Donald Trump Jr. sent out a blunt tweet about the scrubbing of YouTube shooter Nasim Aghdam’s social media accounts, asking why her hate-filled rants were so quickly pulled, and wondering aloud if authorities would’ve acted with such speed had she been a member of the National Rifle Association member rather than a liberal activist and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals supporter.
He has a point. And it’s actually larger than the one he was making. It’s actually one that goes to the right of the people to know versus the right of the police to investigate.
First, Trump Jr.’s tweet: “You think there’s any chance whatsoever that a mass shooters hateful Instagram and YouTube channels would be pulled immediately if they were NRA members as opposed to liberal Vegan PETA activists? Asking for a few million friends in the @NRA.”
His comments came as authorities released both the name of the shooter, 39-year-old Aghdam, as well as her possible motive — first reported as a dispute with her boyfriend and then reported as tied to anger with YouTube over what she said in a video in January 2017 was the company’s censorship of her frequently posted content.
On Facebook back then, for example, she wrote, “there is not equal growth opportunity on YouTube.” It was one complaint she made of many.
She used the ID “NasimWonder1” for her YouTube account. And the About section described her this way: “Nasim the Persian Azeri female vegan bodybuilder, also animal rights activist promoting healthy and humane living. Nasim produced and launched the first Persian TV commercial and music video (Do You Dare) regarding animal rights and veganism through international Iranian satellite Television in 2010.”
OK; so she was pretty liberal.
But don’t bother checking her YouTube account for more. It’s been shuttered, along with her Instagram site.
And as Trump Jr. noted: Why the hurry to shut them down?
Excellent question. Why indeed? But the eyebrow-raise goes to more than just bias — it goes to more than just the double standard that Trump Jr. was suggesting. Really, this is a question of why police shut off such information from the public at all.
Social media accounts of suspects in notable criminal cases are routinely removed during the investigative process — some, as Trump Jr. suggests, more quickly than others. But removing these accounts puts a clamp on what the public can discern about these suspects.
It puts the police in complete charge of the information flow.
And for what valid reason?
Police, of course, have a right to pursue investigations in ways that won’t be compromised — including roping off crime scenes and, when necessary, limiting what information is handed to the press.
But social media information is already public — it’s already out there, readily consumed by any interested eyes that happen to the page. It’s negligible that automatically shuttering these accounts does anything more than limit what people can discern on their own — and in a free society, relying completely on the police and government to provide truthful, accurate and complete information is never a smart move.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
© Copyright (c) 2018 News World Communications, Inc.