A Commentary


Photo illustration by Zoe Watts.

     With nearly every social media platform banning or restricting President Trump, the question of censorship has taken the global stage. 

     Trump is known for his Twitter account which has over 88 million followers. His account under the handle @realDonaldTrump was suspended on January 8th, 2021. All of his tweets from that account were gone, and he lost his strongest platform. 

     After Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account, other platforms soon followed. Instagram and Facebook are suspending his accounts until the presidential transfer is over, and even then, they said it may continue.Then Youtube suspended his account, taking down videos and disabling comments for the rest. Reddit banned multiple pro-Trump threads and pages. Snapchat disabled his account, and later terminated it. In addition, a streaming platform called Twitch disabled Trump’s channel. 

     Amazon, Apple, and Google all removed a platform called ‘Parler’ from their app stores. Parler was a Social Media platform that was increasingly popular with right-wing supporters. 

     Parler CEO, John Matze, said, “I think it’s sick. That’s not what the Constitution said. That’s not what the Constitution stands for, banning 10-plus million US voters from the internet, barring people from free speech.”

     Legally speaking, the platforms censoring/banning/restricting Trump are not violating the constitution. Because they are private businesses not affiliated with the government, they reserve the right to restrict whoever they want, however they want. This does not mean people are happy with their decisions, however.

     “A lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech,” public figure, Elon Musk, said.

     The platforms have defended their actions, arguing that they are attempting to stop further violence incited by the president. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook and Instagram, has been vocal about his approach. 

     “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete,” Zuckerberg said. 

     Whether or not President Trump is responsible for the capital riots is questionable. He did encourage his supporters to protest at the capital, but never explicitly told them to storm it, or be violent. Instead, he is quoted as telling them to make their voices peacefully heard. Either way, a faction of people took his words to the extreme and illegally stormed the capitol. 

     During the protests, Trump released multiple statements telling everyone to disperse and go home. The ones on Twitter had warnings about misinformation attached. 

     “I know how you feel. But go home and go home at peace,” Trump said. 

     A news outlet called ‘The Telegraph’ published an article about what the censorship of the president means at its core. The author, Fraser Myers, has written several political articles before concerning both the UK and the USA.  

     Myers writes, “If the tech monopolies can deny a platform to the leader of the free world, then they can deny a voice to anyone.”

     Many people have begun making connections with the situation and dystopian books, a common one being the story, 1984, written by George Orwell. The book’s message revolves around the idea of ‘Big Brother’ and censorship.

     Orwell wrote, “But it was alright, everything was alright, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

     In this case, people are connecting Big Brother with social media, and the struggle with Trump’s supporters. Other books being referenced include Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and Animal Farm.  

     Myers said, “The censorship of Trump is just the beginning.”