The idea of having the freedom to express yourself as you please is an interesting one. Many of us take this to mean that we can say what we want, to whomever we want, in any way we want to. This is even more evident on social media.
Honestly, I don't think we are to blame for assuming this. In most countries constitutions the concept of freedom of expression is granted as a constitutional right. It goes further than that, even the United Nations declared freedom of expression as a fundamental human right.
However, I've come to learn over the years that it is not as simple as saying whatever you want, whenever you want, even on social media. There are legal implications to everything you say.
Some people that are learning this rather surprisingly are those whose accounts were suspended on Twitter and they decided to join the largely right-wing social network, Parler, which promised them unfiltered freedom of expression. It didn't take long though for Parler itself to start suspending some accounts.
These suspensions are interesting considering that Parler has sold itself as a social network that embraces freedom of speech and has minimal moderation. As its founder, John Matze, once famously said: “If you can say it on the street of New York, you can say it on Parler.”
However, the reality is that Parler is no different to any other social network as far as content moderation goes, because like I have had to learn over the years, you have the freedom to express yourself (even on social media) as long as that expression doesn't violate another person's rights. In other words, you have freedom of expression, but freedom after the expression is not guaranteed.
Things got to the extent that Parler's founder had to write a letter to its 1,5 million users explaining that, to paraphrase, free speech is not free.
This is where I have a cognitive dissonance of sorts.
I believe in everybody having the right to express themselves even if I disagree with them. But, given how social media has become nowadays with spam, fake news, and hate speech, I sometimes find myself such expressions should be banned. At the same time, on the other hand, I worry about us giving too much power to social networks to suspend, censor, and shape narratives.
Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
What are your thoughts?
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Amid claims of social media platforms stifling free speech, a new challenger called Parler is drawing attention for its anti-censorship stance. Here’s what you need to know about the largely right-wing social media platform creeping into headlines, Parler.
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Quote of the day
You have the freedom to express yourself (even on social media) as long as that expression doesn't violate another person's rights. In other words, you have freedom of expression, but freedom after the expression is not guaranteed. (Tweet this)
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