We've seen an unprecedented level of censorship on social media in 2019. And now YouTube star PewDiePie (real name Felix Kjellberg) is calling these social media sites out failing to protect free speech.
The issue of free speech came up in the latest edition of Pew News – a show where PewDiePie discusses recent news events. In the final segment of the show, PewDiePie talked about the streamer HelenaLive (real name Helena Karamanido) being banned from Twitch. If you're not familiar with this situation, HelenaLive alleges that she was permanently banned from Twitch for saying “there are only two genders” – a statement which she claims Twitch deemed to be an insult towards the transgender community.
PewDiePie responds to the story by acknowledging that discussing transgender issues is a sensitive topic for a lot of people but goes on to say the situation is pretty concerning.
He then states that if she was banned for what she said:
“Twitch seems to be pretty strongly against freedom of speech if that's the case. As long as she wasn't inciting violence or harm against anyone, she should have every right to express her opinion about it, whether you agree with it or not. It's pretty concerning how these websites are shutting down people voicing their opinion on a subject because it might offend a community of people. I mean that just doesn't seem right to me. This bending of freedom of speech just to appease a group of people. We're living in really strange times right now. Really strange times. I would be concerned if I was a Twitch streamer, to say the least. Jesus Christ. I mean, as much flack as I give YouTube, at least I haven't seen them pull any stuff like this. I know YouTube still is working hard to protect freedom of speech and they know how important that is. To see Twitch make a decision like this is very concerning.”
While YouTube's attitude towards free speech could also be questioned, PewDiePie is spot on with what he says about Twitch and the concerning pattern of censorship across social media.
PewDiePie is the latest in a series of high profile figures to bring more attention to the issues of censorship and free speech on the internet. Yesterday Donald Trump Jr. called out big tech companies for their hypocritical attitude towards speech and Joe Rogan recently shone a huge spotlight on this issue after facing major backlash for his softball interview with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
The online free speech debate is really heating up and it's great to have people like PewDiePie calling out big tech censorship and standing up for people's right to express their opinion on social media platforms.