The notion that social media platforms create democratic public spaces is true, but to what extent? The benefit to democratic spaces is that individuals can conglomerate and connect with a large network to converse amongst anything, though, an online environment can unite radical beliefs, hateful speech is bound to occur. As a result, social media platforms implement limitations on free speech and censorship to reduce libel and slander, racism, incitement to violence, and hatred overall. Former U.S. president, Donald Trump is one example of a significant political figure permanently banned from several social media platforms due to the risk of further incitement of violence. It is no question that Donald Trump holds influence amongst millions of people in the U.S. and globally.

In the current age, there is an exponential shift in high social media consumption. This means that social media consumption includes current news events. In the Social media and political partisanship – A subaltern public sphere’s role in democracy article, it states social media users “may become overly critical and extreme in their discourses and actions as they refuse to expose themselves to opposing or alternative views. The polarization and extremity of public discourses were demonstrated in the Trump–Clinton Presidential Election in 2016” (Lee et. al, 2018, p. 1950). Social media users gravitate towards content of the political mainstream rather than engaging in content that is not of their interest, creating the “echo chamber effect” and algorithms of selective exposure and avoidance. 

The notion of digital democratic platforms also entails that individuals should be able to enjoy the internet. Individuals value their digital rights as censorship takes part in nations like China and Iran which “restrict the citizens’ access to contents using multi-layered censoring system” (Jha Kodila-Tedika, 2020).  In the Does social media promote democracy? Some empirical evidence article, the right to share political content is valued as “this issue has become even more important because freedom on the net is under threat in several parts of the world including many democratic countries which are considered to be leaders in providing freedom to its citizens such as the United Kingdom and the United States” (Jha Kodila-Tedika, 2020). Restricting citizens’ access to several social media platforms is a form of anti-democratic policies where public spaces are diminished. 

It is important to note that these digital platforms hold democratic freedom, but at a cost where individuals’ are accountable for their information intake. As I have noted earlier that individuals’ tend to gravitate towards dialogue with their own political stance, and engage with platforms they have that censorship does not block, the accountability factor of knowing whether individuals’ are consuming unbiased opinions is up to their discretion. In the Social media filtering and democracy: Effects of social media news use and uncivil political discussion on social media unfriending article, it brings the objective of limiting your network by unfriending, blocking, or removing “maybe justified by the uncivil, redundant, or thoughtless perspectives and attitudes publicly exposed in social media. In some of these cases, citizens may not lose critical information for understanding public politics, salient or minority issues, as the information encountered may have limited value at best” (Goyanes et. al, 2021, p. 7). The lack of polarizing content on an individuals’ social media feed may be a reflection of democratic digital freedom, however, lack substance in creating spaces for all people. Typically, individuals will choose to do this and deem this as online spaces truly representing democracy where misinformation is restricted, but reliable news is limited.

In recent events, we can consider what social media platforms have done for digital democracy, and democracy offline. In the Rethinking Democracy with Social Media article, we see that most countries have “experienced widespread demonstration, protest or campaigning for political change taking place on social media” (Margetts, 2019, p. 109). In hindsight, thousands of individuals’ participating may deem to encourage systemic change, however, have minimal effect. In news media, “there is an obvious selection bias in favour of the successful mobilisations, which are reported on TV screens and circulate on social media, compared with all the failed mobilisations that we never see” (Margetts, 2019, p. 109). Democratic social media platforms uniting to stratify social change through protests almost never succeed. 

When democracy is perceived in a negative light, we blame social media and technology that digital public spaces enforce fake news. We criticize social media for creating the dynamic of refusing political discourse with the uneducated and misinformed. We overlook that “false political news tends to spread more quickly and further than verified news” (Margetts, 2019, p. 116). Though yes, I have argued that social media platforms create democratic spaces for dialogue to a certain extent from censorship, our digital rights are not always necessarily unbiased in topics of politics like Donald Trump’s presidency.


Goyanes, Borah, P., & Gil de Zúñiga, H. (2021). Social media filtering and democracy: Effects of social media news use and uncivil political discussions on social media unfriending. Computers in Human Behavior, 120, 106759. 

Jha, & Kodila-Tedika, O. (2020). Does social media promote democracy? Some empirical evidence. Journal of Policy Modeling, 42(2), 271–290. 

Lee, So, C. Y. K., Lee, F., Leung, L., & Chan, M. (2018). Social media and political partisanship – A subaltern public sphere’s role in democracy. Telematics and Informatics, 35(7), 1949–1957. 

Margetts. (2019). 9. Rethinking Democracy with Social Media. The Political Quarterly (London. 1930), 90(S1), 107–123. 

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