Trump claim to have won the election prematurely? Quite simply, yes. But in the same vain, so did Joe Biden and so have big media and big tech themselves. Therefore, the question must stand. Why are the comments and thoughts of the Republican President and his officials being censored in this way, but the thoughts and opinions of others are not? Donald Trump, whatever people’s views on him, has done some great things as President and said some things that are indeed unbecoming of the position he occupies. He is however, somebody that is unapologetic in speaking his mind and saying what he genuinely thinks. Surely that is something that should be applauded, not censored. It allows a platform for his supporters and opponents to get an insight into how he is rationalising things and reach their own judgment on what they see.
In a free and democratic society, everybody has a right to state their opinion, factually accurate or not. Indeed, as a result, everybody in a free and democratic society therefore has the right to be offended. A free and democratic society doesn’t however, censor opinions and claims, however wild or factually inaccurate they may be, something social media companies such as Twitter are guilty of. This continued censorship of certain lines of political thought and certain individuals in the public eye is in itself, a grave threat to democracy.
If a person is to disagree with claims made by certain individuals online, and if the individual continues to spout more and more fraudulent accusations, whatever they may be, surely allowing the views and opinions, so long as they don’t go against the laws of the country the individual resides, only serves to highlight the individual for their true nature. This in turn allows those viewing these tweets or posts to come to their own conclusion. Surely that is the basis of a healthy democratic society?
Some may well agree with the viewpoints articulated in this article, some may well disagree. That in itself, should be accepted as a healthy and sensible trait of a free and democratic society. Social media has left us more connected than ever before. But in the same vain, it leaves the populous open to viewing ‘news’ and information in whatever way these media companies dictate. That in itself, is a great threat to free speech, free thought and the ability of individuals to draw their own informed conclusions.