• Jessica Colarossi

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    Jessica Colarossi

    Jessica Colarossi is a science writer for The Brink. She graduated with a BS in journalism from Emerson College in 2016, with focuses on environmental studies and publishing. While a student, she interned at ThinkProgress in Washington, D.C., where she wrote over 30 stories, most of them relating to climate change, coral reefs, and women’s health. Profile

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There are 15 comments on Banning Trump from Social Media Makes Sense. But Beware the Downside

  1. Scary findings. I have felt feel very omitted by Trumps use of social media as his means of communication throughout his tenure. Social media has its usefulness but when our country is in the midst of a health and economic crises and racial reckoning, actual publicly spoken words of healing and concern are called for from our leader. I think our leaders should be held to a higher standard of transparency and truthfulness: they should be more closely monitored and restricted in their use of social media.

  2. Great article. The real disease affecting ours lives is not Covid it is social media.
    As evidenced by one mans lies and manipulation a deep and serious radicalizing has manifest in our society. This is as serious as global warming. Keep up the great writing.

  3. We need better laws against racist symbols and hate speech being used in public. Apparently, we also need protection from sedition. These terrorists should go back to where their families came from if they are not interested in participating in our free democracy.
    In addition, since Trump is the leader in a cult, why don’t these people leave the U.S. and buy land in South America where they can have their leader and the dictatorship they seem to crave.

    1. Wow. Maybe we need to work on addressing the root of some of these social divides rather than proclaiming that we should banish everyone ‘back to where their families came from’, or to South America, which you seem to think would be welcoming of a dictator. Unbelievable. Also, there are plenty of cults in the US I’m sure, they aren’t just found in South America either. You’re calling for laws against hate speech but claiming that anyone who follows the opposition party is a member of a cult and are freely denigrating an entire continent. Peace, freedom and democracy starts with every single one of us, including how we talk about these issues.

  4. Jessica, you are correct; “…Beware the Downside”. Which truth or facts are correct? Who determines this? Who is allowed to speak, and who isn’t? When we “ban” or “erase” speech or history we edge ever so much closer to tyranny; the “tyranny” that we were trying to avoid. There is so much speech that doesn’t agree with our point-of-view. But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be heard. Whether it be Nazis marching on Skokie IL, MLK speaking in 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, BLM protesting for reforms in the streets, or a President tweeting out his opinions, these are ALL protected speech in our country. When we “ban” them we begin travelling down a very slippery slope. The ensuing riots and looting this summer diminished the message of those trying to voice their feelings over what they perceived as injustices. The violence and looting of our Capitol building diminished what these people and the President perceived as injustices. It is not the media’s responsibility or right to censor ideas or people with which they do not agree. When this is allowed to happen, the ” banned speech” will migrate to other platforms which will only feed the division in our society. We are indeed heading into a very unsure and perhaps dangerous time. There has always been a divide in our society, in our ideology. However the space and gap between was never too deep for compromise or discussion. Recently, Media and Social Media have taken “a power tool” to the divide and widened and deepened the space between us to a point where we can no longer hear, speak or even begin to discuss; let alone compromise on anything. One party, one thought, and the ability to shut out opposing views is dangerous for us and our society. I fear for the future for my children and grandchildren.

    1. Keep in mind, Paul, that free speech means you are free to say whatever you want (for the most part) without fear that the government will throw you in jail for it, or worse. Forcing companies to promote people’s hate speech is not the same thing. No one has suggested these people be jailed or executed for what they say. They are free to say it. And, they are free to create their own platforms to promote it. Rest assured your children and grandchildren are safe. They will be able to say whatever crazy thing comes to their head without fear of retribution from the government. If it’s about hate or spreading dangerous lies, Twitter and Facebook shouldn’t be forced to print it.

      1. Whatever the legality, I am perplexed by the idea that Freedom of Speech, alone among human rights is repeatedly deemed to deserve no protection from abridgement by fellow citizens, employers, service providers or anything else but ones own government.

        Freedom of religion, for instance is protected from abuse in the workplace and in provision of services. Were some tech billionaire to infringe upon your right to life it would still be murder.

        It’s also oddly selective. Loose Change was a thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory that inspired violence and sedition, if on a less grand scale, and it’s easily found on line, still. Communist manifestos, Mein Kampf, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, none of them hard to find, at all.

        For that matter, the Declaration of Independence, itself, was seditious and treasonous, and led to a bloody, violent, rebellion and the wholesale oppression and terrorization of loyal subjects. By the standards of hate speech and inciting violence espoused today, I suppose it should have been renounced?

    2. Great comment. I agree wholeheartedly. The cure for hateful speech or bad ideas is not censorship. It is more free speech. If Twitter and Facebook want to practice viewpoint discrimination and hide behind their status as “private companies”, then we should boycott them by deleting our accounts. Hit them where they live: their bank accounts. Boycotts worked for the civil rights movement when private businesses discriminated on race; the same will work now to fight viewpoint discrimination by Big Tech. This wrong too must be overcome!!

  5. No right is unlimited. Advocating violence or attacks on the USA is not protected speech. The Constitution is not a suicide pact. Trump is banned only because he incites violence. Anyone who does that should be banned. If Biden tweeted a pic of trump framed by a gunsight and said “time to take action” he should be banned….but as a decent human being he’d never do that. It currently appears that the trump followers are being singled out simply because they are the ones advocating violence and sedition.

  6. Just to put it into perspective-Trump is the only world leader banned from social media.
    Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Ayatollah Khamenei are enjoying full privileges. Human rights record is obviously irrelevant to the CEO of US based media and social media giants and their users.

  7. Glad to see a balanced discussion here about democratic principles. Of all the values of democracy, protecting free speech rights has to be at the very top. The first thing that goes in a transition from a free society to an authoritarian one is silencing dissenting opinions and removing competing sources of news. One doesn’t have to look far or conduct an academic study to see this. All a curious person has to do is listen to international news from Reuters, BBC or NPR, and you’d get a crash course in how to concentrate political power in the hands of one or a few thugs. The steps are fairly straightforward and are repeated over and over until a brutal dictatorship is born. From Russia to Iran to China to Egypt to Iran to Burundi to Belarus – I could go on and on – a politician first seizes the means of communications and dissemination of information on their way to assuming total control.

    In the US, while the first amendment prohibits government – rather than private entities – from interfering with free speech, when it comes to Big Tech, the issue is more complicated. When you have as much ownership over internet infrastructure in the hands of just 3 or 4 huge Trillion (with a T!) dollar corporations, the line between government and private corporation begins to blur in disturbing ways. That kind of hyper-concentration of wealth and power should unsettle and unite all people from all political sides to fight against this. It may be expedient for the moment, it may serve one political side at the moment (because for instance Big Tech is such a huge contributor to the Democratic party), but it does nothing good for American society in the long term.

    Free speech advocates are worried about Trump – a sitting president – being de-platformed. While this is alarming in itself, there is a legitimate case to be made that when speech directly incites violence or other illegal behavior it is no longer protected speech. Trump’s behavior and lack of morals, and win-by-any-means mentality drives him to not respect this line. While I don’t believe he is fully responsible for the horrible violence that took place on the Capitol building, he is certainly partially responsible. But lawyers can legitimately argue about whether he is legally responsible. I don’t think it is a slam-dunk either way. Moreover, one has to ask the same questions regarding the BLM inspired riots last summer. This violence which often turned deadly – take Jan 6 and multiply it by a hundred and you will have some idea of the extent of the destruction – was being excused, justified and in some cases encouraged on social media in the name of social justice.

    But this focus on Trump and his being banned from Twitter misses the larger more important event in censorship that happened simultaneously with the Trump ban: the destruction of Twitter’s competitor, Parler by a coordinated effort of a few global giants mentioned earlier. There seems to be no justifiable reason for this given that that incitement to violence and hate speech happens routinely on Twitter and Facebook as I write this. When it is in the name of the politically correct causes it seems to be okay. Again during the horribly destructive BLM riots last summer, how much of the incitement and hate speech was taken down? I don’t remember Twitter or Facebook doing a purge of their accounts while cities were burning…I don’t remember Apple, Google, and Amazon colluding to destroy Twitter when BLM and Antifa used it and Facebook to organize violence. This politically motivated silencing and destruction of a business sets a truly scary precedent.

    Here’s a link to an article from Newsweek (a mainstream left-leaning news source) illustrating some of my points:

    https://www.newsweek.com/slippery-slope-arrives-big-tech-censorship-threatens-our-freedoms-opinion-1560667

    1. I agree with this. I have deleted my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I won’t support businesses that will engage in this type of censorship. They may be free to do so, but I am also free to take my business somewhere else. If 20 million others do the same, they will get the message.

  8. Speaking of censorship and “free speech”, my post from yesterday to this article was banned. Not sure why, as I simply suggested that the media censorship, news suppression, and canceling of opposing views is a very slippery (and dangerous) slope, and that control of media and message has been a very effective strategy in totalitarian governments of all stripes. I guess if this follow-up is also “cancelled” then it will just confirm how pervasive media censorship really is. Waiting to see how the BU censors respond.

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