Should social media cut politicians’ accounts and if yes, when?

By Peter Bajomi-Lazar, Budapest Business School. When Facebook and some other social media outlets ‘de-platformed’ Donald Trump after his infamous speech which may have contributed to the attack launched on the Capitol, conservative and liberal opinion leaders protested alike—but for very different reasons. Conservatives voiced concerns about political censorship and the hegemony of ‘politically correct’ views, while liberals argued that a dangerous precedence had been created, as the line between hate speech and incitement on the one hand and free speech on the other is often diffuse and blurred, and hence nothing in the future will stop social media banning other forms of disturbing content. Well, I think both of these arguments are mistaken. It was right to de-platform President Trump. The conservative argument on censorship is gravely mistaken, because freedom of speech was not invented to defend the government; it was created as a defense against government. Historically, the free press was established to counter the powers of the government. As Edmund Burke put it in 1790, “There are three estates in Parliament, but in the Reporters’…

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Populism and Polarisation

by Péter Bajomi-Lázár, Budapest Business School “The fact that I have such power in terms of numbers with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., I think it helped me win all of these races where they’re spending much more money than I spent” – said Donald Trump after his electoral victory. Was he right? Has the rise of the internet and of social media really contributed to the renaissance of populism and to political polarisation?          It is widely held that media have little impact upon political views and voting behaviour, as such preferences are primarily shaped by personal experience and interpersonal communication. Further, the current consensus among academic researchers is that the ongoing polarisation of societies and the resulting renaissance of anti-elitist populism across the globe is a mirror of growing economic inequalities, rather than the direct impact of new, digital, media. Some of the most prominent scholars, however, think otherwise. Let us see why, using the example of the 2016 Trump campaign.          Andrew Chadwick describes the relationship between media and political systems in his academic bestseller on…

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