Is it ok for Reddit and Twitter to ban people for their political beliefs?

My latest chit-chat interview is with journalist and author Allum Bokhari about corporate censorship.

Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and other social media platforms have so much power, and such a wide audience, that if they decide to ban a politician or public figure from using their services they effectively cripple that person’s ability to communicate and get their message out. Should that be allowed? If a public figure is unpopular, is that a good enough reason to effectively censor him by taking away his access to an audience?

It’s a difficult issue. At one point in the conversation I ask Allum if people have a right to “be an asshole” and if people should be protected from the repercussions of antagonistic speech. Allum suggests that “political beliefs” might need to be protected in the same way that “religious beliefs” are. Check out the interview:

Let me know what you think. Should people who are assholes suffer the possible backlash of being banned from important communication platforms like Twitter, Reddit and Facebook? Or do these platforms have so much power that they have a responsibility to make sure that unpopular points of view have a voice?

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Extra Screenshots!

Unfortunately I only got one “bonus screenshot” from this video, and that’s just a very boring one. I’ll try to make more goofy faces (and get them from my guests, as well) in the future!

Greg Stevens writer, author and journalist video interview screenshot



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  1. Chandler says:

    Didn’t they have something like this in radio, though? I remember hearing about it on talk radio, that there used to be some kind of law where stations had to give equal time to liberals and conservatives, but then the Republicans repealed it because they re the ones who have more control over radio,

    • Greg Stevens says:

      They did! It was called the Fairness Doctrine:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairness_Doctrine

      ” It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented.”

      It was put in place in 1949, and like you said the Republicans repealed it in the 1980’s. As a result, a lot of conservative-owned radio networks wiped out progressive talk shows — even ones that were very highly rated from a viewership standpoint. In sort of the mirror-image of what Allum is clamoring for, it’s liberals who have been wanting the Fairness Doctrine put back in place on the raddio, because on the radio it would help them.

  2. Joey says:

    so hot and smart too

  3. DM says:

    Anything can be considered a political belief. If you start saying you can’t get rid of someone for political beliefs, you basically are saying you can’t get rid of anyone for any belief at all no matter what.

    • Greg Stevens says:

      I think that’s true — that’s what I was trying to get at by saying it’s incredible vague and tough to measure.

      And then it gets into a really tough gray area between “beliefs” and actual threats and other types of speech that shouldn’t be allowed. If I say “I think people like you should die” is that a threat or just expressing a “political belief”? I think the the FBI or some such organization has very strict definitions of what they call a “credible threat”, and under that definition, for example, even just saying “I want to slice your throat” isn’t actually a threat, because it isn’t specific and there is no demonstration that the person has the ability or will to carry it out.

  4. I think the problem is not that it’s unpleasant or even hateful I find the ones that should be booted and in a sense, censored are people that intentionally derail discussions for something that is their hot button agenda issue. If a person that contributes if acting in a way that is obviously not trying to learn or provide insight. If they are there to just to upset people, then yes they should be warned and the banned. Maybe not from all of reddit but if they insist that their free speech allows them to say what they want (someone pulled this yesterday when going o. About their religious freedoms and gay hate in the Uber drivers support room). It’s basically spamming a room with whatever message. So I don’t care if you want to talk about an herbal remedy or how you think everyone should own a gun, make sure that it’s the right place to have that discussion. Now I don’t know this particular case you speak of. I’m not for someone being cut off from speaking just because it’s not what others think is right. But if they are not respecting the community or other people then you need a time out.

    • Greg Stevens says:

      This is such an interesting and complicated issue… because on the one hand, I agree with everything you’re saying here. If someone sets up a forum that is for talking about a specific topic, and someone else comes in spamming with a totally different message or is being belligerent, then absolutely I think that person should be banned.

      But in the examples Allum is talking about, it’s people being banned not from a particular topic or forum, but from a very broad “network” of communication, like ALL of Reddit or ALL of Twitter. That seems like a slightly different ballgame … although “where you draw the line” between one and the other I really don’t know.

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