Jennie Lathrop

An incitement to violence or free speech? Students debate validity & ethics of social media ban on Trump

In the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, violent protest in the Capitol, many social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook banned President Donald Trump on claims that his public social media posts fanned the flames of insurrection. But what happens when the power of social media platforms clash with the power of an American president?

The Wessex Wire created this package with the help of history teacher Beth Vaknin and more than 70 students enrolled in her AP Government classes. Below is a sampling of multifaceted student perspectives on the legality — and morality — of social media account restrictions that platforms placed on President Donald Trump in January 2021. Each voice is different, but the below essays are broadly sorted into three categories:

GREEN: Bans are good to GO

YELLOW: Bans should proceed with CAUTION

RED: Bans should STOP

Lack of moderation leads to violence
Social media has the right to censor people, but they do so unequally
Trump did not breach Twitter’s terms of service
Trump’s actions caused his own ban
Presidents’ social media use should be monitored
Social media sites should not wield so much power
POTUS is not above the terms of service
Since social media sites banned Trump, others should be banned as well
While it’s legal, the ban is an attack on free speech
Social media sites are their own private companies
The President can be banned, but shouldn’t be
Just because Trump is unpopular, doesn’t mean he should be banned

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