Some are questioning rights after president banned from social media; some say it was necessary

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 3:26 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2021 at 5:02 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Social media platforms took restrictive action after last week’s riots at the nation’s Capitol.

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have banned President Donald Trump from using the sites.

Twitter says it has banned 70,000 accounts promoting QAnon conspiracy theories.

Facebook is also prohibiting content that promotes what the social media giant says are “lies” about election fraud.

Now Parler, the newly favored conservative social media site, has been taken off-line indefinitely.

Twitter released a statement saying they banned the president due to how his tweets were being received and interpreted to limit the risk of further incitement of violence.

Facebook reports the risks of allowing Trump to continue to use its service are too great.

Your News Leader asked people what they thought was more dangerous: banning the president from speaking on social media or allowing him to do so freely?

The contentious decisions of Facebook and Twitter to remove Trump have people questioning their first amendment rights.

“We have these first amendment rights to speak our opinions-- left or right depending on where we stand. I don’t think we should censor one side because we think, ‘we just disagree with him and we think he’s wrong,’” said Bismarck resident Isaiah Tschida.

Yet, others say it was the best possible move.

“To be a leader saying that stuff off social media is one thing. But, just being a simple resident is another thing going off that. I think I actually stand by banning him for that stuff,” said Bismarck resident Kelsie Murrey.

Law experts say the bans aren’t a breach of anyone’s rights because the first amendment, like other provisions of the constitution, applies only to government.

“It does not apply to private actors. So, the New York Times cannot violate anyone’s first amendment rights. Nor can Facebook or Twitter. They are private entities. So, the first amendment itself simply does not apply to the actions of private organizations,” said University of Chicago Professor of Law Geoffrey Stone.

However, they say it is an act of censorship.

“It is censorship of a sort if censorship means not allowing someone to speak in a particular context because one disapproves of the message that the individual communicates,” Stone said.

Some say they feel safer with the president being banned-- at least for now.

“I think keeping him off would be good for right now. But maybe putting him back on later-- at a later date-- would be okay,” Murrey said.

Others say they’d feel safer if everyone were allowed to speak their mind on social media.

“That’s one step towards just censoring people we don’t agree with. And, we’ve seen this in history before where we censor people, and we control people that we don’t agree with and sides that we don’t agree with as a way to control the narrative,” Tschida said.

While the argument of breaching the first amendment might not hold up in court against the social media giants, many say they feel it wasn’t the right move.

The recent removal of Parler has some of the people questioning where to turn.

The medium was recently taken down by Amazon and removed from the Google Play Store.

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