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Social Media and Freedom of Speech

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Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is a right that is given to us in  the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.  It says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Freedom of speech is defined as the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint.

Freedom of Speech on Social Media

Freedom of speech is something that many people in our generation take for granted. Because most of us have grown up with the Internet readily available to us we have a whole new platform to utilize our freedom of speech than was available when the Bill of Rights was written.

Some of the Internet sites that are most used when people are expressing their freedom of speech are Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or any other type of blog site such as WordPress.

Facebook

Facebook first became popular in the mid 2000s and has since become one of the most popular social media sites in existence.  People use it to post pictures, status’, and converse with friends.  Facebook safety says “We prohibit content deemed to be directly harmful, but allow content that is offensive or controversial. We define harmful content as anything organizing real world violence, theft, or property destruction, or that directly inflicts emotional distress on a specific private individual (e.g. bullying).  A list of prohibited categories of content can be found in our Community Standards at www.facebook.com/communitystandards.”  This shows that ultimately the freedom of speech that users have is still limited by these standards.

Twitter

Twitter was also made popular in the mid 2000s and has been a way for people to express themselves in an online format since then.  As we talked about in class Turkey recently banned Twitter but that changed two days ago.  Twitter is no longer banned because it is said to be under freedom of speech.

“This is an exceptionally strong win for freedom of expression,” Twitter wrote in its official blog post. “It will be of paramount value for us in protecting Twitter’s users against other attempts at censorship in the future.”

People often use Twitter to express their feelings and it is extremely beneficial that opinions are not censored on this media.  Freedom of speech is extremely important and Twitter is a huge online platform in which we utilize it.

Tumblr and Other Blogs

Blogs are becoming more and more popular as the Internet evolves.  Some people use the Internet as a diary and this is a perfect example of that.  Tumblr is a mix between social media and blog.  It is mostly full of reblogs of other people’s posts but it also allows for personal text posts as well as anonymous or not messages sent to other users.

Recently a problem arose concerning anonymous messaging on Tumblr.  Five blogs were suspended because of the hateful messages they were sending to other users.  Some people thought of this as an issue of free speech and limiting it but Tumblr creator David Karp responded to these accusations.

“While Tumblr has ‘absolutely no interest in censoring users,’ Mr. Karp wrote, and in fact had ‘rushed into enforcing this policy’ somewhat by mistake, he stood by the move to root out the use of Tumblr blogs for ‘harassment,’ which the new policy describes this way:

Accounts with the sole or primary purpose of repeatedly harassing or abusing specific members or groups within the Tumblr community will be suspended.

Not surprisingly, the move disturbed some bloggers who use Tumblr and others who wondered about its impact on Web culture. According to Owen Thomas of Valleywag, all five of the suspended blogs were devoted, at least partly, to criticism of the same person, a blogger Mr. Thomas describes as ‘microcelebrity egoblogger Julia Allison.’”

Sources

http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/28/turkish-court-rules-tweets-are-free-speech/

https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-safety/controversial-harmful-and-hateful-speech-on-facebook/574430655911054

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/enforcing-manners-tumblr-shuts-down-5-blogs/?hp

http://time.com/32864/turkey-bans-twitter/

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