Freedom of Speech on Social Media
Gossiping and discussing have appeared for a long period of time, the only thing that changed is the ways the news spreads. If in the past, the fastest news you could hear was from mouth to mouth as a rumor, then nowadays, you can easily access all sorts of social media platforms to know about the latest news. But because everyone has their freedom of speech, it causes lots of issues about fake news, racism, violence, and hatred on these social media platforms. With the era when human rights are put first, everyone’s freedom of speech becomes more difficult to control.
Last year, Donald Trump becomes one of the people who have been banned from using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. The reason is simply that his speech was not accurate and it started an unwanted protest that harmed many people. Freedom of speech is for everyone but Trump was banned to speak on these platforms was an ironic matter. It would not be bad if social media was used for the right purpose, but in these few years, as the internet outgrow, it is harder to control what people write on the internet. Why would social media become a place where everyone easily expresses themselves to the world? It is because on the internet, we, the users are nobody. This online disinhibition effect is called “dissociative anonymity”. According to John Suler, author of The Psychology of Cyberspace, dissociate anonymity means that the identity on the internet can be anonymous, no one could know who is writing behind the screen and even if the anonymous do something bad on the internet, they would convince themselves that it was not their action, they did not do it (Suler, 2004). So because of these people, social media become a toxic place. A few toxic comments can actually shape public opinion easily, especially if you only listen from one side. A few months ago, an author, a YouTuber I know, Lindsay Ellis has quit being a YouTuber and deleted all of her accounts on social media because of harassment and bullying she received on the internet after on post of her on Twitter about “Raya and the Last Dragon”. She was being harassed on social media platforms to the point that she mentally breakdown because her explanation was not being heard, but backfired her with even more toxic comments.
There are some extends that a person can withstand bullying from social media. But in Lindsay Ellis’ case, it grows out of control just because she writes about her own thought on Disney’s animation movie and cancels culture related. It would not be too toxic if anyone who has an argument with Ellis on her ideas listened to her explanation until the end. Social media is a good place to express your own thought but in Ellis’ case, the opinion that being pleased by people can be eliminated by society.
Freedom of speech on the internet can shape public opinion easily because the human mind is easy to sway. The way that can easily sway a person that involved with personal freedom. If any of the politics violate freedoms, the public would not stand for it. Because of the pandemic, many of the restrictions as well as rules have violated the freedoms that the people usually have, for example, their own choice in vaccination and wearing masks. Recently, the truck convoy has made a big protest in Canada about vaccination and vaccine passports. Most of them make their opinion about how unnecessary the vaccination is since the people who got vaccinated can also have a high chance of getting covid-19 and vaccine passport did not help much in preventing the pandemic. On CBC News around February 19, because of the protester, who have blocked the way on the street and causes many disruption to the neighborhood, the polices have to do their best in order to arrest truckers (CBC News, 2022).
This is a serious matter on social media because the way the protester where trying to delivers where quite convincing. It is hard for anyone who got mental health issue during the pandemic can pass the opportunity to protest against the government and get back their own freedom.
It is more serious when most of them were thinking that anyone who believes in the governments was actually being brainwashed. In the eyes of others who are not protesting, this is the action of selfishness. But to the truck convoy, it was because of their freedom in democracy. During this period of protest, many people took advantage of the opportunity to create fake news that made many people worried. Not only in the countries but fake news can also be possibly created from outside of the country. There are many people who use fake news with fake accounts to stir the politics inside the country, according to CBC News: “A former official in the State Department and Department of Defence under George W. Bush, Kristofer Harrison, said in an interview that Russia uses dummy profiles to promote all sorts of polarizing content across the political spectrum, from Black Lives Matter and defunding the police to white supremacists and yellow-vest protests.” (Panetta, 2022)
Why is freedom of speech more severe and violent in highly democratic countries? Because they value human freedom more than countries that are democratic but control human freedom. Countries where they control the source of information easily gain people’s trust because they believe that the government is always right and for the people. So like in China, free speech is allowed, but sensitive topics will not appear on social networking platforms. Therefore, it is easier for the government to control information, and public opinion will not be easily distorted or changed by an individual or an organization. Countries like the US and Canada place great emphasis on freedom of expression and human rights, so it’s completely normal for leaders to be mocked.
In conclusion, the role of social media nowadays is very important, but anyone who use it need to have sense of responsibility. Because the internet is unpredictable, there are no saying when your word would hurt someone you do not even know. Social media can be toxic most of the time but it is not mean that it was not good. Using social media for expressing your own thought is good but everything that is post on these platforms need to be checked as many time as possible so social media can be come a place where everyone can enjoy and looking for different opinions.
Suler, John. 2004. The Online Disinhibition. Retrieved from: https://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html
Panetta, Alexander. 2022. U.S. Congress asks Facebook: What role did fake overseas accounts have in promoting Canada convoys?. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/congress-convoys-facebook-1.6357381
Mustafa, Filiz. 2022. Why did Lindsay Ellis Quit Youtube? Twitter Explained. Retrieved from: https://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2021/12/28/lindsay-ellis-twitter/
CBC News. 2022. Protesters against COVID-19 measures march in Toronto after gathering at Queen’s Park. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/protest-saturday-toronto-closed-roads-1.6358087