Azealia Banks, a rapper and public figure, was suspended from Twitter last May after a long and nasty rant against Zayn Malik for allegedly copying her music video style.
Her tweets included homophobic and racist slurs that are directly against the terms and conditions of the platform, and Twitter ultimately deactivated her account because of this breach.
Banks is not the first person—and certainly not the last—to lose her account because of hate speech. Twitter is known as a platform full of voices that are allowed to say anything they want, to some extent, but it is not forgiving when it comes to accounts that attack other users and non-users with hate speech.
However, there is one account that has seemingly gotten away with scandalous tweets for the past year: President-elect Donald Trump’s.
During his campaign, Trump used Twitter effectively by grasping the attention of both his supporters and his detractors, and he has not stopped this since winning the election.
If we think of his account in regular terms and not of that of the president-elect’s, it would have probably been disabled long ago. So, why doesn’t Twitter dump his account?
As far as the First Amendment goes, Twitter, as a private company, has the right to decide who gets to open and keep an account and who must be banned. Users agree to this when they tick the box saying they understand and accept the terms and conditions, most without reading it.
But the extent to which the president’s account must be regulated has not been talked about at all that much, mostly because it is almost inconceivable that something a president says would need regulation because of violating the zero-tolerance of hate speech a platform might have.
Nevertheless, times have changed.
I use Twitter daily, and, although I barely interact with people directly, I see tweets coming from people aligning to all types of ideologies.
It is healthy for a me to see the different perspectives, but I also agree on controlling the reach of people’s comments on social media.
Although I am a vocal advocate for debate and respectful exchanges, I also consider protection of people’s integrity the foundation of dialogue.
Yet, as a journalist-in-training, I feel it is necessary to keep the accounts of social and political leaders available to the public and the media. Banning them would pose a threat for the actors in charge of informing the people what is happening on their country.
And, as much as I disagree with Mr. Trump, I would rather have him ranting on Twitter than not knowing his stances at all.
I will not make a case for freedom of speech in this case because hate speech should not be allowed no matter what, and his tweets and platform have encouraged hateful behavior across the world, not only this country.
But I will make an argument for Twitter keeping his account activated because, in my opinion, we cannot fight the enemy without knowing it.
Stephanie Sanchez is a
classics and political science major from Quito, Ecuador.