Determined to Punish Those Who Say Things They Don't Like on Social Media

social media communication

This post is not about censorship, cancel culture, or free speech. It is not about whether social media companies should ban certain users from their platforms. Instead, it is about those who use various social media platforms and why many seek to have others banned for saying things they don't like. Content creators deserve better than the abuse that often comes their way; we all do. What I don't get are the people who report anyone who says anything they don't like to punish the "offender."

I follow a high-profile atheist author on Twitter who does this several times a week. She blocks people who say things she doesn't like, reports their accounts, and encourages others to do the same. The only point to doing this, as far as I can tell, is to make it more likely that Twitter will ban these accounts. I'm not claiming something like this is never justified. I've looked at several of the offending tweets and have yet to see one that I thought warranted this type of action.

People have different perceptions of whether particular content deserves reporting. The fact that she and I differ doesn't make me right and her wrong or vice-versa. It means that we have different opinions on this question. I know she gets a lot of crap, and that is unfortunate. But she doesn't seem to be very selective about what she reports. Maybe it is easier to report everything.

The part I find interesting is that she asks her followers to report every tweet she reports. She recognizes that Twitter is more likely to ban an account if lots of people complain about it. I've never reported any of these accounts. I see no reason to get someone banned for saying something someone else didn't like. As I mentioned above, I haven't found any of these tweets to be anything more than a mild annoyance. But that isn't the only reason. I've also never done so because I abhor vigilantism and believe that atheists, of all people, should be wary of mob justice. We have better options when faced with bad ideas than trying to suppress them.

It seems like I am in the minority here and that mine is an unpopular position. I don't know if this is the case, but it does seem that way to me. The person I referred to above is far from the only one I have seen doing this on Twitter. I understand the desire not to interact with people who say things perceived as hateful or annoying on social media. That's why we can block or mute accounts. Reporting people with the goal of having their accounts banned seems different to me. I guess I don't have any interest in punishing others for saying things I don't like. I have even less interest in punishing people for saying things others don't like.