The Leavitt Center held a Pizza and Politics event on Wednesday about online privacy and censorship. Students of all majors engaged with each other about the ideal morals and ethics of government and private corporations’ censorship policies.
The event covered a variety of censorship policies in the United States, ranging from policies found in the Pentagon Papers to social media. Students were prompted to respond and share their thoughts on each of the censorship topics.
Students were first asked to question the validity of the U.S. government when it came to keeping acts of war from the public, and whether it is justified that government institutions limit the knowledge of U.S. military actions abroad.
An array of answers surfaced from the students — those who supported the military keeping documents classified to protect national security versus those who supported the government being transparent so the public can hold the government accountable for acts abroad and because taxpayer’s dollars fund the military.
The next topic that was proposed to students was whether the actions of whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and Julian Asage are justified or not.
Some students advocated for criminal punishment for whistleblowers, claiming that their actions endanger national security and give enemies the tools to infiltrate the US.
Other students rebutted that the actions of these two whistleblowers revealed the violation by the government of Americans’ right to privacy because they were illegally monitoring personal information and activities on mobile devices.
Students were last asked if social media corporations have the right to censor or ban users from their website who inappropriately used their platforms.
The answers that came from the students were divided, with some students saying that it is not okay for corporations to ban users from social media or censor content because it violates the right to free speech. Others said it is okay because private corporations own the ability to manage their platforms at their own discretion because they are not a government-owned platform.
Students left the meeting feeling productive in their discussion and many expressed their desire to continue going to the events held by the Leavitt Center. Information about the Leavitt Center’s future Pizza and Politics events can be found on their website.
Story and photo by: Danielle Meuret