Thursday 20 June 2019

The Big Tech Show: Unwelcome guests on social media

Alex Jones from Infowars at a pro-Trump rally in 2016
Alex Jones from Infowars at a pro-Trump rally in 2016
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

This week, Adrian and the panel discuss the thorny question of whether social media services should be allowed — or obliged — to kick people off for airing views and opinions that are considered extreme or dangerous.

It’s an issue that Twitter is currently hamfistedly trying to deal with in the case of Alex Jones, the American conspiracy theorist whose InfoWars channel has been accused of stirring up violent sentiment through its broadcasts and editorials. (Jones has argued that the September 11th terrorist attacks in the US were “an inside job” and that the Sandy Hook massacre, which killed innocent children, never happened.)

Facebook and YouTube have kicked Jones and Infowars off. Are they right?

Is this a question of freedom of speech or sensible policing by the social networks?

Joining Adrian to debate the issue are Constantin Gurdiev, a professor of finance and a former editor of Business & Finance, and Jason O’Mahony, a political pundit and regular columnist with the Times Ireland Edition and Sunday Times.

Gurdiev argues that it’s an overstep on the part of the social networks to ban voices, even ones as repugnant as Jones, as social networks are public spaces now.

O’Mahony says that it’s proportionate to ban characters like Jones.

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