Tech Giants Can’t Be Trusted to Police Speech

Immediate action, taken under the pressure of urgent events, seldom leads to ideal policies. Donald Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior since losing the presidential election, from a flurry of lies to election theft to inciting a mob to attack Congress, has caused a massive shift among the social media giants who previously tolerated – and benefited directly from it – the increase in traffic from the president’s racist and threatening rhetoric.

Trump and his campaign are currently banned from posting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, and Twitch. On Tuesday night, YouTube became the newest social media platform to freeze Trump.

Last Thursday, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg did specified: “The shocking events of the past 24 hours clearly show that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining term in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transfer of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden.” Some of these bans are temporary, but at least one, Twitter, is permanent.

There is no reason to shed tears for the death of Trump’s Twitter account. He has used these forums to ignite the flames of violence. But Trump and his supporters were quick to cry from censorship. On Twitter Donald Trump Jr. wrote“The world laughs at America and Mao, Lenin and Stalin smile. Big Tech Can Censor the President? Freedom of speech is dead and controlled by left overlords. “This is absurd on every level. Mao and Company were hardly fans of the private sector, apart from the speech of the political leaders. Companies like Twitter are also not “left” in any meaningful way.

Right-wing claims that Trump is being censored are full of hypocrisy. Political law, after all, usually celebrates the unregulated free market. It is a transparently selfish position to insist that the market rule – unless it harms your own political cause.

But those on the left who distrust the concentration of economic power have generally more cause for concern. As the writer Anand Giridharadas likes to say, the social media crackdown on Trump is a case in which arsonists are allowed to rephrase themselves as firefighters. Trump’s entire political career has been fueled by social media: Twitter allowed him to define himself as a brazen outsider who wasn’t afraid to insult more conventional politicians like Crooked Hillary, Low-Energy Jeb and Sleepy Joe. Facebook has been a lazy greenhouse where myriad Trumpian conspiracy theories, especially the QAnon fantasies, blossomed.

The fact that this social media turns Trump on in the twilight of his presidency is arbitrary and even cowardly. It’s easy to take a heroic stance when the stakes are low. Early in his political career, social media companies were more than happy to benefit from Trump in many ways: he was a reliable click generator, his campaign was a generous buyer of advertising, and his tax cuts made Silicon Valley billionaires even richer.

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