Literacy and Liberty

Investigative Project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 5:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

The internet has completely transformed communication. Ideas can be expressed, spread, and accessed on a global scale, instantaneously. This has allowed for the development of an interconnected and informed global mass. However this is not an inherently good thing, as social networks and internet forums, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, are discovering. By necessity, some opinions that will be spread on these networks will be perceived as “disagreeable” or even dangerous. “Fake news”, conspiracies, hate speech, calls for violence, and other content which are considered by many to be toxic and divisive, pose a problem for platform providers. In many cases, these platforms choose to address the problem by censoring such content and silencing the voices that spread it.

Unfortunately, it is not always clear what constitutes hateful or extreme rhetoric. The result of this is that many users which simply seek to promote alternative perspectives are being cast in the same lot as those who produce far more radical content. When measures normally intended to stifle extremists are applied to more moderate voices, it is perceived by affected persons and their followers as constituting biased political attacks on their right to free-speech and their ability to participate in the free-market of ideas. This runs counter to the ideals of inclusivity many such internet platforms are based on.

In light of this, we must ask ourselves difficult questions such as, what is free-speech, what constitutes “intolerable” rhetoric, and how far do the protections of the First Amendment go?


3 Comments so far
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This is something that has been a huge concern for me and I feel safe in saying that goes for most of us. Our lives are so internet-centric and now what we are interacting with is being called into question. I am super excited to see what you find out. Good luck!

   Logan Cort 11.08.18 @ 11:55 am

Joe, I’m with Logan: this is a key topic. Now, you have a range of concerns / phenomena / situations circling though your blog post: the internet, hate speech, and free speech seem chief among them (yes?). For now, I wonder if you might start free writing about how, just in thinking about this project, you went so seamlessly from questions about hateful speech to the scope of free speech. I’m pretty sure the answers won’t be as obvious as you might assume…

   Professor Seiler 11.11.18 @ 5:39 pm

Hi Joe,

Free speech is a topic i think about a lot.
one thing-
You mentioned that one of the problems of SM is that it gives a platform to harmful voices. Well, it also gives a voice to and inspires and rapidly spreads social justice movements.

   Talya A Lubit 11.12.18 @ 3:27 pm

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