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Social Media And The Freedom Of Speech

Are we getting off-track?

Freedom of speech is a very difficult area when it comes to social media due to the schools and workplaces adopting strict rules on what can and can’t be said. This suggests there is no freedom of speech as companies discipline an employee based on what they say about certain events or topics.

Source: socialappshq.com

When it comes to free speech, the Internet has seemed to have lost its way slightly. There have been a history of prosecutions for material posted on social media sites and Internet forums that have raised questions about the state of the law that limits free speech. These are worrying and are causing uproar not only in the UK but also around the globe as people battle Internet censorship.

Last year there was a rise in prosecutions related to Internet content, and in one week alone, a 19-year-old man was sentenced to 12 weeks in a young offenders institution after positing comments about two girls who were missing at the time. Also a 20-year-old man was sentenced to 240 hours community service for posting comments about dead soldiers on his Facebook page. This suggests that the rules are very selective, as you can look down any Facebook timeline and see derogatory comments about a religion or foreign group.

There have also been a lot of sport related arguments, which have resulted in prosecutions, and again, last year a 21-year old man was sentenced to 56 days in prison for racist comments on Twitter about a seriously ill black footballer. Of course this is terrible, but it should be well-established that freedom of expression includes the freedom to shock, offend and disturb. This is often overlooked due to the amplification of social media, and conversations that only took place in a small friendship group now take centre stage on the Internet.

Source: ilfusion.com

It is an interesting debate because on one side of the coin if you let people say what they want all the time, in any form of communication, there is room to hurt other human beings, and make threats that if on the receiving end are very frightening and can destroy lives. This has been displayed over the years, and it is becoming a growing issue, especially on Twitter. If free speech is taken away (as it seemingly is) the government faces the risk of shattering democracy altogether, as we already live in a highly governed state. Many will use this argument as a tool to protest against the authorities when this issue reaches breaking point.

As social media progresses through the ages, it will be interesting to see what stance both the general public and authorities will take on the freedom of speech argument. The issue is moving so fast that the public could use it against the government if there are any flashpoints in the future, whilst opposing parties could use the lack of free speech on the Internet to try and get one up on the authorities in charge.

Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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Social Media And The Freedom Of Speech Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 Rating: 5
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