PBA legal community weighs in on Twitter banning 'unsafe' speech

February 10, 2017

West Palm Beach, Fla. - Twitter has received criticism from all directions because of its new restriction on speech the company deems unsafe.


While the social media giant says it stands for "freedom of expression and people being able to see all sides of any topic," the company insists it will not tolerate abusive or harassing speech that some argue stifles and silences other voices. 


Such blame usually targets groups associated with the Alt-Right movement.



        This is a post by Twitter announcing its new policies towards controversial speech


Two prominent individuals associated with these groups - Milos Yanniapoulos and Richard Spencer - have been particularly targeted by the social media platform.


Yanniapoulos is a British journalist and senior editor for Breitbart News, a website that admits to giving extreme right-wing groups a platform. Richard Spencer is a leader of the National Policy Institute, a White Nationalist organization. 


Despite the widespread condemnation for those who espouse these ideologies, there is concern that any moral resistance by Twitter - and Facebook as well because of similar company policies related to controversial postings - will prohibit the free expression of ideas protected by the U.S. Constitution.


                    Twitter will not only crackdown on hate speech, but it will target speakers as well. 


As Oscar Wilde once said “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”


Twitter also states the company will identify individuals previously banned for abusive behavior and will prevent them from creating new accounts. One of those individuals was Yanniapoulos.


Opinions are split on the justification of the two social media sites actions the past several weeks, with vocal condemnation and measured support. On Twitter itself, @TerryHunter tweeted “#FreedomofSpeech is a #HumanRight. #HateSpeech is #NewSpeak for #Censorship. #FreeSpeech means we’re #Free to verbally express any idea.”


Conversely, The Guardian posted an article with an author who wished to remain anonymous, citing concerns related to racist views found in Yanniapoulos’ writings. “If it can get somebody like me to swallow it, a lifelong liberal,” the anonymous author said, “I can’t imagine the damage it is doing overall.”


At a meeting organized by the Pre-Law Student Association at Palm Beach Atlantic University, attendees had their own views on whether or not Facebook and Twitter are doing the right thing. Their consensus was not unanimous.



Dr. James Todd, a constitutionalist and Assistant Professor of Politics at PBA stated, “It’s not unconstitutional to let media outlets self-censor.” While he doesn’t support censorship in general, Todd points out it’s a clear violation of the First Amendment U.S. government is involved. And he also believes that speech that threatens violence should not be allowed.







Stephanie Oduardo, a pre-law major, believes whole-heartedly that censorship in any form is bad, leading to a slippery slope. In terms of censoring hate speech as a way to protect innocent people, she questioned, “Who should decide what is bad or good in speech?”



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