Why Trump's Twitter Ban Is A Bad Idea
Sunlight Is The Best Disinfectant
For some reason, unknown to probably everyone, Trump decided that his go-to way of communicating with the American people over the last 4 years would be Twitter. He fully embraced the medium and definitely became the first full on social media president.
After January 6th, when Trump's most diehard cult members attacked Capitol Hill, his presence on Twitter came to an abrupt end. The social media megasite decided they had enough and banned him.
And, not unexpectedly, there were those that celebrated, stating that Trump misused and abused his platform to stoke hate, spread false information, and rile up his base. Well, honestly, those critics aren't entirely wrong.
Others, however, weren't so quick to celebrate, and for good reason. To start with there has been condemnation and concern from some world leaders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British PM Boris Johnson and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador all spoke out against the ban, with the latter saying:
“I don’t like anybody being censored or taking away from the right to post a message on Twitter or Facebook. I don’t agree with that, I don’t accept that. A court of censorship like the Inquisition to manage public opinion: this is really serious...”
Through Trump's Twitter account much of the world was able to get a glimpse of what he was thinking. For better or worse, he couldn't keep his fingers off of his keyboard. What this allowed everyone to do is to know what he was up to. It also gave people the opportunity to counter everything he said on the site. He was out in the open, laying it bare for everyone to see. It was marvelous. It kept his discourse public and any and all critics could outright see the ridiculous ideas he often put forth.
Now he is off Twitter, and relatively silent.
The thing is, when Trump got kicked off Twitter, he wasn't the only one. Seventy thousand other accounts also vanished. Most of those accounts were run by Qanon conspiracy folks, "Stop the Steal" folks, and diehard pro-Trumpers. A whole chunk of the site up and disappeared. All of those people that publicly posted their thoughts, feelings and devious plans were turfed and set out to find new virtual pastures.
Now, it may seem like a good idea to just get rid of these people en masse because they are seen as dangerous. But, what it did was push a lot of these people into the shadows. They are now gathering in other places on the internet or in encrypted chats where they are now out of sight.
Then, of course, there are those who bring up the topic of freedom of speech and expression. It is quite disturbing the power that we have given to companies like Twitter and Facebook. Many people say, "Hey, they are private companies. They can do what they want!" Well, ya, there is truth to that. But it's also rather scary that these platforms can arbitrarily decide who gets a voice and who doesn't. And, the truth is, when one gets kicked off one of these sites, that is a big hit. You lose the ability to reach a heck of a lot of people.
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Besides, where is this idea of "They are private companies and can do what they want" when businesses are taken to court for not baking cakes for LGBTQ weddings or not allowing their employees to get proper birth control? Exactly, no, businesses are not allowed to just do whatever they want.
Banning things doesn't make them go away. We know that from the issue of abortion. Does banning abortion stop abortions? No, it pushes abortions underground and it becomes far more dangerous for women. And this is the exact same issue faced with a Twitter ban. It doesn't make any of the ideas presented go away. It just pushes them underground where they are able to foment in the dark.
Now, what WAS a good idea was when someone like Trump posted false information regarding the election that he insists was rigged and that he won, a note was put on the bottom of the tweet stating it was false information. This is a decent way of approaching the situation. Let him tweet, but counter the information he is putting forward.
Obviously, the banning of people from social media poses difficult questions. Is the removal of someone like Trump for the greater good? Or an unethical act? This is the kind of scenario that has played out time and time again in history, and we humans haven't come up with a perfect way of dealing with this problem yet.
But, in the end, it's fair to say that we have all lost something as the result of this ban. We can see that so-called "Big Tech" really does have a whole lot of power that we have pretty much handed to them for the convenience of having these platforms. A lot of bad ideas were pushed into the shadows overnight with people scrambling for new ways to communicate that others can't see. And, yes, the whole concept of freedom of speech and expression was infringed on and people in power are concerned, as we all should be.