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LETTER: Reader calls censoring opinions on government officials 'unacceptable'

'Government officials should absolutely be held accountable, and social platforms are one of main places where this can happen,' says Barrie resident
2019-09-26 Trudeau RB 3
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves to supporters during a visit to downtown Barrie on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication).

Censoring opinions on government officials is unacceptable. Social platforms have a moral responsibility to allow those conversations to transpire organically. All conversations, all sides of that conversation. And, if the reader disagrees or is offended by that conversation, then it is their right to simply close the window and walk away.

For a platform to deliberately censor political views and criticism of the government is grossly unethical. Even so, Stephen Guilbeault, Justin Trudeau’s heritage minister, recently suggested that “hurtful words” directed at Canadian politicians be censored online. That is completely immoral.

Government officials should absolutely be held accountable, and social platforms are one of main places where this can happen if censorship isn't overboard.

As a purveyor of information that reaches large swathes of people, those social platforms have a social responsibility to deliver that information clearly, organically, and without political censorship.

It is one thing for Twitter to ban Trump. There was a clear threat to the public. Social media companies and platforms have a moral obligation to censor truly obscene or harmful content, for sure, but it is something else entirely when a social platform of any kind starts telling Jane Q. Public whether or not they can be upset, or upset someone else, and what words they can use to express that.

This is especially true in regards to opinions about government officials. We Canadians have every right to strongly criticize our public officials, and sometimes that means necessarily using strong (not harmful) language to convey the message.

Social platforms are taking a sledgehammer to the problem of toxic speech in many cases, and strong opinions are getting needlessly censored as a result. This creates an incomplete conversation and an echo chamber which is harmful to our culture and communities.

I read a quote about this recently which is quite apt: "This is Canada, a nation, not a giant slumber party in which we should have to worry about whether or not we have made one of the guests cry."

Aryana Moore