Daniel Halliday
Aug 26, 2018 · Last update 9 mo. ago.

Should online companies protect free speech or censor content that they deem inappropriate?

In an era of fake news and social media should the internet be a place of free speech, or do companies such as Google, Youtube, and Facebook have the right to self-censor and regulate content like a traditional media outlet would?
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Censorship, coercion and extortion will run rampant online if Net neutrality isn’t protected
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Freedom of speech and a company's right to regulate their service both need to be protected
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The internet reaches too many vulnerable people to be completely open to free speech
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We should strive to preserve freedom of speech in every avenue of life, especially online
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Censorship, coercion and extortion will run rampant online if Net neutrality isn’t protected

All data is created equal, but in some countries Internet Service Providers (ISP) are arguing that the equality of data stops them from providing a range of services based on boosting certain traffic, therefore stifling competition. Net neutrality is the idea that all traffic on the internet should be handled in the same way and no control over speeds should be exercised by ISPs in order to prioritise services to higher paying customers, in the name of fairness and open access. ISP competition is scarce in countries such as the United States, and ISPs and the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have argued that network infrastructure is suffering as a result. They argue that removing Net neutrality will spark more competition and allow network coverage and infrastructure to expand by incentivising certain services, thus allowing ISPs to provide both better and cheaper options to customers, making the ISP’s role more flexible.

However in the European Union strict rules govern internet services stating ISP must treat all traffic equally, preserving Net neutrality. Net neutrality needs to be preserved so that the conversation on censorship remains one between customers and online companies, if ISPs are allowed to restrict or block content too, this debate will become overwhelming complex. Customers may also be actively coerced into using certain sites or online services, making the biggest internet corporations such as Facebook and Google even more powerful, and customers may even be extorted by ISPs limiting certain useful content unless the customer pays an extra premium.

huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/net-neutrality-will-it-affect-us-in-the-uk_uk_5a33a67be4b0ff955ad1d6a6 intelligencesquaredus.org/debates/preserve-net-neutrality-all-data-created-equal

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 12
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DH edited this paragraph
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/net-neutrality-will-it-affect-us-in-the-uk_uk_5a33a67be4b0ff955ad1d6a6 https://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/debates/preserve-net-neutrality-all-data-created-equal

Freedom of speech and a company's right to regulate their service both need to be protected

The power of the internet is unprecedented, and we should not fall down at the first hurdle in the infancy of its use. Inevitably companies based on the internet have the legal right to censor their content however they see fit, but time will tell if users will still want to utilise heavily or badly regulated services. Optional censorship may be the way to go in order to preserve free speech, while regulating content by giving heavy warnings or possibly additional age verification checks to protect children. In this process censorship can be used in a case by case, user regulated way, with the option of a removal mechanism in order to place the choice in the user's hands, while making it explicitly clear as to what they are about to see.

The large online companies are swamped with content to filter, with 500 hours of youtube videos, 450,000 tweets and 2.5million facebook posts being uploaded every minute. Facebook, overwhelmed with the massive amount of content violations on its platform, currently contracts much moderation of content to third party companies. One such company was TaskUs a content moderation service based in Manila. Big cultural and exploitation questions remain however, with workers often being young school leavers, making less than $500 a month and more likely to be from a conservative Catholic background, considering the company is based in the Philippines.

However there are some alternatives to dealing with the issues of extreme content and fake news that do not involve censorship, and they are proving to be quite effective. Following several stories of mob violence involving lynching in India the popular messaging app Whatsapp began limiting forwarding capabilities instead of attempting to censor content directly. This method showed significant improvement on forwarded messages in India, is thought to stop fake news stories from getting out of control and has subsequently been rolled out universally by Whatsapp. Companies are within their rights to address issues like this, and over time will probably develop more sophisticated ways, as to not dissuade customers from using their platform by directly censoring contents.

wired.com/2014/10/content-moderation vice.com/en_us/article/ywe7gb/the-companies-cleaning-the-deepest-darkest-parts-of-social-media cnet.com/news/whatsapp-limits-message-forwarding-to-fight-fake-news

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 2
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DH edited this paragraph
https://www.wired.com/2014/10/content-moderation/ https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ywe7gb/the-companies-cleaning-the-deepest-darkest-parts-of-social-media https://www.cnet.com/news/whatsapp-limits-message-forwarding-to-fight-fake-news/

The internet reaches too many vulnerable people to be completely open to free speech

Online freedom of speech is a nice idea, but the internet is too pervasive, and has become too wide spread to be left completely unregulated. The internet is now heavily integrated in the daily lives of around half of the planet (over 4 billion individual daily users). Regulation of some kind seems especially important when considering a large proportion of these users will be children with unlimited access. In addition, considering the number of users with mental health problems or instabilities, and the rise in terrorism, radicalisation and/or politically or racially motivated attacks, it could be argued that there have already been negative effects of a fairly open free speech policy online.

When discussing censorship online it is important to remember that the vast amount of censored content is of a violent or sexual nature, almost all of it of no political, social or general significance. The majority of filtered content is therefore removed to protect vulnerable and even average users from extreme violent or sexual content, and filtering companies are given strict instruction to leave politically relevant violent content online with a violence warning. Many people that argue for complete freedom of speech online have probably not considered that with a complete lack of regulation a huge amount of horrific traffic accidents, animal mutilation, and child sex abuse that gets uploaded could be shared on social media for anyone to see.

Fake news is another issue that many governments are putting effort into trying to regulate. Fake news may be a symptom of media failure in some parts of the world, but it others it has led to vigilante groups carrying out murders as a form of misplaced justice. Multiple cases of lynching and crowds battering unknown innocents to death have happened frequently in India, and fake news utilising grotesque images is destabilising and fuelling ethnic tensions in countries such as Nigeria. If some measures are not put in place to deal with this innocent people will continue to be killed and the internet will prove to be a negative force in some parts of the world. Some form of regulation needs to be in place to protect vulnerable people and societies at large from extreme content and the consequences of its existence online.

wearesocial.com/blog/2018/01/global-digital-report-2018 academia.edu/8984657/The_Reason_Why_Censorship_of_the_Internet_is_Necessary wired.com/story/how-whatsapp-fuels-fake-news-and-violence-in-india bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/nigeria_fake_news

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 2
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DH edited this paragraph
Online freedom of speech is a nice idea, but the internet is too pervasive, and has become too wide spread to be left completely unregulated. The internet is now heavily integrated in the daily lives of around half of the planet (over 4 billion individual daily users). Regulation of some kind seems especially important when considering a large proportion of these users will be children with unlimited access. In addition, considering the number of users with mental health problems or instabilities, and the rise in terrorism, radicalisation and/or politically or racially motivated attacks, it could be argued that there have already been negative effects of a fairly open free speech policy online.

We should strive to preserve freedom of speech in every avenue of life, especially online

The internet is an extremely important tool that is revolutionising communication worldwide, but it is only revolutionary as a free speech communication tool. If we censor or in any way alter free speech online, there will inevitably be consequences on its usefulness in spreading important information. Companies are already effectively censoring content, and this censorship has already gone too far in limiting the much needed free speech of certain regions. We can see from examples such as Youtube removing videos showing conditions in Palestine, following a request from the Israeli government, that these companies have an ideological agenda and their services are no longer tools for open communication.

The internet and the services on it have become too big to properly censor anyway, with some of the biggest companies outsourcing censoring extreme, abusive or unwanted content to private third parties. These private companies, the majority situated in the Philippines, pay next to nothing for rooms of people to moderate millions of images and pieces of content. This leads to the censoring of content in any way the worker sees fit, but as it is in the hands of people being pay $2 an hour to quickly judge thousands of bits of content a day without context or time to consider, dependencies regularly occur. The whole system fails to address the issue in any kind of effective way.

The internet has revolutionised the dissemination of information for the better. Services such as wikileaks.org, ipaidabribe.com, youtube and various social media networks have enabled more people to be informed and inform others of societal corruption than ever before. Censorship threatens not only users right to free speech but makes corruption more viable, undermines democracy and is a step towards totalitarianism.

listennotes.com/podcasts/radiolab/post-no-evil--TZrHpK3uQF

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 1
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DH edited this paragraph
https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/radiolab/post-no-evil--TZrHpK3uQF/
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