Over the past year, the debate over censorship has become an increasingly prominent one in the United States. How much power do private companies have over accounts? Do they have the right to censor what we post? The short answer is, yes, private companies have the right to censor what you post as they have the ownership rights to the company that you may be posting on.
However, this does not make censorship right for a multitude of reasons. A short definition of censorship is the suppression or exclusion of any piece of information. Censorship prohibits people from expressing their opinions openly, and not only that, but it also makes sure that only certain parts of information are reaching the public. The information that is reaching the public through censorship is what the companies want you to know, not the full picture. In only allowing for bits and pieces of knowledge to reach the general population, stories can be twisted into what only a select few want to have reach society’s ears. But what gives them the right to decide what the population should know about and what they shouldn’t?
People deserve to hear both sides to a story. When private companies and, in more serious cases, the government, suppress one side, this directly affects the population that may agree with that side. Additionally, it gives an unfair advantage to certain people.
As an example, Republicans and Democrats have divided the country in recent years, especially after this most recent election. If a company such as Twitter or Instagram is only advocating for one party, it shifts the population’s ideas on what that party represents. Today, social media is such a large part of so many people’s lives, and though it may not seem like it, social media platforms have the power to impact who people vote for and how they live their lives. In censoring something like a political party, a person’s ideas of what that party stands, and even perhaps for whom that person votes, are disrupted.
This is also why teachers, adults and many citizens alike, tell students and young people not to get news and reliable information from social media, because nobody really knows how much information is truly being disrupted. How can we prove that the information is reliable if it’s already been proven that some companies are censoring what is shown on social media?
Censorship can have dangerous impacts on society. It can morph people’s ideas and impact outcomes as serious as who will be the next president of the United States and as minor as what television shows are shown on TV.
Imagine yourself advocating for a specific person or organization in which you strongly believe. If a social media platform does not agree with you, your posts or even your account can be censored. Many people will look at censorship and see that it can be a positive thing, but they only agree with this when it favors their own side. Censorship is a detriment to all of us, no matter one’s own personal beliefs on what is right and wrong. In allowing censorship in our society, we risk our own personal expression. That is not a risk we should be willing to take.