Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter realized yesterday that if they didn’t take action and restrict Trump on their platforms, they could suffer financially or find themselves in legal trouble. If they ran their companies with morality and decency, the level of harm to American society could have been greatly reduced. Both platforms have stood before the media and Congress, claiming to be protectors of the First Amendment’s right to free speech. However, there are categories of speech that are given lesser protection or no protection under the First Amendment including “obscenity, child pornography, fraud, speech that incites imminent, lawless action, and speech integral to illegal activity.”
Name-calling and threats towards individuals and groups have been consistently posted by Donald Trump over the years but sadly it took his tweets supporting a violent insurgency against our government. In allowing the dissemination of lies and hate-based conspiracy theories on their platforms, Zuckerberg and Dorsey are complicit in the degradation of truth and the radicalization of America.
Despite the insurgence by Trump’s mob of white supremacists and thugs yesterday, Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Josh Hawley returned to the chambers and continued espousing the lie of a stolen election, the issue which triggered the violence. The Republican members of the House and Senate know the 2020 election was not fraudulent and stolen and that Joe Biden won a legitimate election. However, in their pursuit of power and to gain the support of Trump’s base, these lawmakers are perpetuating the anti-democratic lie about a stolen election and inciting violence against democracy. Demands should be made for those who accuse the swing state elections of being fraudulent to produce evidence of their claims. Without proof, these false claims should carry legal consequences.
Far-right media Fox opinion journalist and Trump supplicants Sean Hannity and Mark Levin are claiming the mob of insurgents was comprised of members of Antifa, a far-left group associated with violence despite footage showing white supremacist groups breaking into the Capitol wearing t-shirts with racist messaging. Fox News has become a propaganda machine in the image of the Russian media model. Liberal media journalists also present news with bias, however, they also include more verifiable facts in their reporting than from the far-right opinion journalists. The normalization of lies and the presentation of hate-filled opinion as fact has created divisions that make civility and bipartisanship impossible.
MarketWatch reported on January 6th that “social media companies are facing increasing pressure from lawmakers and citizens for acting as digital megaphones for Trump’s tweets and videos, which have stoked violence and mayhem.” They report that reform is underway of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, an internet law that protects social media sites from being held liable for the content of their users.
Trump will undoubtedly turn to social media to spread his rhetoric and propaganda once again. Pressure must be kept on Zuckerberg and Dorsey to monitor his content to protect future violence from his supporters. The Congress from both houses is outraged and serious talks about impeachment, resignation, or invoking the 25th Amendment are occurring. Social media outlets are discussing longer-term restrictions on Trump’s access to their platforms due to the probable connection between the hyperbolic nature of his messages and the emboldening of fringe, white supremacist hate group violence across America.