Have you noticed how the Internet seems much quieter now than it has in the past four years? Now that a new administration has been elected into the White House, President Joe Biden should rescind former President Donald Trump’s executive order and return autonomy to the social media companies in regards to rights to censorship and what content they allow.
After the domestic terrorism act on Jan. 6, instigated by Trump’s false and misleading accusations about the November election, many social media platforms have taken steps to limit Trump’s access and influence on them. Twitter has banned Trump from its platform, taking away his bully pulpit that has empowered him for the past four years.
But this move has been an uphill and even risky battle because of an executive order signed last year. Last May, Trump signed an executive order that would limit the “broad legal protection that federal law currently provides to social media and other online platforms” as reported by Wall Street journalist John McKinnon.
This erupted from Twitter censoring Trump’s tweets because they violated several rules of Twitter’s policies. Censorship included the introduction of a fact-check notice by all tweets about the subject of voter fraud, McKinnon further explained. The Washington Post counted as many as 30,573 false or misleading claims from Trump over the past four years.
The Supreme Court has ruled that social media platforms will have autonomy over what can be posted on their platforms within the parameters of incitement of violence, posing an immediate danger, and unrelated to a government entity.
As a non-government official and a social media consumer myself, it was unsettling to hear about the executive order because it gives the idea that influential, government officials can create rules or undo regulations previously put in place. Trump created this executive order to benefit himself and make it allowable to tweet whatever he wished. Is Trump setting a precedent of adjusting regulations social media giants have to follow for future powerful figures who decide specific regulations do not fit their agenda?
While no one can truly regulate everything posted on the vast array of social media platforms, it does allow for the platforms to have some autonomy when words turn into a red flag.
The First Amendment also needs to be taken into account. Government officials do not have the right to take away our freedom of speech. The First Amendment will always be a hot discussion for debate because a true consensus of its extent of protection may possibly never be reached. Now with the development of Big Tech, Big Data, and it becoming embedded into every aspect of our lives, this has become a fierce debate.
While this new executive order might seem like it works in favor of consumers, it shows how the government can overreach its power. Many have said that this order will be challenged in court due to just that. There needs to be a balance between the two sides of this debate and not finding it soon can risk hurting consumers and the country.
Politics already play a significant role in almost every aspect of our lives. They shouldn’t be dictating what is put on social media because it does or does not favor the current party in power. Twitter should be empowered to block Trump from tweeting as long as the company’s policy respects the First Amendment and its fair application to all consumers, including presidents.