LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Freedom of speech, it’s everyone’s right in our country. But when it comes to influential figures, lately many of them have been under fire for comments in the mainstream media, as it relates to antisemitism and racism.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen social media CEO’s like Elon Musk speak publicly about reinstating the Twitter handles of those who can be seen as problematic when it comes to their controversial views, even though communities of color and the Jewish community have become targets of hate speech.
The question many are asking is if online freedom of speech should have limitations.
“We’ve seen the impact by influencers who have big followings with some of these more painful and some of these hateful tropes kind of get spread around,” said rabbi Tom Cook.
Cook is the President of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Lansing and believes social media has played a huge role in the rumors surrounding those of Jewish descent.
“Jewish people control the media, that we control the financial sector. Things that unfortunately have been around for a long time. Other things in terms of our religious practices, that people have either misinterpreted or fabricated are hurtful,” said Cook.
He says rumors like these have made the Jewish community feel unsafe, and now conversations in his congregation are not just about religion.
“It’s the security measures. It’s the conversations we have to have with local law enforcement and state police about the activity that’s happening,” said Cook.
“Unfortunately, some of the hateful things can engage people very well,” said Anjana Susarla.
Susarla, a social media expert from MSU, says larger platforms need to have mandatory guidelines and CEOs like Elon Musk should deactivate accounts promoting hate speech.
“If you see some inflammatory content, then there’s like a rabbit hole of people who believe in that and engage in that,” said Susarla
“The platform does not have any policies in place so that it does not amplify hateful content, it will end up getting more visibility,” said Susarla.
But with no censorship, Cook says it boils down to the users to stop spreading negativity.
Cook says although the backlash has been more apparent, he’s thankful for the support his congregation has received from law enforcement and the community.