For years now, social media companies have been growing at an enormous clip. They traffic information throughout the world at breakneck speed which increases both our education and our agitation.
Until very recently, their most major concerns were their unwitting trafficking in banned images or hate speech. Now, as politics is once again an everyday part of the American experience, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms have become sounding boards for the people and the politicians – which has accelerated our division.
And, unfortunately, the answer to stopping this division is not through censorship. Our First Amendment guarantees our ability to speak our minds freely, and to practice the idea that sunlight is the best disinfectant.
The issue lies in the fact that these very public platforms are owned by private companies who have rights as well – such as the right to refuse service to anyone they wish at any time. They are only First Amendment-compliant when they want to be.
Twitter has been facing criticism as of late over their efforts to sanitize the speech of the President of the United States, and this week they stoked the controversy again.
Twitter on Thursday removed a video tribute to George Floyd posted by President Trump’s reelection campaign, claiming it had run afoul of the website’s policy on copyrighted material.
The Team Trump account tweeted out a nearly four-minute long video that is narrated by a speech the president gave a few days after Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody.
In the video, the president can be heard lamenting the “grave tragedy” of Floyd’s death over images of Floyd and peaceful protesters mourning his death.
President Trump’s team was quick to respond.
“This incident is yet another reminder that Twitter is making up the rules as they go along,” said Andrew Clark, a spokesman for the Trump campaign. “From the dubious removal of the hilarious Nickelback video to capricious fact checks and manipulated media labels to questionable claims of copyright, Twitter has repeatedly failed to explain why their rules seem to only apply to the Trump campaign but not to others. Censoring out the president’s important message of unity around the George Floyd protests is an unfortunate escalation of this double standard.”
And so the war of the words continues.
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