Suspending Donald Trump from social networks between censorship and responsibility

Institutional Communication Service

Following the events on Capitol Hill, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram blocked Donald Trump indefinitely. The suspensions reopened the debate on the role and limits of social networks in the United States and most countries. Many people wonder whether it is appropriate to talk about censorship or a necessary intervention dictated by responsibility. The interview with Colin Porlezza, Professor of Digital Journalism at USI, by Francesco Pellegrinelli and published in Corriere del Ticino, delves into the issue.

The suspension of the President of the United States' social media profiles, Donald Trump, occurred following the assault on the headquarters of the U.S. Congress, which took place on 6 January 2021. Thousands of his supporters stormed inside the seat of Parliament, interrupting the process of certifying the victory in the presidential election of Joe Biden. A protest encouraged by Trump himself right through social platforms, with posts inciting insurrection. Posts that prompted Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to block, first temporarily and then indefinitely, the President's profiles. The ban against Donald Trump has thus stirred an international debate.

In his analysis (see attached PDF) Professor Colin Porlezza underlines how what happened has highlighted a central aspect, that is how the big social networks have the tools to intervene, with limitations and control, for example by blocking accounts considered problematic and not in line with the codes of conduct of the platforms. According to Porlezza, it is not accurate to speak of censorship, since it is not an intervention of control by a State or a Government. Instead, it is necessary to remember the nature of social networks, which are private platforms with their own rules and policies that prohibit, for example, incitement and fomenting violence; rules that Donald Trump has repeatedly violated.

Underlying the decision to suspend the outgoing American President's account is also the concept of public safety, which has clearly shown a responsibility borne by social platforms that, like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, can amplify messages and information of any kind.

Read the article on Corriere del Ticino

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