The Issues of Internet Censorship

Illustration by Maria Arvizu

Have you ever reported a social media post? If so, was it because you found it offensive or because the other person had an opinion that didn’t align with yours? The reporting of posts for insensitive commentary is important and that option to flag or report is there for that reason, however, abusing this power to simply shut down an opinion is out of line. 

Private companies have the right to regulate and moderate what is being said or promoted on their platforms, however when regulating what’s said, it’s important to properly communicate the community guidelines. Big private social media companies such as Twitter and YouTube have been notoriously bad at communicating these guidelines.

 In order to keep the peace within these communities and to keep the reputation for their respective platforms Twitter and YouTube need to make these guidelines clearer. Lately, this has been frequently happening to many big name conservative commentators, not because what they are saying is inherently bad or wrong, but simply because people disagree with them. The biggest names in this censorship conundrum have been Steven Crowder, a conservative comedian with his own YouTube channel and podcast, and Ben Shapiro, a conservative political commentator and head writer for the daily wire.

 Crowder and Shapiro have been very outspoken about their struggles with the issue, and have both said that YouTube and Twitter have not been very cooperative with them at all. They both say that if YouTube and Twitter can explicitly claim the exact guidelines that have been crossing they would be more than happy to cooperate with them and make sure that this isn’t an issue in the future, however, neither YouTube nor Twitter have been able to do that. 

Unless the account is spreading fake news or is using their platform to spread hatred towards any group or person, then reporting and censoring them for simply stating their opinion is inherently wrong.

Twitter and YouTube are essentially creating echo-chambers. In an echo-chamber, ideas that fall under an agenda circulate until the majority of a given population subscribes to it. What makes this fascist is the idea that if someone doesn’t subscribe to the agenda, they are ridiculed. Fascist environments epitomize the idea of echo-chambers.  The regulation of opinion creates fascist environments, which is something people can agree is dangerous.

Carrboro is known for being an echo-chamber in it’s own right, while students may not agree with Crowder or Shapiro politically, this is still an issue and political discourse is important. Instead of pressuring each other to think a certain way, we should talk about our opinions and share them.

Carrboro senior and Student body president Isabel Simmons had her own thoughts on the matter.

“Private companies have the right to regulate what happens on their platforms; whether it’s free speech or hate speech those things shouldn’t circulate regardless of their opinion. However, you can’t shut someone down just for stating their opinion because that can create echo-chambers,” said Simmons.

There are a few alternatives to censorship though. In order to filter what you see or read on your Twitter or YouTube feeds you can simply just block any accounts that you absolutely want no part of, rather than reporting them and taking them down. Another alternative to this could simply be having a civil discussion with the person/account you disagree with. Not only is the latter a healthier, more meaningful way of disputing opposing opinions, but if you approach it the right way you might actually get your point across to the other person successfully. 

Overall, the cons in this situation significantly outweigh the pros. In order to maintain stability on these platforms and not turn them into ideological echo-chambers, the higher-ups need to properly communicate the community guidelines. If this does not happen the issue of censorship and shutting down the ideas of those who don’t align with the “mainstream” media will increase and soon enough all of the information seen on your phone will be just that. If you use the flag or report buttons to simply shut down someone who doesn’t agree with you, you are part of the problem.

Jack Warner is a senior at CHS. This is his first year on staff at the JagWire. In his free time, he enjoys playing guitar, lacrosse, and watching sports. He also is a youth sports official at the Young Man’s Christian Association.