Public Wonders About Censorship After Big Tech Silences Donald Trump

( To celebrate the anniversary of Donald Trump getting banned from Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, Ronald Kabuubi from the Washington Post offered up an “analysis” piece arguing that Trump’s claim that he was “censored” isn’t as cut and dried as Trump thinks.

Kabuubi quotes several free speech “experts” who reaffirm his opinion that being banned from a social media platform isn’t “censorship.” While these experts may have qualms about tech companies having the power to de-platform elected officials, none of them had any problem with Donald Trump getting the boot. Some even think Twitter and Facebook didn’t act soon enough to get Trump off their platforms.

Naturally, Kabuubi uses the standard go-to argument supporting the de-platforming of Trump, namely, the First Amendment protects Americans from government infringement on speech, not infringement from private companies.

He also argues since President Trump still has a platform from which to speak, the claims that Trump was “silenced” are untrue. Kabuubi concedes that Trump’s online platform “has been sharply curtailed,” but he splits hairs saying there’s a difference between getting “quieted” and getting “silenced.”

The upshot of his piece is that “censorship” is “the province of the state.” In other words, only the state can censor. Private companies barring someone from having an account on their platform is not, therefore, censorship.

What Kabuubi doesn’t address is the issue of private companies acting at the behest of the state. For example, the White House working with Facebook to silence users who post COVID or vaccine information that runs counter to the White House’s approved talking points. That is one gray area Kabuubi feared to tread.

Ultimately, Kabuubi doesn’t answer his question as to whether or not Trump was “censored” by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. He only says “it’s complicated.”

But, he concludes, whether they did or not doesn’t matter. What does matter to Kabuubi is that for years social media “amplified and enabled” Trump. And, he argues, if they hadn’t banned him from their platforms they would have “continued to be complicit in his bid to undermine the presidential election.”