With Logan Paul’s video laughing at a corpse in one of Japan’s natural wonders and Donald Trump tweeting about nuclear weapons, calls have intensified for the platforms they use to make money and get attention to do something. And the two platforms easily could: Twitter and YouTube can boot any account they want, and have. But should they?
The exact responsibility social media platforms have to societies and their users is constantly up for debate. Facebook, for example, feels that users at least in part need to help fight fake news, but the staggering depth of that problem leaves some wondering why the platform can’t do more.
Not helping matters is that in the past, YouTube has shut down users like Pewdiepie and Twitter has thrown racists and Nazis off its platform en masse. Why are Paul and Trump, both of whom bring massive views to their preferred sites, not included?
Fundamentally, both Twitter and Youtube are private platforms. They can do whatever they want, legally. There’s no Constitutional right to any platform, whether it’s YouTube or a soapbox in the street. But for some that raises the ethical question of what happens when platforms start controlling who uses them. Do filter bubbles form? Is the cure for a network all in on a political figure to be all out with them? These aren’t easy questions, and the answers are going to need to be found carefully as our moral landscape continually evolves.