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Unconditionally free speech can no longer exist in our world

Unconditionally free speech can no longer exist in our world

Unconditionally free speech can no longer exist in our world
November 08
12:00 2018

The premise of social media website Gab is easy enough to understand: Free speech for all, regardless of opinions or political views. After major social media sites Facebook and Twitter began to receive pressure from the government to police hate speech on their platforms, Gab swooped in and advocated itself as a haven for those who believed in truly free speech.

Gab’s users thought of it as a necessary website to exist in a time when free speech has become censored. Due to the website’s stance as an upholder of free speech, it attracted the “alt-right” (a white nationalist movement), who comprised most of its userbase.

Though the website was originally meant to be open to anyone, Gab’s then-Chief Operating Officer Utsav Sanduja admitted in an interview with VICE that most of the users being “alt-right” was because the group’s free speech has been the most infringed upon.

Sanduja insisted Gab would grow to be something big and gain the negative attention of “left-leaning governments” in the future. However, after the recent Pittsburgh synagogue shooting — which followed anti-Semitic messages posted to Gab by the shooter — Gab was dropped by its web service provider, kicking the site offline for about a week until a new provider agreed to host it.

Gab isn’t solely to blame here. Though Gab’s dedication to free, uncensored speech for all is simple enough to get behind, it is taken advantage of by those whose opinions represent the worst, most hateful side of humanity.

Suddenly, a seemingly innocent idea becomes a haven for hostility and grows a reputation of its own — this is not unlike the trajectory of the deep web. What started as an alternative for those who disliked a government-tracked and monitored internet landscape has now become more commonly labeled as “the dark web” to inspire Creepypastas and scare old people into buying virus protection services.

My issue lies with those who take advantage of free speech. With political debates turning more turbulent by the day, we need more platforms open for discussion — conversations that do not include name-calling or aggressive vocabulary. But there is a certain anonymity that comes with social media that makes people comfortable enough to express more brash opinions than they would voice in a real-life public space.

Social media has more recently opened a gateway for people to promote and act on violent extremism from both sides of the spectrum. Robert Bowers, the man responsible for the attack on the Pittsburgh synagogue, felt comfortable enough on social media to voice his hate toward specific groups of people and threaten them before eventually acting on it. Though his posts raised enough red flags on their own, nothing was done until it was too late.

The Government Accountability Office credits right-wing extremists as the most responsible for domestic terrorism. Social media has made it easier to express our hate for one another, but the crowded landscape makes it difficult to find the real threats when trolls can hide behind them claiming it as dark humor. Public platforms cannot be without regulation because those with ill intent and a desire to harm are mixed in among the masses.

It has become apparent absolute freedom cannot come without chaos. A world without ethics or common regulation invites anarchy. Unless the world was filled with bright-eyed, completely innocent beings, we cannot live in peace and safety without some form of regulation.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

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Christina Palomo

Christina Palomo

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1 Comment

  1. Ducky
    Ducky January 17, 18:37

    Obviously hates freedom of speech. Another hot garbage article from these guys.

    Reply to this comment

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