The simple answer? Very. As much as social media platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, can be great tools for staying in touch with friends, sharing information with others, and posting things about yourself, it’s also an incredibly powerful tool that can have positive and negative effects on people. Social media has made it possible to send and receive information at warp speeds. It’s great when, for example, someone wants to let a large group of people know that there’s free ice cream at the local ice cream shop or even to help raise money for a worthy cause, but it’s quite another when the power of social media is used to incite anger and spread fake news.
Over the past four years, President Trump has used Twitter as his primary mode of communicating to the American people. A great way to get messages out to his over seven million followers? Sure. But when you have such a powerful virtual microphone, it’s important to watch what you say. Many social media platforms have recently taken a stand against users who violate their rules of conduct. In other words, social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, have spelled out what they deem are inappropriate posts. One of these rules? Hateful conduct. After a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol Building last week, President Trump took to his Twitter account. He posted more fake news and what Twitter believed to be hateful conduct, so Twitter suspended Trump’s account indefinitely. The reason? According to Twitter, “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them, we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” Facebook and YouTube soon followed suit.
Do you think social media companies have the right to suspend accounts if they believe posts are hateful and may incite violence? Why or why not?