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Manser Thelua

What does de-platforming or social media canceling mean and how effective does it work in censorship?

Deplatforming, (a term for kicking someone off social media or other sites when they break the rules) also known as no-platforming, is a form of political activism or prior restraint by an individual, group, or organization.

This has recently been common with sites like Twitter, facebook and YouTube… with the goal of shutting down controversial speakers or speech, or denying them access to a venue in which to express their opinion. By say, using hate speech, or participating in harassment campaigns.

But there’s an even bigger problem: It doesn’t work because, unfortunately, offensive speakers don’t disappear when you revoke their invitation to talk. The goal of deplatforming is to shut a speaker up, but in actuality it brings the target even more attention—which is exactly what they want.

Consistently no-platforming people could have a chilling effect on free speech. The concept of ‘no platforming’ is an eminently dangerous one, yet one which is nonetheless becoming an ever-more common.

Deplatforming can also help facilitate free speech, by reducing harassment on platforms. In 2014, Fark, a popular link aggregation website, banned misogynist conduct on the site’s comment thread, in response to continuous harassment and threats to women. But there’s still a lot of ground to cover to protect our free speech rights online. Social media companies are writing the protocol for policing internet hate speech in real time, and this time they got it right. If deplatforming is so powerful, what’s a lover of free speech to do?

The idea that certain viewpoints had no right to be expressed in public debate. YouTube underwent a similar process in March, shutting down the accounts of hundreds of conservative voices in response to complaints. Facebook and Twitter have also suspended accounts that professed support for conservative or liberal ideas.

The discussion over no-platforming is often presented as a debate: How effective is deplatforming, or no-platforming, or social media canceling in censorship? Who decides what is unacceptable or offensive? Does silencing people solve everything?

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