To Censor or Not to Censor

The Internet is filled with all different kinds of content. Whether it be a social media page, a blog or a website there is bound to be racist, offensive and inappropriate content within these pages. According to one of our articles, The Slippery Slope of Facebook Regulation, David Glance recounts a Facebook page controversy in which offensive content is blown so far out of proportion that it is requested to be taken down by policymakers and others of importance. The page ends up being taken down on the grounds that

 

The article also makes the argument that should this post have been taken down? I mean, it is freedom of speech. This is the argument I would like to focus on.

 

I believe this page should not have been taken down. In using other examples, the watchers and users on YouTube, another popular social networking site, can be so rude! The trolls comment on how fat the person in the video they are watching is and comment on how crappy of a singer the person is. YouTube gives you the option to disable your comments just as Facebook gives you the power to block a page. In the case of the article, people who found the page offensive could block it, or simply not visit it. The Internet should be able to be used freely just as people are allowed to express their feelings and beliefs in public.

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At the same time, I can also see where the article is coming from, according to our civil rights, our constitution defines a hate crime as “a traditional offense like murder, arson or vandalism with an added element of bias” or “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.”

 

Therefore, is our Internet behavior parallel to that of our face-to-face daily lives? Are our norms the same in both realities? According to Karl Allen Whemhoener who wrote a graduate thesis on this topic, believes it is the norms of our society that make this determination so difficult. The Internet is too new, and our constitution far too old to understand the norms of each.

 Do we want our free Internet to be bombarded by regulations galore? I surely don’t wish for this. The internet is made up of all independent

networks plugged in to this free space, and based on that foundation has people interacting in public forums about certain topics that can make people uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean they have to take part in these discussions. Everyone shares their beliefs online is it really that big of a crime? However, making it’s own regulation up to the company, website or hosts discretion does seem like a fair trade. After all, what is a world without some rules?

 Basically, the point I am trying to make is that even though there are crimes in the real world that are considered illegal and offensive, but most involve defacing private property and belongings. Is writing something foul on the Internet considered vandalizing the offended persons belongings? Especially when NO ONE owns the Internet. When I hear Internet, I hear “let freedom ring.”

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4 Responses to To Censor or Not to Censor

  1. emedrano9 says:

    You know, after being purchased by Google, Youtube went through a brief, awkward transition trying to blanket censor comment content. If I were to type in “this video is shit”, it would come out as “this video is ****.” Fortunately, they rely more on the lazier, but more effective method of relying on user regulation. After all it’s call YOUtube.
    The top comment can now be someone cleverly bashing the user for having an awful video, making fun of Christian beliefs or black people, or something similarly offensive. And as long as enough people ‘like‘ it, it’ll be the first thing you see when you open the video link (besides a Honda Commercial).
    It’s interesting because unlike television where whatever is shown must be approved beforehand and only a select few have access to broadcast, the internet is so accessible that there’s just about everything one can imagine. It’s easy to get lost in it. I find that when I spend time away from the internet, I notice things I didn’t notice before- birds singing, dew on grass, stop signs. It’s nice not to be plugged in for a few hours.
    But yeah, I agree for the most part of what you’re saying. The internet is so vast it would be quite a task to regulate it, and because computers aren’t truly capably of interpretation, a lot of stuff would get lost in the mix. Besides, people are so computer savvy someone will figure out a way around any firewall and tell their friends how cool they are. I do feel that a lot of what I believe has to do with my age and status though. Maybe when I get older and have a kid my views will change and be in favor of more regulation, so I can’t really demonize those that are. I guess we’ll see what happens. As the internet continues to grow and evolve, it only makes sense for the laws guiding them to do so as well.
    Good stuff Ashleigh.

  2. I’m really not a fan of crying “free speech!” when it comes to Facebook and other services. Facebook is free to censor whatever however whenever it wants. The government on the otherhand is not allowed to force Facebook to sensor.

    To put it another way, you’re free to wear a “Fuck the Draft” jacket in public (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cohen_v._California) but when you walk into a private business the staff is in their right to tell you to take it off or get out.

    Does it suck that Facebook takes down images/posts and what not based on little to no reason? Sure it is. But it’s not a crime against our inalienable human rights.

  3. dcrase712 says:

    Like many others, I feel like social media sites such as facebook, youtube, and twitter have every right to censor user’s posts. You stated in your post that the user who doesn’t want to see something can just block the page or delete the posts, but that is not always possible. There has been many occasions in which I see a post I dislike shared, liked, commented on, or tagged. No matter what I do I can’t seem to get away from all the hate. We spoke in class about how people often limit the posts they see to only reflect the same views and opinions as their own. I feel that once you have set your own personal morals and standards, you have every right to avoid things that go against your beliefs. While I am open to different opinions myself, I have witnessed people get extremely upset by things they see online. Companies like facebook and youtube do have the right to remove posts because they are private organizations. Companies such as these are always looking for a way in which to please their customers. Working in retail you find that you cannot just wear whatever you feel like. There is always the possibility of offending people, so companies place rules to help control this. The same rules apply to online sites. Without regulation, the internet would become flooded with more and more hate.

  4. brittlemoon says:

    You bring up a good point. I have never really thought of hurtful or hate filled messages and comments on the internet as vandalism and/or hate crimes. It makes some sense though. If you look at all of these comments they are all usually attacking the person for being different or for trying something different. Given the vast majorities of these are trolls or people who will say anything to anyone on the internet. And even though people are writing these things on walls or videos for everyone to see I wouldn’t go as far to call it vandalism. To me it just seems like basic insults and name callings.

    As far as regulating these, I see no reason why these people wouldn’t have the right to say hurtful things to other people on the internet. People say cruel things to people’s faces all the time and we allow it. And with a lot of sites the uploader can easily delete or hide these messages if they choose to do so. But with that being said certain websites are aimed at certain demographics or want to represent certain family values. So if someone went on a website that is aimed towards a younger demographic and started posting links to inappropriate sites or using foul language the moderators of that website should also have every right to say they don’t want that kind of material on their sites and delete it. For example if I go into an elementary school and put up a poster that had nothing but dirty words on it, I would expect the school to take it down and throw it away.

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