What a toughie this is… WordPress for their Daily Prompt today is speaking about Freedom of Speech and ask this: Facebook has recently come under attack for failing to enforce its own guidelines on hate speech and violent imagery. Is it a website’s job to moderate the content users post, or should users have freedom to say what they want? Is there a happy medium? If so, how would you structure it?
So what is Freedom of Speech? And what rights do I have along with others to cause distress to another person by my writings on either Facebook, WordPress or any site for that matter.
In the UK, we have fought wars to keep our Freedom of Speech…. we don’t face the risk of being interned in jail or a public hanging because we speak out about our Government.. God if they did, I might as well knock on Holloway’s Prison doors and hand myself in and save the taxpayer the money needed for a trial; the amount of times I have called David Cameron dishface and Iain Duncan Smith, Iain (I can’t live on £53 a week) Dopey Sod.
But with Freedom of Speech comes responsibility.. and we all have to learn that there are laws out there that forbid us to libel and defame a person because we don’t like them or to cause racial hatred between people or groups.. or simply because we want to cause as much pain to a person as possible, simply because we don’t like the look of them.
In the United Kingdom we have to abide by Article 10 of the European Court of Human Rights in which it states:
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by a public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent states from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema.
2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for the maintaining of the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
Most people think they have the god given right to say what they want without any repercussions. They think they can libel a family or a person and put their comments down to Freedom of Speech or Expression.
In a ruling dated 21st February 2013, Lord Justice Tugendhat ruled in the High Court on a case where a person thought he had the god given right to say what he wanted about a family and friends of a missing child, Lord Justice Tugendhat ruled in favour of the Claimants and as part of his Judgement he said:
The right to freedom of expression, whether at common law or under Art 10, is not an absolute right that prevails over all others.
Only recently Sally Bercow was in court over a Tweet she made and lost. Again the Claimant won the case and I suppose the next step will be the damages that are to be awarded to the Claimant and then the public will know how much it has cost Sally Bercow to tweet that particular comment…
People should realise that there are laws, and if you run a website.. then it is your duty to abide by those laws… No website owner can delete an offensive or libellous comment immediately.. Nobody can be online 24/7. But as soon as they find the post or receive a report of an inflammatory or libellous post they have a duty to remove it.
Facebook.. unfortunately doesn’t seem to want to adapt any control over their platform… They allow teenagers to have accounts and yet they, at one point, refused to adopt a report it button, that children or even adults could use should they think a child could fall into danger. I don’t use Facebook much.. and as far as I can see there is still no panic button.
Facebook, allows posts that bully people on a memorial site… they allow pages to be created where killers are patronised and they allow pages where violence is shown towards women. They even to this day, allow a page dedicated to a killer, who shot a Policeman in the Face.. A Policeman who took his own life because he could NOT come to terms with his injuries.
I was reading a Post made by Louise Mensch about how disgusted she was about Facebook allowing pages that attack women on Facebook, after she read an article and campaign started by Louise Bates, where Facebook allows attacks on Women.
So Facebook, along, with Twitter, WordPress and every other platform… has to take responsibility for what is hosted on their servers.. They have to set a standard and if that standard is breached then it is simple… delete the blog and offensive comments.. remove them from Google Cache.. And Google… Bing.. Yahoo and all other search engines have to take stock of what they host and the result of their search engines..
I have to give the thumbs up to WordPress.. because from what I have seen, if something is reported they do look into and remove the offending material as soon as they are made aware.. Just wish more sites would adopt this kind of policy.
So how do you Police the internet? I don’t know because each country has different laws that protects Freedom of Speech, but until guidelines and international laws are made that govern the internet worldwide..offensive sites will continue to be created and we are not going to get anywhere.
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