Censorship in Social Media

Thaying Lor, Reporter

   As social media grows more and more individuals are joining together to spread different thoughts throughout the web. To prevent hate speech from appearing and spreading, platforms can prohibit certain things that count as harmful. 

   Social media is a place where people are able to express their opinions, and with that they may get some backlash or more support through different kinds of apps. 

   An app named Parler, launched during 2018, “billing itself as an unbiased, free-speech alternative to larger social platforms such as those operated by Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

   Parlor is the same but very different from other social media like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok. All of these platforms claim that they don’t encourage violence or hate speech. The way Parlor is different from the rest, is that anything posted will be left up even if it’s harassment or hate speech.

   According to an article from CBSN Originals titled, “Censorship On Media?” It’s not what you think. The co-chair of an organization that works on suppressing hate online called Change the Terms, Henry Fernandez stated, “The companies have the ability to decide what speech they will allow. They are not the government.” 

   Social media platforms have their guidelines for a reason, starting with Twitter’s guidelines. According to Twitter’s rules and policies, they won’t tolerate violence, terrorism, child exploitation, harassment, hateful conduct, self harm, adult content, illegal or certain goods or services. 

   Next is Facebook’s guidelines. There is a tab in the community standards that is dedicated to hate speech, graphic content, nudity, being cruel and insensitive. The media is not part of the government and doing so, they decide what stays up and what’s taken down. 

   Censorship does not affect the First Amendment. Information from Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute, it states in the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

   Another article named First Amendment and Censorship from the American Library Association, states, “The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized several categories of speech that are not protected by the First Amendment.  Among these are obscenity, child pornography, and libel and slander. Deciding what is and is not protected speech is almost always reserved for a court of law.”  

 A key takeaway is libel and slander. Libel is an untrue or false statement that is written out. Slander is an untrue or false statement that is spoken orally. 

   This means the First Amendment does not protect whatever is said on the internet. That is where the social media platforms guidelines come in the play.