I’ve written about free speech a bit on this site. It’s a subject I am passionate about and I think we should all have the right of freedom of expression no matter where we live. Sadly, we’re a long way for this, what I consider and essential freedom, to be implemented everywhere.
In fact, more and more we see governments around the world restricting speech they don’t approve of, even to the point of censoring and even jailing those that dare commit the offense of just stating their opinion..
It doesn’t matter what the opinion necessarily is either. A person can make a poor joke online and be prosecuted for just that: a joke. Being insensitive to another’s feelings? Thats a no-no and beware, in some countries they are watching you.
We’re seeing the same thing in social media as well. These bastions of the protections of speech have now become their own police force; They regularly suspend or even delete accounts that they consider fake news or harmful to the community at large. Who decides at these tech giants what we should see or not? Well, of course, they do.
I’m not saying that there haven’t been accounts suspended or deleted with good cause, but sometimes it appears to be arbitrary. I don’t like what is being said by this person so, Wham!, that user has disappeared from that platform, temporarily or permanently.
Of course they have the right to do whatever they like. I’ve said this before and I defend that position now. But don’t pretend to be an open platform where people are able to express their (lawful) opinions on any subject and then bring down the ban hammer because either the platform didn’t like what was being said, or it offended a few people, maybe a special interest group.
Often, when I write here, I’ll include links to data or stories concerning the topic. One thing I almost never see is anyone clicking on the links within a post I use for reference. How do I know this? I can see this through my daily stats. I guess some viewers are either uninterested in the links or what’s even more disturbing, take what I have to say as truth without considering that what I may be opining on is a biased view.
I try not to do that, but then this makes me think that we all do this, all the time. How many times do we read online news stories, or op-ed’s, with links included, that we never investigate. How do we know what’s being presented to us is a fair account, looking for the truth in a matter?
We like to blame social media and other platforms for what is going on today. They have too much power, maybe they should be broken up where others may be able to compete with them. But these companies have that power because we, users, gave it to them, willingly. We’re the ones that wanted all of the people kicked off for saying or writing things we find abhorrent. Until that person is one of us.
Now we want government to step into the mess we made all by ourselves. Does anyone think when governments become directly involved in speech that any good will come of it?