It has been reported that in 2019 over 4 billion people use the Internet every day, and with every person having freedom of speech on it how they chose to use it can be very different. Many people chose to use their free speech to spread love, share inspiring stories and connect with people, but other people chose to use their speech very differently and decide to spread hate, bully and discriminate, especially in recent years. This essay will discuss the different sides to free speech on the Internet, how it can allow many positive things to happen, but it can also allow many negative things such as hate speech. This subject is a topical because it connects to what is happening in the world today as the Internet is such a big part of people lives.
Firstly, a positive side to freedom of speech is the #Metoo movement. This is a movement created to go against sexual harassment and sexual violence the hashtag Metoo was created to allow and help victims speak out, and it quickly became popular as it was used more than 4.7 million times in the first 24 hours of being created. This movement has helped many victims of sexual harassment and sexual violence speak out about their experience and know that they are not alone. In an article by the Insider 15 women spoke about their experience and how the #Metoo movement has helped them “The #Metoo campaign has really helped people to feel that they are not alone.” This shows how the Internet can be a great thing that helps many people that have gone through a traumatic experience and how it has helped them share their stories and connect with people who have gone through a similar experience.
However, there is a dangerous side to free speech on the Internet. In Florida Devon Arthurs, an 18-year-old Nazi, shot and killed two of his friends to thwart a terrorist attack by Atomwaffen, a neo-Nazi organization. Arthur was part of neo-fascist group, a terrorist organization which was developed through the internet. Arthur would take part in online group chats which included him and, around 60 to 70, other people talking about bombing places such as power lines and synagogues and killing people. Four days after the shooting the neo fascists group, that Arthur was part of, posted a video on YouTube telling people to join their local Nazis. This shows the how free speech on the Internet can be dangerous as is has allowed people to join hateful and dangerous groups that allows people to influence and push their hateful racist opinion onto others, which can result in deadly incidences.
Another example the positive side to free speech on the Internet is the Egyptian revolution. The revolution started when Wael Ghonim created a Facebook page and put up a post about a young man who was killed and how the young people in Egypt are being mistreated, the group gained 250,000 members in three months. Because of this online group people began to lead marches and demonstrations, such as silent stands, against the government. And in the end -300,000- people created a rally at the Tahrir Square protesting against the mistreatment and poverty in Egypt, this shows the positive side to free speech on the Internet as it allowed this man to connect with thousands of other people and inspire them to help make a difference, which would have not been possible without the Internet.
Furthermore, free speech on social media can also involve hate speech, in Charlottesville the leaders of white supremacy groups organized demonstrations against the removal of a confederate statue by creating a Facebook event. On 11 august 2017 around 250 white supremacist and neo-Nazis marched with torches and shouting chants as they walked toward the statue of Jefferson, the rallies then turned into violence with three people dying as the white supremist began fighting with students at the university. The events were organized through a Facebook event page and neo-Nazi websites and created memes, and propaganda, to make people join then and get people excited for the rallies. This shows how free speech is bad as it has allowed these people to organize such a big hateful rally by just using the Internet and the social platforms, and maybe if they did not have such freedom on the Internet this dangerous rally would not have happened and people would not have got hurt.
But free speech on social media can be a good thing that can help many people, in 2014 the ice bucket challenge went viral and in doing so helped many people. Over 17 million took part in the challenge and it consisted of people throwing ice cold water over themselves then donating money and nominating people to do it too, the challenge was created to get people to donate money toward a charity that would donate it to the ALS Association, to help research towards ALS disease. Because of this viral challenge people raised £115 million for the association and because of the money raised the association was able to make a breakthrough in the research of the disease, “It shows everyone who contributed to the ice bucket challenge that their donation had an impact on the research”, – Brian Fredrick, executive vice-president of communication and development at the ALS Association. This evidence shows how free speech can be good as it can bring people together and work together to help a good cause that will ultimately help the health millions of other people.
However, the Internet does have a dangerous and cruel side. With the Internet being so easy to access and many people using it cyber bullying is very common on many different platforms. Nobullying.com released a report that shows the statistics of the consequences of cyberbullying, the report showed that 23% of bully victims turned to self-harm and 10% of victims have tried to take their own lives. This evidence shows how free speech on Internet can be a very bad thing when people choose to use their free speech for hate and how when it goes too far it can result in people being harmed mentally and emotionally.
In conclusion, after looking at all the positive and negative things that have come from free speech in the Internet, I think that it is a good thing that people are able to express their feelings online and able to help make a difference but I also think that the social media can also be a place to spread hate and the creators of these platforms have to try and minimize these pages and people from being able to spread so much hate.