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Should Twitter ban politicians from using their platform to promote hate, racism, intolerance and misinformation

Should Twitter ban politicians from using their platform to promote hate, racism, intolerance and misinformation

Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey broadcast the first message on the platform on March 21, 2006. Over the years, Twitter has been dubbed a microphone or a platform to share information in a succinct manner and to engage users to add or spread that information. Essentially, twitter has become a place to see what is happening, according to their CMO Leslie Berland. However, twitter has failed to adequately monitor, verify or ban hate speech, racism, and misinformation from spreading, despite having a policy in place to do so. As such, Twitter has become complicit in cyber bullying. Twitter must take a strong stand against violators of hate speech, bullying and misinformation, no matter how famous or powerful a violator may be.

For instance, a famous person known to voice his opinions on Twitter frequently is U.S. President Donald Trump (Knibbs, 2016). He tweeted in 2012 that he loves twitter and, “its like owning your own newspaper — without the losses” (2016). Trump is a very important and powerful politician today but he must obey the rules of Twitter just like everyone else (2016). President Trump has used the platform to motivate his supporters to spread hate speech both online and offline (2017). President Trump, criticized the civil right movement heroes for speaking out against his policies (2017). Essentially, anyone or any media publication who has criticized president Trump has been attacked with comments on the platform from his personal twitter account, @realDonaldTrump (2018). Twitter has composed a set of guidelines that should be followed and informs whom they ban and why they have been banned (2016). However, President Trump still has an active account despite being in violation of Twitter’s guidelines and policies. In the U.S. the First Amendment states the right to freedom of speech by eliminating the government from making laws that overpower their expression (2016). But, arguments about how banning Trump from a private publishing platform violates the First Amendment only show that some people are unfamiliar with the Constitution (2016). President Trump is not in compliance of Twitter’s own policies because he has actively incited and is responsible for hate speech and the spread of misinformation. As such, he should be banned from the platform.  More importantly, President Trump has chosen the platform, Twitter to serve as his rigid political propaganda tool (2016). During the election, Trump had tweeted out “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally” which stirred up an accusation that voter fraud happened in New Hampshire, California and Virginia. The president broadcasted this before any media or official sources could verify this information. The president used Twitter to publish wrong and misleading information. (2016). The employees of Facebook had a debate close to the presidential elections of whether to remove a post from Trumps’ page that constituted as hate speech. Ultimately, Facebook did not take down the post because Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) thought it would be inappropriate to remove a candidate’s post so close to the elections, but if this were a tweet, similar in content; Twitter would have taken action (2016). As said by Twitter, these rules apply to everyone and their accounts (2016).  Unfortunately, Twitter has not taken action against tweets with similar messages, and has not banned President Trump from still tweeting hateful and divisive messages (2018). Not suggesting leaders of countries should not be allowed to use social media, but when leaders do use social media certain filters should be in place to prevent the spread of hate or misinformation (Pringle, 2017). There was a tweet that caused some heat from President Trump which said, “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!” many thought this was inappropriate and violated the platforms guidelines (2017). Twitter replied to this incident saying that they are an open platform and strongly believe in freedom of expression, which they claim is what makes them unique from other platforms (2017). To claim neutrality and to allow harassment and hate speech on their network, Twitter selectively chooses to decide which users are in compliance of their guidelines. Because President Trump is powerful and very influential, Twitter has a duty to monitor systemic harassment from the President’s account. I suspect, because President Trump indirectly promotes Twitters platform and stirs up engagement beneficial to Twitter via increased discussion and user engagement, the company has failed to impose their own policy against hate speech against the user @realDonaldTrump. Twitter was intended to encourage the spread of succinct messages and news in order to stir conversation. I understand the conversations can be positive or negative in nature. However, users who actively violate hate speech policies and spread divisive messages should be held responsible. As such, President Trump has actively violated Twitters guidelines but has not been banned or had his tweets filtered. Twitter is a global platform, with a global impact. Holding the platforms users and the company accountable is an expected standard of responsibility for a world leader in sharing messages.  The user @realDonalTrump should be banned or at the very least filtered while using the platform, regardless of his influence or the monetary gain he brings to Twitter.

By: Wafa Naseem

References

Knibbs, K. (2016, November 29). Twitter Can and Should Ban Donald Trump. Retrieved February 10, 2018, from https://www.theringer.com/2016/11/29/16040858/twitter-can-and-should-ban-donald-trump-8101f51f4af5

Pringle, R. (2017, September 27). 5 Reasons Social Media Platforms Aren’t Blocking Racist Accounts . Retrieved February 10, 2018, from http://www.flare.com/news/blocking-racist-accounts/

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