Donald Trump has now been permanently suspended from Twitter and indefinitely banned from Facebook and Instagram, among other platforms, leading to a cacophony of public comments on free speech, digitally facilitated fascism, and the roles and responsibilities of social media companies in democratic governance. Many scholars in my field appear to be particularly frustrated, as they have been studying and voicing caution about these implications for years.
Well, perhaps not to that extent, but I have written a few papers around these subjects myself, and I thought I’d highlight one in particular, in a sort of here-is-my-SoundCloud way. In 2017, my colleague Alison and I identified four directions of travel with regard to free speech in the digital era.
- Weaponisation of beliefs, opinions, and “alternative facts”
- Content sharing as a speech act
- Privatisation of censorship
- Deliberate ambiguity, voluntary invisibility, and self-censorship as a strategic repertoire