Should governments censor extreme activists just like private corporations?

As a private citizen it is completely within your rights to choose to avoid, boycott or deny business. Should governments be expected to do the same?

Earlier this week BBC News published an article where three far-right activists were recently denied entry in the U.K. based on their views/demonstrations. The reason is namely due to the government cracking down on far-right violence and “soft targets” such as individual activists.

This is an interesting turn of events considering that the far-right group “Britain First” was also censored this week, in this case by Facebook.

facebook-chinaHowever, we need to recognize a critical distinction here. Facebook is ultimately a private business at the end of the day. They are not beholden to the people, and do not need to be politically neutral. This is probably most observable with how they let Russian ads flourish on their site during the 2016 U.S. election.

The government of the U.K. is a different story. Their rationale for this decision given in the BBC article is obviously steeped in good intentions and seems like a perfectly agreeable explanation. They want to prevent further divisions in society and populist rhetoric often paralleled with the far-right to grow.

The real question is where do we draw the line? Are these activists as big of a threat as they are considered to be? Is it appropriate for a government to do this?

These are questions worth asking. Whether or not you agree with what these activists are espousing (I certainly do not), are the public institutions that represent us allowed to take sides?

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-43393035.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/14/facebook-bans-britain-first-and-its-leaders.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/01/us/politics/russia-2016-election-facebook.html.

Image 1: http://telecoms.com/487004/the-world-looks-to-germany-for-social-media-censorship-precedent/.

Image 2: https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/22/chinabook/.

 

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