After All These Bans On Twitter, Why Are People Debating Freedom Of Speech?
Since the day Twitter permanently banned Donald Trump from its platform, there has been a lot of talk about ‘cancel culture’ and freedom of speech. These past days, Twitter has removed more than 70,000 Q-Annon/conspiracy theorists accounts, the latest in date was MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, and this purge has only fueled the debate.
Needless to say, most people are very confused and seem to have very little knowledge of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: If it protects the freedom of speech and prevents the government from making laws that it, this obviously doesn’t apply to Twitter, a private company. CEO Jack Dorsey can do whatever he wants, the same way that anyone can kick someone from his or her own house because of bad behavior. But explaining this to some people is a lost cause. They keep bringing up the power of social media and big tech companies, then the ultimate threat, ‘be careful or it will be you next time!’ Me, banned from Twitter? Let’s calm down, the standards to be banned are pretty high, they are in the order of inciting insurrection, trying a coup d’état, being a domestic terrorist, or a full-blown racist – KKK’s David Duke was finally banned last year, but Nazi Richard fucking Spencer is still on Twitter, and this says a lot about the freedom of speech in the US. If you pay attention, there’s no shortage of Nazis and other extremists on Twitter. So no, a person like me is not threatened by your so-called attack on freedom of speech, and ‘they’ are not after me next! The only ‘controversial’ thing I am doing is researching the death of singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, but it’s barely controversial when you know that the LAPD do agree with me.
I was curious to see who, in the music world, has been banned from Twitter. Interestingly, it’s a relatively small crowd, and unsurprisingly, it only consists of rappers and Courtney Love!
British rapper Wiley was permanently banned from Twitter last July after posting (on Twitter and Instagram) a succession of insults and conspiracy theories targeting Jewish people, even making a parallel between the KKK and Jewish people. As a result, Wiley lost his management, and the posts (now removed) have become the subject of a British police investigation. In this case, Twitter was not criticized for being a censor, but for not acting fast enough. Just like Trump, Wiley has been permanently banned from the social platform.
Rapper Azealia Banks has been banned from Twitter more times than you can count, she notoriously gets into fights with other rappers and musicians, and there’s probably not one single celebrity who didn’t get the Banks treatment. She was suspended from Twitter in 2016 after sending very aggressive and racist tweets directed to former One Direction singer, Zayn Malik. Her account was again deactivated in 2018 after insulting X Change of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and in 2019 after targeting Anti-HIV medication PrEP. Last year, she was once again suspended for a transphobic rant. She is supposedly banned permanently, but she seems to be back as Azealia 2020, although this new account is not officially confirmed to be the rapper.
Last July, rapper Talib Kweli was suspended for ‘repeated violations of Twitter rules:’ he was accused of harassment as he was incessantly tweeting at a 24-year-old student and activist named Maya Moody, after a discussion about colorism in hip-hop. Did this deserve a permanent ban in comparison to crazy Azealia? I am not sure.
Christian rapper Zuby was also (temporary this time) suspended from Twitter last year for tweeting ‘Ok dude’ to a trans person account. That was harsh! If ‘Ok dude’ is considered hate speech, plenty of people should be banned.
Kanye West was temporary suspended from Twitter after sharing the phone number of a Forbes editor last year. This happened after Kanye was interviewed for the magazine and laid out his unconventional third-party presidential platform… But Kanye was back after a few hours, and this looks like a little slap on the hand for a big deal: a violation of personal information. As soon as he was back on Twitter, he said he was going to upload his Universal Records contracts. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for Kanye, Twitter doesn’t accept pdf documents
Twitter has certainly been tough on rappers, although I understand certain of these situations. But I can’t believe that not any other musician has been in trouble… except for Courtney Love, who never fails her reputation. In 2009 she was sued by fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir because of rants she made against the designer on Twitter. She launched a series of insults accusing Simorangkir to be ‘a drug-pushing prostitute’ among other classy things.
If you spend a little time on Twitter, you know it’s a wild world, people insult each other on a regular basis and some people have simply no manners. It’s not rare to stumble on something rude, offensive, racist, or even complete lies. It’s a huge platform and it’s probably impossible to monitor, but the mobs are out there, and they are nasty. Stan culture triumphs on Twitter, and it’s not pretty, just watch the Swifties, the little monsters, the BeyHive, or the fans of Michael Jackson… and I am not even mentioning politics. So getting on your high horse and claiming that the first amendment is in peril because Trump, Lindell, and Q-Anon nuts have been banned from the social media platform is ridiculous.