Deplatforming, also known as no-platforming, is a form of political activism or prior restraint by an individual, group, or organization with the goal of shutting down controversial speakers or speech, or denying them access to a venue in which to express their opinion. Tactics used to achieve this goal among community groups include direct action, and Internet activism. It is also a method used by social media and other technology companies to selectively suspend, ban, or otherwise restrict access to their platform by users who have allegedly violated the platform’s terms of service, particularly terms regarding hate speech.

“Banking and financial service providers, among other companies, have also denied services to controversial activists or organizations, a practice known as financial deplatforming. The term deplatforming also refers generally to tactics, often organized using social media, for preventing controversial speakers or speech from being heard. Deplatforming tactics have included disruption of speeches, attempts to have speakers disinvited to a venue or event, and various forms of personal harassment including efforts to have an individual fired or blacklisted.”

Social media[edit | edit source]

“As early as 2015, platforms such as Reddit began to enforce selective bans based, for example, on terms of service prohibiting ‘hate speech.’ According to technology journalist Declan McCullagh, ‘Silicon Valley's efforts to pull the plug on dissenting opinions’ began around 2018 with Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube denying service to selected users of their platforms, ‘devising excuses to suspend ideologically disfavored accounts.’

“Law professor Glenn Reynolds dubbed 2018 the ‘Year of Deplatforming,’ in an August 2018 article in The Wall Street Journal. According to Reynolds, in 2018 ‘the internet giants decided to slam the gates on a number of people and ideas they don’t like. If you rely on someone else’s platform to express unpopular ideas, especially ideas on the right, you’re now at risk.’ Reynolds cited Alex Jones, Gavin McInnes, and Dennis Prager as prominent 2018 victims of deplatforming based on their political views, noting, ‘Extremists and controversialists on the left have been relatively safe from deplatforming.’

“Deplatforming has typically targeted individuals or organizations who use free accounts on social media platforms. In February 2019, McCullagh predicted that paying customers would become targets for deplatforming as well, citing protests and open letters by employees of Amazon, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Google who opposed policies of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and who reportedly sought to influence their employers to deplatform the agency and its contractors.

“Supporters of deplatforming have justified the action on the grounds that it produces the desired effect of reducing what they characterize as ‘hate speech.’ Angelo Carusone, president of the progressive organization Media Matters for America, pointed to Twitter’s 2016 ban of Milo Yiannopoulos, stating that ‘the result was that he lost a lot.... He lost his ability to be influential or at least to project a veneer of influence.’”[1]

Psychic deplatforming[edit | edit source]

Paranoia[edit | edit source]

“Paranoia is an instinct or thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself (e.g. the American colloquial phrase, ‘Everyone is out to get me’). Paranoia is distinct from phobias, which also involve irrational fear, but usually no blame. Making false accusations and the general distrust of other people also frequently accompany paranoia. For example, an incident most people would view as an accident or coincidence, a paranoid person might believe was intentional. Paranoia is a central symptom of psychosis.”

Causes[edit | edit source]

Social and environmental[edit | edit source]

“Social circumstances appear to be highly influential on paranoid beliefs. Based on data collected by means of a mental health survey distributed to residents of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua (in Mexico) and El Paso, Texas (in the United States), paranoid beliefs seem to be associated with feelings of powerlessness and victimization, enhanced by social situations. Potential causes of these effects included a sense of believing in external control, and mistrust which can be strengthened by lower socioeconomic status. Those living in a lower socioeconomic status may feel less in control of their own lives. In addition, this study explains that females have the tendency to believe in external control at a higher rate than males, potentially making females more susceptible to mistrust and the effects of socioeconomic status on paranoia.

“Emanuel Messinger reports that surveys have revealed that those exhibiting paranoia can evolve from parental relationships and untrustworthy environments. These environments could include being very disciplinary, stringent, and unstable. It was even noted that, ‘indulging and pampering (thereby impressing the child that he is something special and warrants special privileges),’ can be contributing backgrounds. Experiences likely to enhance or manifest the symptoms of paranoia include increased rates of disappointment, stress, and a hopeless state of mind.

“Discrimination has also been reported as a potential predictor of paranoid delusions. Such reports that paranoia seemed to appear more in older patients who had experienced higher levels of discrimination throughout their lives. In addition to this it has been noted that immigrants are quite susceptible to forms of psychosis. This could be due to the aforementioned effects of discriminatory events and humiliation.

Psychological[edit | edit source]

“Many more mood-based symptoms, grandiosity and guilt, may underlie functional paranoia.

“Colby (1981) defined paranoid cognition in terms of persecutory delusions and false beliefs whose propositional content clusters around ideas of being harassed, threatened, harmed, subjugated, persecuted, accused, mistreated, wronged, tormented, disparaged, vilified, and so on, by malevolent others, either specific individuals or groups (p. 518). Three components of paranoid cognition have been identified by Robins & Post: a) suspicions without enough basis that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving them; b) preoccupation with unjustified doubts about the loyalty, or trustworthiness, of friends or associates; c) reluctance to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against them (1997, p. 3).

“Paranoid cognition has been conceptualized by clinical psychology almost exclusively in terms of psychodynamic constructs and dispositional variables. From this point of view, paranoid cognition is a manifestation of an intra-psychic conflict or disturbance. For instance, Colby (1981) suggested that the biases of blaming others for one’s problems serve to alleviate the distress produced by the feeling of being humiliated, and helps to repudiate the belief that the self is to blame for such incompetence. This intra-psychic perspective emphasize that the cause of paranoid cognitions are inside the head of the people (social perceiver), and dismiss the fact that paranoid cognition may be related with the social context in which such cognitions are embedded. This point is extremely relevant because when origins of distrust and suspicion (two components of paranoid cognition) are studied many researchers have accentuated the importance of social interaction, particularly when social interaction has gone awry. Even more, a model of trust development pointed out that trust increases or decreases as a function of the cumulative history of interaction between two or more persons.

“Another relevant difference can be discerned among ‘pathological and non-pathological forms of trust and distrust.’ According to Deutsch, the main difference is that non-pathological forms are flexible and responsive to changing circumstances. Pathological forms reflect exaggerated perceptual biases and judgmental predispositions that can arise and perpetuate them, are reflexively caused errors similar to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“It has been suggested that a ‘hierarchy’ of paranoia exists, extending from mild social evaluative concerns, through ideas of social reference, to persecutory beliefs concerning mild, moderate, and severe threats.”[2]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. “Deplatforming - Wikipedia.” 2019. June 24, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deplatforming.
  2. “Paranoia - Wikipedia.” 2019. June 10, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranoia.

External links[edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.