North Alabama professor discusses if President Trump's First Amendment rights were taken away

A professor discusses why Twitter or Facebook can suspend the president's account.

Posted: Jan 11, 2021 9:20 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2021 10:25 PM

A number of companies are distancing themselves from President Trump following the attacks at the U.S. Capitol.

This includes social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

President Donald Trump

Critics have questioned whether suspending the president's account is a violation of the president's First Amendment right to free speech.

However, experts said that is not the case.

Calhoun Community College Professor, Dr. Waymon Burke, said it is pretty simple. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are private companies.

Those companies are not obligated to give anyone a platform on their sites.

"I guess it's sort of like being a member in a club," Burke said. "You have to abide by their rules, they make those rules and if you abide by those rules, it's more likely you'll have access."

The First Amendment only protects us from government censorship. Professor Burke said what Twitter has done is enforce its own set of guidelines.

"It's likely they want to prevent liability or embarrassment, or some other type of consequences of anyone using their platform to do something that is out of the norm and that the society does not want," Burke said.

Burke adds since social media is fairly new, there are issues that are likely to be addressed in the future. This includes whether these platforms could be regulated by the government.

"Facebook, Twitter, or whatever, are they responsible for any irresponsible things for someone who access their networks says, could they be liable?" Burke said. "That's the controversy about legislation before Congress."

President Trump's supporters argue these platforms are targeting only one party. However, Burke said the concern over bias media is not just coming from one side.

"When others who are on the other side of the political fence, they've made the same charges in the past that they can't get the proper access to media," Burke said. "I think that's a common thing, the political right or political left think there is bias in the media, and you hear that from the far left and far right."

Burke added, while the president may not be able to send out tweets, he has other ways to get his message across to the American people during his final days in office.

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