A lot has gone on in the news over the past week. The United States finds itself even more divided than it was just weeks before. Now, it’s not a matter of self-isolation from a pandemic that has swept the world and all things media. Now, we’re dealing with politics and deeply seated racial issues that appear to finally be coming to a head.
All the while, boardrooms across the nation are making it their prerogative to reach out to all of their customers and letting them know which side of the Black Lives Matter debate they support. The President has made it clear which side he supports and he did that on both the news and social media this week. I’d like to talk about the social media posts here.
First things first. As a Public Defender, I’ve seen an insane amount of injustices take place in my community. Looking at the mugshots that populate my local jail’s database, it’s clear that there is a racial disparity of who is being arrested and incarcerated. There’s no doubt that the pictures that populate the website are mostly black or another minority. I do believe that this is a result of deeply-seated racial issues that have been swept under the rug for decades. I have also spoken with too many defendants, of every race, that were the victims of an abuse of force by those who are supposed to “protect and serve.” It’s our job, as citizens, to bring these issues to light.
Now here’s the issue with social media. Earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg, who I’m not normally the biggest fan of, made headlines when he chose not to touch one of the President’s posts on Facebook. Where Twitter decided to hide the post and mark it with a warning, Facebook let the post stand. And while I don’t agree with the post nor what the post represents, I agree with Zuckerberg’s decision to leave the post stand.
Before you pull out the pitchforks and label me wrong here, let me explain my reasoning.
The internet should not be censored by one company who deems what is right and what is wrong. Facebook is a social media platform. That means that it is a platform that encourages discourse and networking. While many people are saying that the social media platforms have too much power over what we think and feel on any given day, choosing not to regulate a post might be the best possible thing they can do.
It should not be Facebook’s job to call out who is right and who is wrong in the argument. It is our job. As users, we need to stand up and let it be known who is right and who is wrong.
In the past few elections, people have called for abolishing the electoral college because they don’t believe that a select group of people should ultimately choose who the president is rather than the popular vote deciding who is the right choice.
In the past few years, multiple countries, including the United States, have pushed for different strategies of censoring and filtering the internet. The internet took up arms against the idea of having a group of people decide what everybody could see and do on the internet.
In the same vein, we should not be demanding that Facebook regulate the President’s post. Do we have to agree with the post? Absolutely not. But don’t just silence the actual post itself. That’s just sweeping the issue under the rug. Call the post out in the public forum. Voice your opinion in the comments. If you don’t feel like writing a comment, voice your opinion amongst the different reactions that Facebook allows you to simply declare with the push of a button.
This is a time when voices need to be heard. Whether you think they’re right or wrong. Everybody deserves to be heard right now. Don’t encourage censorship. This is a conversation that’s been long due in our country. It’s about time we don’t stop the conversation short.