In July, 2016, Germany faced a wave of terrorist attacks. These attacks had connections to various posts on Facebook. The German government stated that they believed it was Facebook’s responsibility to turn over any information on future or past attacks. Later the following year, on Oct. 31, an Uzbek immigrant drove a truck into the sidewalks of Manhattan, killing 8 people. When he was detained, the New York Police found over 90 ISIS propaganda videos to which he clearly admitted to taking inspiration from. The question is, should social media sites have to legally turn over their user’s information if it implies a future attack or if it could shed light on an investigation for a past attack. And if not, should these sites be held culpable for these attacks to some extent.
Some U.S. officials urge social media sites to work toward terrorism prevention. Joe Lieberman, a former Congress member, demanded that social media sites shouldn’t let terrorists have access to their sites at all, and believes that the internet is a primary force in the spread of terrorism. In 2012, Twitter announced a change to their censorship policy, stating that they are going to begin censoring tweets that break the law in your local area. They gave the following statement :
“… Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why.”
Many people responded negatively to this, arguing that this was a violation of free speech. Some even threatened to stop tweeting if they didn’t repeal this clause.
There are various good and bad things that can come of actions such as this one. Yes, it is possible that this would lessen terrorist attacks. Yes, it could lessen hate speech. Yes, it could make the world a better place. But at what cost. Some say that this is a slippery slope to walk on. Once the public believes its ok to silence an opinion, who’s to say the government doesn’t silence another groups beliefs, maybe even yours. Is it worth possibly giving up your own freedom? What do they say? A bird in the hand is worth two in a bush.
Google, Facebook, and Twitter are social media companies that have people express their free speech on accounts or in search results. To contrast, Google has been struggling with free speech since 2006 from companies that expecting to see their websites at the top of the results instead wound up a few spots or are on the second page. So, the companies are filing antitrust lawsuits arguing that Google was manipulating its results to favor certain companies and stifle competition. But, Google been on a winning streak with the conventional wisdom around the notion that search results count as free speech. To add, Harvard Law School’s Noah Feldman added about Twitter, “there’s no right to free speech on Twitter and the only rule that Twitter Inc. gets to decide who speaks and listens–which is right under the First Amendment”. To agree with Noah on this many people post, tweet, and snap their opinion all the time, but whatever social media site people are on those companies can influence on what you hear and listen to. An example is Facebook, they explicitly ban hate speech and they delete about 66,000 hate speech posts a month worldwide.
Caplan, L., Simonite, T., Griffith, E., Thompson, N., Matsakis, L., Matsakis, L. and Matsakis, L. Caplan, Lincoln et al. “Should Facebook And Twitter Be Regulated Under The First Amendment?.” WIRED, 2018, https://www.wired.com/story/should-facebook-and-twitter-be-regulated-under-the-first-amendment/.
Over the last 15 years, social media has become apart of our everyday lives; a place where everyone and anyone can post pictures, videos, opinions, and ideas. Social media is the place where you and I post things for others to see, and a way we communicate with people we don’t get to see everyday. We post our thoughts and opinions for the world to see, but is there such thing as going too far? Well apparently Twitter thinks so. Twitter, along with other massive social media websites has been banning and deleting people’s accounts because their opinions are seen as offensive to others. Owen S.Good claims, “You don’t have a right to do anything on Twitter. You have privileges there, granted by the people who created and operate the service. The assumption that Twitter should tolerate, enable or defer in its policies to those who claim their conduct is political or protected expression is absurd”. On the other hand, many people say that social media banning is contradicting our rights. The First Amendment states that we the people are granted freedom of expression, in other words, the right to express our ideas, thoughts, opinions, virtually anything we want!
I personally find it unbelievable that people are being blocked on social media for what they say. I understand if it is physically causing problems, and/or causing someone to get hurt, but just for someone expressing their opinions is absurd. However I don’t think they should be able to ban anyone. First off, you decide to follow that person. If they post something you don’t like, unfollow them. A solution is simply don’t read it, but if you choose to read something don’t get butthurt if it offends you. It’s their right to post their opinions and views. You also have the right to decide whether to read it or not. If it’s offensive, DON’T READ IT! Also, I believe if social media is going to ban someone for posting something offensive, they need to ban everyone who has done something similar. For example, Donald Trump needs to be banned because he has singled out multiple people on social media, and it is offensive. I personally don’t follow him and don’t care, but if they are going to treat everyone equally why does he get away with it?