Debate as Trump fails to block Twitter followers

By Liu Lulu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/24 23:38:40

Freedom of speech has again sparked scorching debate in the US. A federal judge ruled this week that US President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment of the Constitution blocking Twitter users from his account. The Justice Department has 60 days to appeal the ruling.

Online freedom has caused considerable controversy in the US. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was recently grilled by lawmakers on the company's alleged anti-conservative bias. But in the meantime, many believe the social media tycoon has no legal obligation to treat conservative and liberal opinions equally. Despite Zuckerberg's efforts to develop Facebook into a neutral platform for all voices, the magnate has repeatedly run into legal troubles for lax regulation of racist speech, online bullying and promotion of counterfeit goods.

The legal system of the US focuses more on real-life problems. Anyone who shouts racist remarks or makes malicious personal abuse of Trump in front of the White House will at least be driven off or stopped by the police.

But in the cyber-world, people seem to savor the "paradise of freedom," making any remarks they wish. US laws turn out to be backward about regulating online speech. In Trump's case, even if it was ruled illegal for the president to block Twitter users, the ruling is not convincing and Trump is believed to have a strong chance of winning an appeal.

Freedom of speech has its boundaries. Hate speech and other inflammatory comments with an intention to split society and create unrest must be put under effective control. How to regulate online speech is a challenge for many countries. Although social media platforms have unveiled policies to address the threat of violence with some starting to bar controversial voices, the current regulations and laws have failed to strike a balance between freedom of speech and the need to prevent online remarks from exerting negative effects on society.

Countries around the world are exploring legal approaches to regulate online remarks based on their respective national conditions. The US is no exception. But interestingly, Washington has become used to pointing a finger at other countries' freedom of speech. In fact, Washington has no advantage at all over others in this regard and thus is not qualified to judge. Countries in different developmental stages will encounter different problems on the issue of online freedom. This is not a matter of political system. The US should learn to accept the political differences in other countries and focus more on its domestic problems.

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