Politics should be on social media

Ryan Bartholomew, spotlight editor

When talking about social media and politics, it is hard to not mention names like Donald Trump or Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. These people, among others, use social media as a means of communicating their own politics and ideas to a larger audience. This is not limited to people with copious amounts of money, many people express their views using online platforms. Now, some social media sites seem to be shutting people down for doing exactly that, which goes against their whole purpose and abuses an unfairly complicated censorship system.

The prevalence of social media in politics is in no small part due to how elected officials and candidates have the ability to publish content and broadcast it to millions of people all over the country. This instantaneously allows campaigns to carefully manage the image of their candidates with little to no cost, in most cases.

Platforms like these are not without their flaws, of course. There exists bias, and in some cases, that bias has led to other people being forced to take down certain posts, or even have their whole account deleted or permanently banned for voicing their opinions by platform administrators who might see things differently.

Most people, when confronted with the long terms of service page while creating an account, simply scroll to the bottom, and do not bother to read it. It is in this where a site supposedly outlines its censorship guidelines, although these tend to vary. Some may find themselves victims of this censorship down the line, as something harmless to say out loud to someone else may completely violate the terms of service of Twitter or another social media service. It is important to ask what is what when it comes to censorship, as very frequently, it is different to our First Amendment rights.

Completely removing politics from social media makes even less sense for shutting down people who are expressing their views. There are sites online where like-minded people can congregate, and these are great. The inability of people to talk respectfully about politics and such should not mean the complete removal of those topics from a platform designed for the sole purpose of expressing oneself.

A popular case of free speech coming into question was with professional Hearthstone player Ng Wai Chung, more commonly known as Blitzchung, and a protest during an official esports broadcast in mid-October.

Blizzard Entertainment, the developers of Hearthstone, saw his protests,issued a one-year suspension from esports tournaments, and rescinded his $10,000 in tournament earnings. Driving up an audience like this also helps with the money side of things for a site like Twitter or Facebook, because now with any controversy, millions more people will visit the site and earn the platform millions of more dollars.

Someone with a large enough follower count is able to do almost anything without whatever platform or website they are partnered with taking action because of how profitable the person is, where smaller accounts are left completely helpless against what is, all things considered, a pretty unfair system of copyright claims and lawsuits.

I will not say that politics absolutely belong everywhere, and everyone should be talking about it constantly, even though that is what we, as a society, are leaning towards. The real issue stems from censorship and people not remaining civil when discussing these topics. The First Amendment must be extended to cover the rights of people online and protect the freedom to speak on whatever topics interest them.