Growing up I was overly dramatic. I have now matured ever so gracefully to be ~tastefully~ dramatic. College has really leveled me and made me deal with situations in a MUCH more civil and cultivated way. Situations where I used to throw tantrums, I now just throw a “whatever lol” or “It’s fine”. Nothing says being an adult like some classic passive aggression!
I was recently reminded of this transformation when I heard the news about the, now ex, twitter employee deleting Donald Trump’s twitter. Many of you have probably already heard and read about this, but for those who have not here is a (very brief) recap: On a twitter employee’s last day at the company he/she decided to go out with a bang and delete the twitter account belonging to the President of the United States. For a whole eleven minutes @realdonaldtrump did not exist. Now, although this may seem like a harmless joke or even a blessing, this action did not have the consequence that this ex-employee hoped.
This whole debacle reminded me of a traumatic incident I had when I was a kid. When I was little I used to love to watch my sisters get in trouble. There was nothing that made me happier than watching my younger sister get in trouble for hitting me and in return having to do my chores. Due to this sort of strong sisterly love I often pulled stunts in order to get her in trouble. For example, I one time ratted out my sister for sneaking candy into her bedroom. At the time I thought there were only two possible outcomes of telling my parents this:
- My little sister gets her candy taken away (and it is then given to me)
- My sister keeps her candy but has to now take out the trash.
At the time there seemed to be only positives, but this dream was quickly shut down. Much to my chagrin, my mom did not yell at my sister, but in order to ensure no one was eating in their room she hid all of the candy. My mom did not really act upon the small action of eating a Reeses in bed, but she reacted to the larger issue of how easy it was for us kids to break the rules with the current situation. The reason I brought up this prolonged childhood anecdote is because I feel that the deletion of Trump’s twitter had this same effect. People were not up in arms about the president not having a twitter for 11 minutes, but what they were really worried about was how easy it was for someone to delete it. As the president of the most powerful country in the world, you would expect the highest amount of security on every physical and social aspect in his life. The fact that a departing employee could take away one of the president’s social platform so easily is quite eye opening.
These series of events beg the questions: Do the executives at Facebook, Twitter, etc. have too much power? Is there a way to run these social platforms in a safer way? Should these social networks have the power and ability to erase someone from their site?
After reading numerous articles on the situation I was able to form my own opinions regarding the issue. First, I think that there have been some slight overreactions. I can see where the worry people have is coming from, but I see no malicious motive in the action. To be completely honest, I am surprised it took this long for someone to mess with Donald Trump’s twitter. I think that the fact it took this long is an ode to how secure the system/twitter actually is. With human involvement there is no way to be 100% anything. Meaning there is no way to eradicate every threat, prank, or misconduct.
An article from the New York Times talked about restructuring Twitter’s headquarters by limiting the amount of people that have the access and capability to delete someone’s Twitter. In this article they even suggest to only grant such power to government officials. It was at this point of the article that Professor Chang’s legal speech popped in my head. Giving the government sole power to control a social platform, I believe, goes against our first amendment rights. The moment we give the government that much power is the moment George Orwell’s 1984 rains true.
In much contrast to usual occurrence this incident did not result in an uproar for or against Donald Trump, yet it sparked fear. No matter what article you read there is always a tinge of horror surrounding social platforms. In today’s world everyone is able to reach thousands, if not millions of people, at just the touch of their fingertips. Knowing that there is a group of people out there that have the power to take that away is quite frightening. Social media is a fairly new concept that many do not completely understand. If anything I think this incident sparked curiosity and talk around what we, as a society, expect from these social platforms and who runs them.