What is censorship? Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or “inconvenient.” Censorship can be conducted by governments, private institutions, and other controlling bodies. Our first amendment in the Constitution protects the freedom of speech, religion, and the press, but has been a topic of controversy as a subject of wide interpretation. Famous instances of censorship range early as Shakespeare’s works to today.
A modern example of censorship in America was on Jan. 8. Twitter permanently banned the account of former US President Donald Trump, citing, “the risk of further incitement of violence.” Although social media companies are private companies who can censor whoever and whatever they want, should they? Social media platforms are such a large form of media and social connection, censoring is a huge deal. Regardless of your thoughts and opinions on Trump, it’s concerning that they would censor him, and if they censored him, they should censor everybody else because you just can’t hear one political party’s thoughts and not the other one. That is the light version of how controlling governments and communist dictators only hear what they want to and censor everything else. Problems don’t go away when you censor them, they just fester until they explode and appear in another form such as violence, the very thing that they are trying to avoid.
Center Survey finds that roughly three-fourths of American adults say that it is somewhat or very likely that social media websites censor political views intentionally that they find objectionable. A great example of excessive censoring is in George Orwell’s famous book, 1984, in which a man loses his identity while working for a repressive government which changes the facts of everything to put the party in a favorable light. “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end, we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it”(1984). Thoughtcrime is the personal political beliefs and ideas. That may be a little dramatic compared to social media censoring, but those may just be the first steps to the decrease of free speech, one of the most important and greatest freedoms in America.
Picture Credit: Jack Fisher