Freedom of speech in a democratic world is a crucial feature of society. With the advancement in technology, the way information is generated and disseminated has drastically changed. This follows the powerful influence social media has gained on online presence. Social media refers to the use of web and mobile-based technology to aid in interactive content. These ideas can be user-developed and then promoted by the public to new platforms and audiences. Social networking sites have had a significant impact on the world as a single message can be conveyed to millions of people within a few minutes. This mass sharing of information presents several dangers, such as harassment, divisive content, terrorism, and acts of racism requiring urgent and immediate regulation. This paper will discuss why free speech on social media should be regulated.
The broadcasting of factual and truthful information is one of the pillars of a contemporary community. This has not been easy to achieve in society due to the anonymity of internet posting. Unverified information is widely spread over the internet, which causes more harm to the people. In addition, vital information gets in the hands of the wrong people, and the consequences are damaging. This was witnessed during the pandemic’s tough times, where misinformation about COVID-19 was evident during the first phase. Social media had occupied a significant role in sharing information related to the pandemic that saw misleading reporting about the epidemic (Niemiec, 2020). People always rely on their minds and words filled with positive or negative emotions that drive inaccurate information. There is a need to counter this misinformation that is achieved through regulating and monitoring how freely people are expressing themselves in the online space.
The lack of regulation for free speech on social media has increased the amount of hate speech directed at various users. Though there are rules about hate speech via the internet, the phenomenon has been more popular in the past years. Social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, have made it easy to attack other users. Individuals with less free will and reasoning ability are likely to respond with hate messages to others. Hate speech is contagious, and any person registered on these platforms is vulnerable as one’s ideas and beliefs can be attacked by the public. Political leaders across the world are exploiting online free speech to spread hate to diverse groups of people. There is no censorship in what they convey to their followers, which is the root of many social problems to different political classes. Because everyone is free to express themselves via the internet, there is a high chance of spreading hateful information to other people. This needs to be regulated and the interactions watched because rationality is the true freedom of online users.
There is rapid growth in online bullying, trolling, and threats from users. In the 21st century, social media platforms have been filled with trolls and people openly bullied (Gibson, 2019). Many people have been abused and bullied on social media due to free speech on online topics, such as celebrities and leaders. Young people are exposed to cyberbullying, allowing them to shame and share hurtful messages with others. Although online cyberbullying leaves a digital footprint, there is a need to protect it before it happens. Like the old media, where journalistic standards were keenly followed without fail, free speech on social media requires a strict ethical standard where everyone is accountable for the information shared. By controlling the freedom of expression in online interactions, a secure world is initiated free from social bullying.
The ability to express freely on social media has supported terrorist activities and data breaches. Terrorism has been one of the most concerning issues across the world for years. People have lost lives and properties destroyed due to terror attacks in different countries. Through social media platforms and the right to engage freely, there is an interplay between locally grown and international terrorists (Ricknell, 2020). They use these platforms to recruit, train and communicate with their followers and supporters, making it easy to execute their plans. The government can not such conversations and online threads related to terror activities and act immediately. Placing rules and limiting free expression through online spaces helps curb the increasing terrorism activities and secure the world.
In conclusion, the public sphere has been transformed by social media in modern society. This has changed how information is shared by connecting people across the globe and making it easy to interact. Free speech on social media has created surfaces for bad actors and platforms for breeding hate. There is no strict regulation on what is said and shared through these online avenues. This freedom aids in misinformation spread, encouragement of terrorism activities, online harassment and bullying, personal data being stolen, and dissent being suppressed, questioning the ability of online free speech. Free online expression is associated with wrong and hateful information that brews violence among people in society. Therefore, an end must be placed to unregulated free speech on social media across the world.
Gibson, A. (2019). Free speech and safe spaces: How moderation policies shape online discussion spaces. Social Media and Society, 5(1), 205630511983258. Web.
Niemiec, E. (2020). COVID-19 and misinformation: Is censorship of social media a remedy to the spread of medical misinformation? EMBO Reports, 21(11), e51420-e51420. Web.
Ricknell, E. (2020). Freedom of expression and alternatives for internet governance: Prospects and pitfalls. Media and Communication (Lisboa), 8(4S1), 110-120. Web.