By: Yoni Manor
The horrific acts of violence at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6 left many Americans on both sides of the aisle in shock. Many have blamed President Trump for the invasion of the Capitol, pointing to his insistent protesting of the 2020 election results and his call to march to the Capitol during his “March To Save America” rally on the day of the riot.
On Jan. 13, the House of Representatives impeached President Trump for inciting an insurrection. This is now the second time President Trump has been impeached, setting a disturbing historic precedent. However, the Senate will most likely find him not guilty.
Some have gone on to suggest that President Trump’s cabinet should invoke the 25th Amendment, which would remove President Trump from office, citing that he is unable to serve his duties as commander-in-chief. Vice President Mike Pence would immediately assume the powers and duties of the office until inauguration day if this were to happen, but it seems extremely unlikely.
The anger and disapproval towards President Trump and his administration is understandable, considering he incited the violence that ensued at the Capitol, but was he the only or even the main cause of the events that took place? Far from it.
Days after the attack on the Capitol, almost every social media company banned Trump from using their platform, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and many more. Parler, the only social media app that didn’t ban Trump, was taken off the app store by Apple and Google and its website was shut down by its website host, Amazon. Many rejoiced in this de-platforming of Trump and praised the social media titans that censored him.
Yet those same social media companies that have been viewed as heroes following the Capitol riots are really the villains. The same companies that people think are solving the problem are actually the ones that created it.
Millions of Americans have used social media over the past decade and have not realized the profound effects it has had on their lives and perspectives. Social media algorithms are designed to provide the user with optimal entertainment and news, catering exactly to people’s interests, personality, ethnic background and — most importantly — political viewpoints. Because of this invasive and individualized technology, social media apps are able to show you exactly what you want to see. You may think that’s a good thing, but when it comes to reading and learning about news, current events and politics, it can be extremely problematic.
American news has become so politicized and opinion-based that every current event is covered differently depending on the news organization. Social media apps will tailor your news feed based on your political views, showing you media that you are inclined to listen to and believe. This creates an echo chamber for each user on a social media platform, putting them in a bubble where they are not exposed to different information or opposing viewpoints.
A catastrophic event like what happened at the Capitol was inevitable, whether you want to believe it or not. The riots that took place on Jan. 6 were simply the results of years of increasing polarization due to social media. It was just the tip of the iceberg.
While Facebook and Twitter ban Trump for his divisive rhetoric and election fraud conspiracies, Neo-Nazis and white supremacists are still being allowed to post Holocaust denial propaganda with little to no repercussions. The radical Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini still has a Twitter account, but President Trump doesn’t. It seems as though these social media companies don’t have their priorities straight. Instead of censoring clear-cut hate speech, companies like Twitter took down an article posted by The New York Post about Hunter Biden’s business deals with China because it was considered, “election tampering”.
Nobody elected Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg to control the political dialogue in our country and whether they have realized it or not, they have made it worse. Congress has already taken steps to try to limit the influence of these media companies. The Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general from 46 states have filed lawsuits against Facebook for using illegal monopoly power to stifle competition, ordering them to sell Instagram and WhatsApp. These actions should only be the beginning.
These platforms have poisoned the roots of our nation. The problem will only get worse if something isn’t done on a systemic level. To fix this problem, we cannot point our fingers at Trump as the only culprit. This polarization stems back way before Trump was even elected, and it has only strengthened over the years. Most Americans are somewhere in the middle politically, but due to social media, more and more people are starting to leave the middle of the political spectrum and are becoming more radical on either side.
If you think the division in our country will magically heal once Joe Biden is sworn into office, you’re wrong. Americans need to step out of their echo chambers and listen to one another before a second civil war breaks out.