Who is responsible for speech?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

I would like to point out that I actually do not have anything against people with green eyes. If you don't get sarcasm, I'm very sorry for you

So, Trump got kicked out of Twitter. Ha, sucker! Not the only social media platform he got kicked out of, but I don’t have Facebook and I’ve blocked his Snapchat account months ago. It’s not like he does anything but post screenshots of his tweets there anyway. But yes, finally, Trump is out of Twitter and it is hilarious. Good on Twitter. I’m happy they did that.

But then again, I’m not. It’s way overdue They should’ve banned him years ago. I’m sure that if it wasn’t for what happened on Wednesday, he’d still be there spewing bullshit about Dominion. Twitter, nor any other social media, is the hero here. Kind of like Mike Pence isn’t either, although some people think he is. Ignoring hate speech and enabling it for years is still, if not a crime, a shitty thing to do. Suddenly stopping it doesn’t make you responsible.

This raises new questions about freedom of speech and the responsibility of social media. On the other hand, social media is great. Anyone can have their voice heard there. If I’m pissed about something, I can post about it online and it’s out there. It’s a great way for me to talk to political leaders or businesses if I feel like it. Social media brings people together, whether it’s people who think alike or not. It’s an open platform for everyone to talk about whatever they want. I’m sure that if social media was taken away from us, we’d feel like there is no freedom of speech in our world.

I like to think that there are two versions of you. Me. Anyone. There is the real us. I’m here, typing this on my laptop, in my apartment. I have my family and friends here, in real life. I have my day-to-day life where I go to school, eat, sleep, meet people. But at the same time there is the online me. It’s still me, writing this and posting it online, me liking someone’s tweet or sending a snap to my friends. It’s still me sending an email to a teacher or buying things online. But at the same time, it’s not. I’m not anything physical online. I’m not a bunch of cells and zigzag of thoughts. I’m merely data that’s the outcome of my real life self.

Then again, those two versions of me aren’t two different people. They overlap. Those are just two sides of me and there are more to those two sides than just two. There are different versions of me in real life. When I’m alone, when I’m with family, with friends or other friends. I act different around different people. Same goes online. What I write here can be a lot different from how I interact in LinkedIn or Twitter, but those are still parts of the same me. These all overlap and especially in a world where we’re constantly online, it’s hard to separate these.

This is where I want to ask the question about social media’s responsibility. Let’s say I wrote here that we should all get out there and kill everyone with green eyes because people with green eyes are here to destroy our world. That’s me saying that. It’s the real life me thinking that thought and me writing it here. But I’m writing this in an online platform, so it’s not really the physical me. You can’t really prove this. And if it is, I’m writing it here, on Booksie. Who is responsible if in three days, around the world millions of people with green eyes are suddenly targeted and murdered? Is it me, is it my account or is it this platform? Or is it the people who murdered green-eyed people?

It’s all of them. Me, because I never should have thought that. If I did think that way, I should’ve kept those thoughts to myself. Now, is it my account? Yes. Okay, that’s most likely me, but someone could’ve used my email and password instead of me. I might not have any idea someone is posting this under my name. Booksie asks me if I’ve written this and if I have the rights to it before I upload this. Of course I could track this text down to my IP address (or someone who is better with computers could) and if it was shady, I could probably change my password and delete this, making sure no one has committed an identity theft. Then the question about Booksie’s responsibility. No, it’s not their fault I posted this. But let’s say you guys reported this, made it known I’m writing hateful content and Booksie let this stay out there, then yes. It’s their fault too. If you, in a few days go out and murder someone because of this, you can blame me. I told you to do that. Of course that’s a shitty excuse because I’m just a random girl writing things online. I doubt any judge would not blame you. Each individual is responsible for their own actions. It’s not like I have the authority to tell anyone to murder anyone. You’re acting on your accord, even if I encouraged you to do what you did.

Freedom of speech is great, but with it comes responsibility. I can voice my opinion but I’m also responsible for it and I have to accept the consequences of my words. To some extent. I can say that I prefer cats over dogs and someone can beat me up for it, but it’s not like that’s my fault. The person who beat me up over it is to blame, because that’s not an opinion that hurts anyone. But if I say that green-eyed people are shit on earth and I’m going to kill them, someone has the grounds to suspect me of the next murder of a person like that. If green-eyed people suddenly start being murdered, I’m inciting people to commit hate crimes. Especially if I were a person with some kind of authority; a politician, CEO, celebrity, I’d definitely expect the police at my door. This might seem unfair too, but authority comes with responsibility as well.

So yes, social media restricting freedom of speech of people who commit hate speech crimes is completely acceptable. It’s expected, too. If you disagree, go back and read the terms of conditions of that platform. If they say they don’t tolerate that kind of speech and you’ve agreed, they have every right to ban you. If you still think it’s unfair, compare the terms and conditions to laws of a country. By being in a country, you’re technically signing their legislation and accepting that if you commit any crime, you’re going to be punished. Of course most of us don’t read every country’s laws on the place when we travel, but I’m going to take a wild guess most people don’t read the terms and conditions of every social media platform they’re on either. But you can guess. Murdering someone or stealing are pretty universal crimes. I’m sure most countries consider those illegal. I’m also quite sure most social media platforms ban hateful speech and inciting violence against others.


Submitted: January 09, 2021

© Copyright 2021 helmu. All rights reserved.

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Comments

moa rider

I have vaguely green eyes Ms. Bantam, but I don't have and social media accounts. I'm just not interested enough. I've seen people taking a photo of their meal and posting it online - meh. All freedoms come with some reponsibility because freedoms are given and sometimes paid for by the rest of society. If you go somewhere where there are no freedoms you'll understand. Sure it's great to value and defend freedoms but not so great to abuse them. However how you censor or police what's acceptable without accusations of the infringement of freedoms, I don't know. Usianguke

Sat, January 9th, 2021 8:39pm

88 fingers

I have one thing in common with Trump. I got banned from Twitter back in March because I used the word "choke" to describe a sports team losing a game. In the US, that's a term we use. But Twitter didn't see it that way. But I don't miss not being on Twitter.
Freedom of speech is a basic fundamental right for humans all around the world.
You can say that all green eyed people should be killed. But, if someone goes and kills those with green eyes, is that your fault?
I say no. I think it's that person who takes your words seriously. That person might not be of sound mind.
Say what you want, it's up to the listener who has to decide if it's parody, comedy, or just someone spewing their opinions.
If they act on it with violence, it's on their shoulders.

Sat, January 9th, 2021 11:54pm

Author
Reply

Yeah, I've gotten banned for 12 hours too, not that I really remember what for. But you're right, different words and languages create a problem when it's an international platform. Something I say in English might easily be misunderstood because it's not my native language and I can easily fuck up some saying and cause it to mean something else I actually meant.

I disagree with you on that one, actually. Or I don't know, maybe me saying something hateful isn't a crime, per se, but if someone acts on my sayings and it causes someone to die, I'd probably feel like shit. I personally would feel at fault, although you're right, no one is forcing anyone to do as I say. And maybe we think differently because you live in the US. Europeans in general and EU as a legal body have stricter hate speech laws than you do. It's understandable, in my opinion, because we've seen what hate speech leads to, in history. That's why especially people with authority shouldn't be allowed to say what they want. I don't know if American's have the saying but we tend to use the argument that "freedom of speech doesn't cover hate speech". All freedoms and rights come with responsibility. But then again, Finnish legislation is based more on negative freedoms, while US's is on positive freedoms. I suppose those shape how we see these things.

Sun, January 10th, 2021 10:39pm

Craig Davison

This is a very poignant and interesting article. There has been a recent outbreak of racial vilification here in Australia. Australian spectators vilified Indian cricketers at the Sydney Cricket Ground and were subsequently ejected from the ground by police. Good! Cricket is a game that is a bit difficult to explain to someone from Finland. I could be wrong.
A few years ago an indigenous footballer, Adam Goodes, had a fourteen year old girl evicted from a football ground for calling him an ape. His career was subsequently destroyed by spectators who booed him relentlessly. Australian Rules football is even harder to explain than cricket.
I don’t understand racism, but Australia has a terrible reputation for prejudice and racism. We are not all like that. I like your metaphor of the green eyes. Anyway, I’m sure you know little about Australia, and all I know about Finland is that the capital is Helsinki, your most famous composer is Jean Sibelius (I heard the Karelia Suite on the radio last week) and that Aki Kaurismäki made Leningrad Cowboys Go America.

Mon, January 11th, 2021 4:24am

Author
Reply

I know cricket, not that I can play it, but I know the main idea. And yeah, most of my knowledge of Australia is from TV or some relatives I have there. I know you've had issues with racism in the past, I'm pretty sure that's something every kid on earth has to learn in history class. But then again, Finland has treated our indigenous peoples horribly as well. It seems that racism and antisemitism are on the rise everywhere in the West. I claim that one reason is populism, but obviously there are more.
I'm glad that you know Sibelius, although I would dare say Darude is more famous than him. Not that many Finns know more than one piece from Sibelius. Kaurismäki is someone I've never really understood, his movies are outright weird, but maybe I'm too young for them and my generation doesn't really get him. But I get that they're a huge part of our movie culture. He's technically the Stanley Kubric of Finland

Sun, January 10th, 2021 10:22pm

Bert Broomberg

Good essay. I think freedom of speech is not something that should be actively policed, by anyone. In my opinion, venting an opinion comes with the moral duty to think about the actual wording you are using. Speak as you want to be spoken to, could be a good guideline. Inciting to commit crimes has nothing to do with freedom of speech, and yes, there will always be grey areas, as is the case in all human activity, and there will always remain conflicts. That is all part of the human condition.
One of the most important things people who seek to communicate by means of whatever type of medium should realize, is that words have meaning and consequences; both foreseen and unforseen consequences. That makes it necessary to think about your words. It is something writers should always do.
I enjoyed reading your essay.

Tue, January 12th, 2021 3:23pm

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