THE MANY VOICES OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Social Media is a wonderful thing isn’t it? It is literally turning the way we communicate upside down! Social Media allows ANYONE to have a voice and be heard, which is both liberating and scary. While Social Media promotes the Freedom of Speech and the opportunity for anyone to share their views and opinions, where do we draw the line on commentary that is hateful and even harmful? Are there clear ethics or even a “moral compass” to Social Media or is that not even possible?
In this post, you are going to get a few random thoughts that have been percolating in my head for sometime, so bear with me…. I have a point to make.
Over the past few days, I am sure you have all watched the events unfold in Iran following the tainted election results. We have seen a Twitter Revolution emerge as many Iranians tweet their concerns and disgust over the political corruption in their country. One university student in Tehran actually had his website shut down and was attacked, but was able to still let his voice be heard through Twitter.
Social Network sites like Twitter and Facebook are giving a global voice to people who would typically not even have a voice in their own country – truly amazing!
Social Networks have given a voice to great organizations like the Salvation Army to bring awareness and increase their donation base during a down economy.
A Facebook group helped to raise awareness and build support for an American Father (David Goldman) seeking to regain custody of his son who was taken to Brazil.
Social Media has provided amazing opportunities for people to have a voice and share their plight and situation.
Now, if I was to stop there, we would all say… WOW, Social Media is having such a powerful and positive impact on our world (which it is), but let’s look at the other voices emerging as well.
A couple weeks back, an interesting post emerged on Tech Crunch titled, “Holocaust Museum Death Won’t Change Facebook’s Mind on Hate, But Advertisers May be Able To.“ A great dialogue ensued on the ethics of allowing Anti-semetic Hate groups to set-up Facebook groups to collectively voice their harmful views. There are Facebook groups promoting the idea that the Jewish Holocaust which saw 6 millions Jews murdered was just a myth.
These groups are given the opportunity to share their hateful and discriminative opinions on Facebook and other Social Networks. Is that right? Should we give a voice to those that promote hate against certain races? Are we able to draw a moral line in the sand where certain voices are accepted and others are not? Is that possible?
Take for instance this story…. A few months ago, a Facebook group emerged called “National Kick a Ginger Day“, in which they encouraged their members to “get them steel toe boots ready” and kick a red-head at school. Well, even though the founder of the group said it was just a big joke, many acts of violence occured that day as a result of this nasty Facebook campaign.
So, I ask the question again….Where do we draw the line on WHO should have a voice in Social Media?
Some say that censorship on Social Networks will only hinder freedom of speech and ruin the original intent of Social Media. That is one perspective.
Here is my thought…. While I love the freedoms of Social Media and the voice it gives to the average person, I believe that a moral line DOES need to be drawn in the sand. I believe that Facebook should monitor, screen and ban groups that promote hate or harm to another human being. You might say that everyone is entitled to their opinion, even those with hateful sentiments towards another race. I would say that in our history, we have seen these types of groups act out their hateful views through violent means (Such as the recent shooting at the Holocaust museum in Washington), so why give a voice to group with a capacity for harm?
I believe that sites like Facebook and Twitter need to have a screening criteria in place that flags those posts or groups that are promoting hatred or harm to others. Isn’t that the right thing to do?
These thoughts have been floating around in my head for a while and I just needed to get them out! Again, I truly believe Social Media is a great thing, but I still think there are some guidelines or measures that need to be put in place to prevent these kind of groups and commentary from easily finding a voice in the Social Networks.
Okay, I am finished….. I need to hear others perspectives on this? What do you think? Where do you stand on this?