When the Internet started out it was hailed as a great enabler. It allowed people from all walks of life, races, creeds and cultures to talk and debate. Freedom of speech was the mantra and the future looked exciting.
However, Homo sapiens - with its inimitable flair - has managed to subvert this powerful tool. It is felt that rather than encouraging healthy debate it is allowing extremism to flourish. It is thought that some sites are only visited by people of a 'like mind' and that dangerous ideologies are thus being allowed to gain a certain legitimacy. This has prompted many to feel that not enough is being done by the various social media sites to stamp out 'hate speech' and the spread of radical ideas.
Indeed, all the major social media sites including Facebook, Kickstarter, Patreon, Reddit, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube have been forced to reevaluate their policies towards 'hate speech'. However, it is becoming clear that they are struggling with the problem of how to define the boundary between free speech and censorship.
Perhaps we need to ask ourselves - is it really fair to expect social media sites to decide what us inflammatory and what is allowed? Indeed, the recent tragic events in Charlottesville have served to throw a spotlight on this very question. Perhaps social media is just mirroring the faults of society as a whole. Hopefully social media will soon find a way around this thorny problem. Social media is an amazing tool when used responsibly. It allows users to meet, connect and even do business online. It seems tragic that some groups are subverting something which has been and can continue to be such a force for good.
Snapchat: “Hate speech, and any group that promotes it, will never be tolerated on Snapchat. It demeans, defames, or promotes discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, disability, or veteran status."
Twitter: "The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies. Our terms of service prohibits conduct that promotes violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories."
Tumblr: "The Tumblr team is continually having important and tough conversations around the complexities of free speech,and we are dedicated to empowering positive and productive conversations among the communities that thrive on the platform."
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