Letter: Thoughts on social media, limiting speech

Letter: Thoughts on social media, limiting speech

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Maybe It 's because I am not a twit that uses Twitter that I don't understand the way Twitter lets some tweets through and blocks or warns about others including those from President Trump. Like many I have concerns about (un)social media and its ability to spread views too easily including many that I find offensive, racism for example or wrong such as the vaccination opponents or plain stupid as shown by those that think 5G or Bill Gates are involved in the spread of COVID-19. The greatest value of a strong democracy is that it allows for a wide range of viewpoints even those that are clearly wrong.

From this logic I am confused by Twitter's blocking or blurring of President Trump's warning about the use of "Serious force" if there is an autonomous zone set up in Washington D.C. Although there is a warning that this tweet refers to "Abusive Behaviour" you can still proceed to the tweet and read it in full - it's like a wet paint warning which will actually encourage people to touch the surface. Surely if Twitter finds this inappropriate then it should remove it rather than the meek response this warning provides.

The problem with this is that people have the apparent right to make incorrect or offensive statements but there is little clarity as to what can actually be banned. Twitter is working on this but there is a long way to go and the basic problem is what is offensive to some may be the view supported by others.

It seems that President Trump, although not a great fan of Twitter is a prolific user. He is a staunch defender of the freedom of speech as he said "We're here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers it has faced in American history" (May 28, 2020) when he signed an executive order and yet he is apparently trying to stop his niece from writing a book about the family. It is easy to assume that the book will not be positive as steps are being made to ban it.

The first amendment has much to say on press freedom, "..no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.." and Presidents have sworn to "to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States". I am confused.

Few countries, or even people are perfect, but most aspire to be the best they can be. Some don't!

Dennis Fitzgerald

Melbourne, Australia

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