Taking Sides: Social Media Companies SHOULD Ban Individuals From Their Platforms for Hate Speech

Em Rigda, Columnist

  Freedom of speech is a fundamental right in the United States protected by the Constitution, however, this does not mean that all consequences are relinquished from everything one says. A common ideology held in society is that one’s rights are protected until they start to infringe upon others’ rights and livelihoods. This means that when one uses their rights to harm others, they are no longer protected by the government. This should be held true in the case of free speech. The freedom of speech is a freedom that goes larger unquestioned and unchallenged. The world is starting to realize that media platforms are becoming a beacon of free speech advocates that are pushing the limits of this right. 

  Though one’s right to share one’s opinion is protected, the right to freedom of speech is in fact limited when it has ill intent. For example, the Supreme Court case, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942) states that “fighting words,” or offensive words and words that have a violent connotation, are not protected. Since this case has yet to be overturned, it is the law of the land and this gives media platforms, businesses and even the government the right to punish people who have used words that are deemed offensive and to be “fighting words.” This case is correct in nature due to the fact that the freedom of speech does not eliminate possible  consequences. In a more modern view, social media has been a quick and easy way to spread hateful messages to the entire world. One of the most recent cases being American rapper, Kanye West. West stated on the public platform Twitter that he was “going death con 3 on jewish people.” He was then removed from the platform later having been removed from other platforms such as Instagram for promoting white supremacy. According to the BBC, he then also lost brand deals with Adidas. When someone as influential as Kanye West is sharing antisemitic and racist rhetoric, it starts to spread and become normalized. Though the majority of the population was repulsed by his words, many of his devoted fans and followers started sharing and spreading these same views. Allowing this type of speech to be said and spread without consequence teaches people that these types of views are okay.

  So finally, freedom of speech is a fundamental right in the U.S. and one’s opinions are valued. However, the Bill of Rights states that nobody can abridge the freedom of speech; this does not exclude the consequences that can come with spreading hateful messages.