Banning politicians from social media? Not so easy
On Wednesday, May 5th, the Facebook Oversight Board, a group created by the platform to hear appeals from users for priority decisions, announced that it will confirm the social media company’s decision that it will Delete former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. The ban will be temporary and the board insisted that Facebook review its decision in six months.
The question of whether or not social media platforms could ban world leaders and how they regulate those numbers became a hot button topic after the January 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol. Like in old times-President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner on Hannity promotes Trump: “He was a disruptor” Ivanka Trump doubles the vaccination spurt after celebrating the second shot. The conservative growth club PAC competes against Stefanik to replace Cheney MORE posted a video on Facebook and Instagram telling the people who stormed the Capitol, “We love you. They are very special people, ”said the social media giants quickly. Facebook was the first major social media site to deplatform or ban the former president. Twitter, Trump’s main method of communication, followed suit. Within a week, the president had been banned or restricted by some of the most popular US social media platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, Reddit, Twitch and Spotify.
Many on the right have rejected the decisions. For them, this was unchecked liberal social media censorship. However, many on the left rejoiced. During his tenure, Trump tweeted numerous false claims, and for those who enjoyed the decision, it meant that “the top scammer” had at least been stopped online. However, the perspective we may need is both one of criticism and celebration.
At the same time, we can be relieved when social media companies ban users who harass others and spread misinformation and disinformation. We can also be appalled that if that person is a world leader, a social media company has clogged up an entire country’s figurehead. By banning a president, prime minister, or other leader, social media companies disrupt political expression. They also regulate how these leaders communicate with their citizens and voters.
In the United States, presidential communications have traditionally been privileged. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s fireside chats were often conducted unquestionably by radio stations. In 1947, Harry S. Truman became the first US President to give a televised address, and the networks have been suspending their regularly scheduled programs for key speeches ever since. With the creation of the 24/7 news cycle, Fox, CNN and MSNBC, among others, began to keep all presidential addresses, including unofficial addresses. However, this has been put to the test in recent years when some of Trump’s press conferences broke up.
Few could have predicted that social media would become a major political pulpit. Without gatekeeping from network managers and programmers, politicians speak freely with the masses. However, this has become a problematic issue in the world of the truth. In these cases, social media platforms have to weigh up how to silence a world leader so that misinformation and disinformation cannot spread.
In the decade of 2020, the battle between social media power and political expression will take place. Social Media and Internet CEOs Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergSocial Media Ban from Trump: Our “Silence of the Lambs” Moment Trump’s Facebook ban on staying in place governs Board Webb: Leftists and Underlying Fraud MORE, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai spent a lot of virtual time on Capitol Hill over the past year. Their presence and the questions they face by elected officials indicate that the battle to regulate the social media titans is on. However, companies have been pushing back this regulation at every turn.
At the state level, some also oppose these decisions. Florida is about to implement laws that would penalize social media companies that knowingly disappoint political candidates. The fines would be heavy – $ 250,000 a day.
Even if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisCDC: COVID-19 cases, deaths expected to drop sharply in mid-July. What Is Really Going On In Georgia The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented By Emergent BioSolutions – House GOP Drama Worsens; BIden sets itself MORE new Vax goal – whoever supported the bill – sign it, Florida’s law will almost certainly fail in court. The focus of the social media platforms is the prohibition of politicians and the imposition of fines. This is the fundamental basis that social media companies are ultimately private companies. You can let yourself go however you want.
A bill like Florida can be doomed to fail because it reaps what has been sown in US Supreme Court rulings over the past 20 years: cases like Citizens United v Federal Election Commission and Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc The law has massively expanded the rights of companies to express their political opinion. Are social media companies only using their constitutional right to freedom of expression to deplatform presidents and prime ministers? Or does this idea need to be reevaluated now as world leaders talk about the platforms provided by private communications companies? The latter is more likely.
Jessica Maddox is an Assistant Professor of Digital Media Technology at the University of Alabama, where she specializes in social media, culture, and society.