Social Media: Is Freedom of Speech Just An Excuse For Bullying and Cyber-Attacking?

By Emily Reed – Fashion PR student

Advanced warning: This content contains some hard to read issues and content that some people will find disturbing. The following blog post is not a provocative piece of writing, it is simply an issue that i’ve come across and interests me.

Is Social Media advocating violence against women?  This is a very delicate subject and one that I have been completely shocked and disgusted by whilst researching. I’ll be honest I knew there were problems with the growth of cyber-bullying but i was totally naive to the extent some of these cases go to.

Social Media leaves us all vulnerable to cyber stalking and bullying. But I bet nobody ever dreamt the increase in Social Media channels would open so many doors to cases of revenge porn, threats, shockingly unimaginable cases of hate crimes, sexist comments and unbearable footage of rape. I did say it wasn’t going to be an easy read. Yes these things are happening and they’re happening right now and worst of all they’re being shared across Social Media and gaining support from other sick individuals.

For some reason a few people have decided to use Social Media as their platforms for executing such disgusting acts of violence, and many of them against women. A study revealed 90% of cases of revenge porn are against women.

I don’t want to go in to detail about each individual case that i’ve been researching because they are too awful, but just to give you an idea of some of the names of pages that have actually existed on Facebook and frighteningly gained many followers; ‘Domestic Violence: Don’t Make Me Tell You Twice’ and ‘I Love The RapeVan’.

It has been known that Facebook have allowed some of these terrible violent acts to be kept on the Social Media platform under the category ‘Controversial Humour’, even after being reported countless times, yet as soon as someone reports a case of copyright or Intellectual Property misconduct the content under questioned is removed straight away. Does Facebook need to reevaluate their ethical standings or it is a case of simply not being equipped to handle the unfortunate boom of this destructive behaviour?

A spokesperson for Facebook even admitted that they try to respond to complaints within 72 hours but “it’s not easy to keep up with requests”.

So where does the line between freedom of speech and dangerous hate campaigns blur and can Social Media channels keep up and control this mass issue? What can Social Media channels do in this ever-increasingly saturated digital world where anyone can say or upload anything they want? Is there even an answer?

 

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