On March 20, 2022, the Twitter account of the Floridian satirical news outlet, the Babylon Bee was suspended over a tweet that jokingly named Rachel Levine “Man of the Year.” The Babylon Bee was notified that their account’s suspension would be lifted if they went back and deleted the tweet in question.
I believe Twitter did not just delete the tweet because they wanted the Babylon Bee to go back and delete the tweet themselves and symbolically conform to the political agenda of Twitter. The Babylon Bee did not conform. Twitter is a social media site based in San Francisco that, in my opinion, censors content they believe is “fake news.”
I believe that all censorship is inherently wrong unless the censored post contains a direct physical threat. Furthermore, the erosion of free speech and the censorship of what people claim to be “fake news” are some of the largest threats that America faces as the leader of the free world.
Social media and the internet can be addictive and the governments of some eastern Asian countries have taken it upon themselves to protect their citizens from technology. China has placed national limits on gaming time for children, as well as setting up camps for people who are addicted to technology. According to reports, an 18 year old died in one of these camps. Following China's lead, South Korea also placed a gaming curfew on citizens under the age of 16 blocking all video games nationwide at midnight. In my opinion, this is government overreach and the consumer should be able to look at or play what they want, when they want it (granted they can pay for it if payment is required to obtain a subscription). I would argue that governments placing restrictions on the internet access of their citizens is a form of censorship because it, as I believe Twitter is also doing, is limiting the user’s freedom of choice with regards to technology.
The government forcing its citizens to adhere to strict guidelines with regards to technology is wrong. I believe as long as people are not using technology to physically harm others or to infringe on the rights of others, they should be able to do what they want on social media. Gaming does not hurt anybody, and if it has negative mental health impacts, it only impacts the user, the one who chose to use it.
The idea of Twitter censoring what they claim is “fake news” also makes me think about who is deciding this. Who knows if what is being censored is objectively true or objectively false? I would argue that Twitter does not know and just goes by their own political agenda (shown by what some sources have said is a the lack of censorship of select Twitter accounts), but for the sake of my argument, let’s say that the Babylon Bee article was not a joke, and was objectively false. I still believe that Twitter should not censor it because it should be up to the user to choose what he or she wants to look at. The freedom of the consumer is very important to me.
I believe that Twitter and our government do not, and cannot, decide what is objectively true or false. We as the consumers should be able to look at whatever articles we want and find our own individual truths based on that. China and South Korea are warning signs to the United States about authoritarianism concerning the internet. We cannot let censorship happen in the United States. We need to stand together as free Americans against censorship.
As of May 5, 2022, the account of the Babylon Bee is still suspended on Twitter. Entrepreneur Elon Musk has recently acquired Twitter. Musk claims to be in favor of Twitter doing away with censorship. Whether or not he will actually be able to do this is yet to be determined.