Following allegations of rape and assault, English presenter, and actor Russell Brand’s YouTube channel with more than a billion views was de-platformed, suspending potentially a significant source of his income. Brand isn’t new to censorship from the tech company. Earlier in September 2022, the tech company removed one of his videos for ‘spreading Covid misinformation.’
This isn’t the first-time tech giants have de-platformed ‘internet celebrities’. Former US President Donald Trump made headlines after his Twitter account got ‘permanently suspended’ for ‘the risk of further incitement of violence’ due to his comments on the US Capitol riot in 2021.
The suspension of these social media accounts received mixed reactions from the community, with plenty outraged on how tech giants violated the right to free speech. Democrats in the US Senate have criticized tech giants for failing to adequately monitor content to stop the spread of disinformation and extremism. On the other hand, Republicans have accused tech giants of having a liberal bias towards implementing censorship and bans since many of the celebrities who have been de-platformed tend to be on the far right of the ideological spectrum.
Republicans have accused tech giants of having a liberal bias towards implementing censorship and bans.
Yet in defence of these companies it can be argued, that tech giants do have the right to restrict users especially those with immense influence; any content on their platforms reflects on their business. YouTube has stated that its action to demonetise Brand was consistent with company policy, citing the demonetisation of Youtubers James Charles and David Dobrik which were also linked to sexual misconduct allegations like Brand.
Similar to how serious misconduct outside the workplace can result in dismissal, there may be fair reason for tech giants to de-platform Russell Brand and other online celebrities, even at the expense of silencing public voice.