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Should the Government Protect Free Speech in Media

The ability to share information as well as find it on the internet is one of the great features of the online world, however, false information can become a problem very quickly. Now, while cases of true censorship do not happen often, there are many more cases of incidents where someone posts something controversial and the post is removed for one reason or another. In more extreme cases, users sometimes have their entire account deleted and they are blacklisted from using the site. This has been the case across several platforms and both sides of the political spectrum have been victims. Last year in May, Breitbart, a conservative news source, reported that Facebook deleted the accounts of several high-profile conservative figures even though they had never pushed for violence or advocated for far-right policies (Nolan). Another case of censorship comes from google, where the company cut the amount of traffic left-leaning news sites were receiving, thus blocking the information they provided from reaching the general public (Damon).

Should the Government Protect Free Speech in Media

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On their own, these incidents don’t cause much trouble, but as the cases build upon one another, the media has slowly pushed everyone into echo chambers. These echo chambers create an environment where unbiased information becomes rare and you have to specifically look for the sources of one side or the other in order to get both sides of an argument (Echo Chamber). These echo chambers affect everyone who uses the internet, from a journalist looking for their next big story, to a young adult truly looking into politics for the first time in their life. By having the government protect free speech in media, it could have several effects on the people who use the media, the people who run the media, politicians, children, and the government itself.

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The general population is by far the most significantly affected group by this phenomenon since they are the voters who will determine which politicians are elected to represent their state and our country as a whole. This group can be divided into three very basic political groups: Conservatives, Leftists, and the neutral. These groups are very basic and they all have their own subgroups but for the purpose of this paper, these will suffice. Conservatives and Leftists both agree on the level of fact, that censorship is an issue that exists and affects people, they agree on the definition that censorship is the silencing of one for their own opinions. They continue in agreement onto quality, thinking that it is an issue worth looking into, though neither side has made any serious push into the issue. They diverge and go into stasis at the level of policy. Some think that if anything should be censored, it should be information that is considered to be fake, or harmful to public health, and others believe that any information that advocates hate should also be removed, regardless of political positioning. Neither side however, can agree on what information should and should not be removed from the public eye.

The neutral can be severely affected by this, however, as they are the ones who go to the internet and social media seeking information on one issue or another, and are confronted with loads of information that is either entirely false or heavily biased. These problems end up with a widening political divide in the country that results in more violence and less cohesion as a nation. However, censorship does have a positive effect on removing people who are openly hateful towards other groups simply for a difference of opinion. Hate is a strong feeling that can quickly turn into a much bigger problem when people use it and gain a following. This, in turn, allows humanity’s more inhumane ideologies to flourish, and social media is a perfect ground to recruit young, uninformed individuals into these ideologies. In these cases, censorship does do society a favor by keeping the ideologies from coming to the forefront of politics.

Big media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google all have a hand in the problem, as they are the administrators responsible for deciding what counts as “safe for the public”. Usually, each company censors things depending on its own CEO or owner’s political views. Due to them being private corporations and not public domains, they do have a right to regulate their own platforms as they see fit. Last year, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, made a statement that said his company would not censor political speech, however, also claim they want to make an effort to take down posts that they deem as fake and harmful to the public (Kang). Twitter’s purge of alt-right accounts in 2016 also happened to lump in several conservative figures that were not associated with the far-right in any way (Ingram). Twitter’s CEO responded by saying they would not tolerate abuse on their platform in any way, even though many leftist accounts on the platform that regularly call for violence and other hateful acts are allowed to continue operating (Ingram).

However, while platforms do reserve the right to have the content that they want on their platforms, they should try to at least maintain a level of consistency in what they blacklist from their site. While they continue to remove the accounts of political figures that go against their own views, there are several platforms that still allow pages that openly support terrorist groups or advocate for them to continue operating freely (Frenkel). Many of these groups are still able to operate their pages due to loopholes that they exploit in the platform’s community guidelines, where as long as they don’t post any overtly violent content, they are still protected by the platform’s own guidelines, even when the group itself is classified under the US government as a terrorist organization. This, as said by New York Times reporter, Sheera Frenkel, “The change thrusts Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter into complicated territory.” as the media companies must choose between adhering to their own guidelines or shutting down the pages in the name of combating terrorism (Frenkel).

Career politicians are another group of people that have a place in this issue. They might spend their entire lives competing for a position of office of their state and others even going farther to try and attain higher offices such as the presidency. Advances in technology made over the last few decades have made it much easier to find corrupt politicians who do their dirty business through the internet. Hackers and journalists who specifically look for these small details are some politician’s biggest threats to their positions. A small giveaway in a politician’s records can easily ruin any chance of them furthering their careers. However, if media companies were to censor some forms of political speech, it might choke the voices of those who try to call out corrupt politicians. If people are not able to voice their protest against a politician who could be committing illegal acts under the guise of politics, it can harm our government, and by extension, our country as a whole. This is a more negative side of censorship as if someone who uses a platform were to try and call out a politician who has a possible history of dirty business, the administrators of the platform who might avidly support this politician could shut down the person’s protests in the name of keeping false information off their platforms.

Children and other young adults are the sprouting leaders and workers of tomorrow and they are growing up in a new world where computers and the internet run some of the biggest areas of society. They have access to the entire extent of human knowledge at their fingertips and they don’t ever really understand the gravity of it. The reason why children can be affected by censorship in the media is that children are much more susceptible to ideological indoctrination (Bremmer). When young people are restricted in their access to information and are forced to look at biased sources, they begin to believe that the bias and sometimes outright lies are the truth. They will go through their lives believing that the way they learned is the only way and become unable to make their own, informed decisions about a topic. These tragic cases where a young adult prefers to fall back to repeating heavily biased information and believing what his like-minded associates do rather than looking into actual research on a subject only amplifies the effects of echo chambers. However, there are some upsides to protecting the eyes of young internet users. The internet, having only launched thirty years ago, is still early in its life and can be a dangerous place. Many hate groups that were once squashed out of the political world because of their ideologies past crimes have begun to make a resurgence in small pockets of the online world. Neo-Nazism is an example of these ideologies, as they are the successors of the Nazi regime in Germany during the mid-20th century. The fact that these groups still exist at all, and still operate on publicly displayed domains is an insult to the men and women who originally fought to put down such an inhumane group of ideals. These groups are usually taken down very fast, but they still manage to maintain a presence in the online world, often retreating from big media sites that remove them and setting up their own private domains where they are more protected from media scrutiny. If the wrong people begin to influence children with inhumane ideas, then much more harm can be done than an adult who has trouble with politics.

Censorship in the media can often have well-intended means in what it is trying to accomplish but can do more harm in practice if not handled in a balanced way. It can be a tool for peace and keep bad-intentioned people off the online world. Unfortunately, in a world often ruled by money, it can also be a tool for corruption. It is important that we keep hateful ideals and messages away from the young eyes of our society, but we must also ensure that they have access to a wide variety of news sources and information outlets so that they may make their own informed decisions on issues that affect everyone on a day to day basis or on issues that are now being brought to the forefront of politics as they enter the adult world. Should the government step in to help regulate speech online, if so, who would be in charge of what is displayed and what isn’t? Would the problem become worse or better if the government regulated it?

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Should the Government Protect Free Speech in Media
Artscolumbia
Artscolumbia
The ability to share information as well as find it on the internet is one of the great features of the online world, however, false information can become a problem very quickly. Now, while cases of true censorship do not happen often, there are many more cases of incidents where someone posts something controversial and the post is removed for one reason or another. In more extreme cases, users sometimes have their entire account deleted and they are blacklisted from using the site. This has b
2022-01-28 03:13:41
Should the Government Protect Free Speech in Media
$ 13.900 2018-12-31
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