Teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has recently threatened to quit Facebook, claiming hate speech directed to her on the platform is encouraging violence.
People will indeed say plenty of mean things on social media, but this isn’t one of those things people need to deal with when they find themselves at odds with the public eye.
Thunberg, apparently, has called upon Facebook, the tech giant, to remove her opponents on the platform.
Thunberg wrote in a recent Facebook post:
“I am, like many others, questioning whether I should keep using Facebook or not. Allowing hate speech, the lack of fact-checking, and, of course, the issues of interfering with democracy… are among many, many other things that are very upsetting.”
“The constant lies and conspiracy theories about me and countless others, of course, result in hate, death threats and ultimately violence. This could easily be stopped if Facebook wanted to. I find the lack of taking responsibility very disturbing.”
Social media critics and shammers are a problem. And there have been plenty of slamming on Thunberg, just as there is with anyone else who find themselves at the center of global policy debates.
Yet the 16-year-old seems unready for the realities of the real world, including the fact that there are people who will disagree with her, whether she does good or bad. She’s finding criticism enervating, suggesting that those who are opposing her crusade are “interfering with democracy,” and they should be censored by Facebook.
The climate icon and the founder of “Youth Climate Strike” urged her fans to “challenge” Facebook to silence her antagonists, insisting that “if enough of us demand change — then change will come.”
Thunberg’s social media issues don’t end with Facebook, however. She similarly complained that Twitter hasn’t done an excellent job of protecting her, either.
On an earlier Tweet, she wrote:
“It has come to my attention that a few people have been trying to impersonate me or falsely claim that they ‘represent’ me in order to communicate with political leaders, famous actors, singers and musicians.”
The threats against Thunberg are uncalled for, but that doesn’t mean that we should shut down discourse on such types of issues. People should always expect to find disagreements on the internet, especially when they come out so passionately about “controversial topics.”
Luckily, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently announced that the platform will be banning all political ads from their platform.
This will restrict not only free speech but also prevent influential political organizations from influencing people on the site.