President Donald Trump has tested positive with COVID-19 and this is one of the biggest news in the world now. As you may expect, a lot of social media posts about the news and about Trump’s situation were not sympathetic at all. As there is a divisive nature of the US elections presently.
That has alerted Twitter to make rules about anyone wishing harm to any other person. This rule was revised in April to include threats of any physical harm or deadly disease against any human, and the President now is that person.
Yesterday we reiterated we have a policy on wishes of harm that applies to everyone, including elected officials. /gckzUAV8GL
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 3, 2020
According to Twitter:
“We’ve taken significant steps to address Tweets that violate our policies on abuse without people having to report it, with more than 50% being caught through automated systems.”
This seems to be positive, but simply, Twitter Search for ‘hope he dies’ also reveals a lot of tweets that must be removed under these new rules.
This outlines how difficult Twitter position is, and of course, the challenge that all social media platforms confront in ruling what is and is not right to be accepted in daily speech.
The good promise of social platforms exists in providing everyone a voice, and they can be heart, this enables them to connect and share from any place in the world and say whatever they want. And that has to ease bigger empathy understanding. If everyone has a right to speak, then we can see all opinions from all different perspectives from around the world through online conversations.
This is the ideal concept, yet as we have seen, real life is far away from this utopian view.
The other side of this is that by providing someone a voice, some people may use it negatively. So, for example, dangerous conspiracy theories may have more chance to reach more people’s minds, niche ideology can grow by spreading to divide, depress, and disconnect people. When you give more opportunity for all voices to be heard, you permit more extremist groups to expand, and that might be very dangerous in many forms.
That’s why social media platforms have rules. However, who decides what is acceptable and what is not? Also, who decides what is true news, and what is not?
The more these groups are allowed to expand, the bigger they grow, and the more questions about who is in charge and who have to be and what must be done to correct the balance. It leaves social media in a hard position. Currently, rather than it’s just about making the discussions and connections easier, they have to consider the impacts of that. It limits connection and some people would see that it hinders freedom of speech.
However, what they can do? To allow obvious hate speech is definitely not acceptable, yet what about speech that is not so as hateful? What about if the content is just somehow divisive?
Also, when you draw the line? How can rules be effective when there are a lot of different people who can share content everywhere?
Again, the situation highlights the complicated balance that social media needs to keep facilitating connections without giving a platform for negativity, which is nearly impossible to happen. While right now, the focus is on the President himself, there will be a lot of situations of this type in the future when social media has to no just make rules but to decide also where that line should be placed exactly.
Providing a voice for everyone may cause serious risks. Is it possible to even limit them without restricting expression?
Some have even asked if social media platforms have intervened, as people can select to join or not? However, by giving ways for people to deliver their messages to billions of people, the platforms of course play a great role in this and have a big responsibility to halt negative influences where they can.
However, the answer is not that easy. Maximized moderation, fact-checking, oversights for groups to help in the ruling. All these points are very important to be valued and appreciated, yet no one can make sure that misinformation, dangerous movements, and misrepresentation have been removed
Still, people do tweet things that are against the rules, and these tweets is always seen, and people respond to it, both physically and emotionally, even if the tweet is removed later.
Systems can’t stop all of the negative comments. So, what will happen then? How do we move forward in a divided world when social media keeps facilitating ways to spread such messages?
Can this be fixed one day? Would we be better without social media?
These will be the main questions for social media improving, particularly in the wake of the US election.