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Tags Current Affairs

Complications in regulating speech

Date: 06 September 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Facebook is coming under scrutiny for the way it regulates speech. The complaints include political partisanship, not being attentive enough to hate speech and fake news, opaque algorithms, inadequate privacy controls.

 

Background

These complaints take on an even sharper edge when there is a perception that key functionaries of Facebook might have views that blatantly support a political party.

 

Details

  • While the stated political partisanship of Facebook officials is coming under scrutiny, the irony is that the manifest political partisanship of public officials is going unchallenged.

  • We must worry about the fact that we are giving private companies authority to potentially censor or redirect the speech of elected officials.

  • Freedom of expression is easy to institutionalise when speech is, as it were, safe. Where it leads to incitement, violence, attacks on group identity, or awful forms of subordination, people’s convictions about defending free speech fade.

  • Facebook invites attention because of its great power, which needs to be regulated. But it is not clear that lots of competition is going to solve concerns about partisanship and censorship in social media.

  • Resisting Facebook’s power will require a more radical withdrawal from logic of profit that blurs the boundary between public and private, without which no freedom and civility is possible.

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