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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor
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COLUMN: Does social media limit free speech?

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Social media bias and censorship hurts independent thinking

Social media rises prominently among online applications when it comes to sharing opinions. This forum of ideas and ideals removes the need for a public town square, allowing people to share photos, videos, and text.

However, social media differs from a public square in one key aspect. Social media is privately owned. This allows the owners of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other media companies to silence anyone they disagree with.

Because the owners of these platforms harbor their own political views, bias presents a constant possibility. If the government created measures restricting the power and influence of social media, would they benefit the citizens of the United States? I believe the current online platforms create today’s town square, and freedom to speak one’s mind uncensored make up a vital part of democracy.

[/media-credit] With news directly at our fingertips, unbiased views aid in our understanding of one another.

Everyone harbors their own opinions and bias against opposing ideas. This presents no problem initially. However, when people in charge of platforms wield the power to silence others because of their opinions, we lose the ability to have civil discussions. This also rings true when it comes to politics. 

Following the mob who broke into the Capitol building on Jan. 6, President Donald Trump was banned on multiple platforms because he “incited insurrection” via Twitter. However, a specific tweet from the president told his supporters to remain peaceful while at the Capitol.

This is an example of how social media suppresses people they disagree with. It is no surprise a Republican president such as Trump presented a target by social media companies, who tend to lean Democrat. 

While I may never read the minds of these tech giants, I create an assumption of their political affiliation based on monetary contributions. During the 2020 presidential campaigns, 98.99% of Twitter’s federal donations went to the Democratic party, amounting at $347,270. Facebook donated $2.4 million to the Democratic party, and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, donated over $10 million. 

I understand the makers of platforms must put into place some restrictions to protect users. However, there is a fine line between protection and biased censorship. When I did some digging, I realized most Americans agree with me. 

[/media-credit] 72% of Americans use social media. The image above breaks up this information in detail.

According to a Pew Research steady, 90% of republicans and 59% of democrats believe social media sites censor views they find objectionable. Overall, 73% of Americans believe this is likely the case. 

Parler, an online social platform created in 2018 by John Matze Jr. and Jared Thomson, received attention for its lack of censorship when compared to Twitter. However, the Parler app was removed from the Apple app store and Google play store. Apple CEO Tim Cook declared Parler a threat to peoples’ safety.

The banning of Trump and other conservatives from Twitter, followed by the ban of Parler, concerns me. If a company such as Twitter silences the president of the United States, what stops them from silencing students who express their own opinion?

Student and investigative journalism relies on the ability to share facts no matter who they support. A one-sided media does not benefit anyone except the large media platforms who already dominate. The more the town square falls to bias, the less likely honest journalism is to survive. 

Social media presents a great way for ideas and opinions to be shared. In contrast, it also shows potential when used as a political weapon. If these companies are allowed to remove and promote whatever they want, the ability to learn from and respect one another’s opinion is lost.  

For more articles, read Pandemic affects teenage mental health, and Yearbook staff continues to capture memories.

Brayden Iest can be reached via Twitter and email.

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  • G

    Gerrilyn IestMar 11, 2021 at 11:39 am

    Great job Brayden! And we agree!

    Reply
  • J

    Janet PoplinMar 10, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    Well written interesting article, Brayden. I agree with you that what could be a great platform to share opinions is being misused by censoring people with conservative ideas.

    Reply
  • M

    MarianaMar 9, 2021 at 6:11 pm

    Great article Brayden! Social media can be great in some ways, but in many ways, I think it may eventually lead to our downfall. I do not think social media sites should be censoring the views of those that they do not agree with.

    Reply
  • V

    Vijay StephenMar 4, 2021 at 12:27 am

    This is a great column that emphasizes an important issue. As a democrat and someone who holds mostly liberal views, the increasing ostracizing and silencing of conservative view points and voices concerns me. It is undeniable that this is taking place across numerous platforms. Although I don’t necessarily feel it is the government’s place to regulate this, I think it is important for us as the people to fight for all voices to be heard. I think certain things such as explicit plans for harmful behavior should be regulated, but using a blanket censoring system for all people sharing certain beliefs is a horrendous way of dealing with the issue. Furthermore, it is my belief that these major social platforms and companies only hold to these censoring systems and and support democrats because they feel obligated to under this society that has created “cancel culture”. I highly doubt that these actions reflect the true beliefs of those at the top of these companies and are merely done for show and to further their influence on our government. Great article Brayden.

    Reply