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Social And Ethical Implications Of Twitter Censorship

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The Internet since its inception, has become a primary source of information flow throughout the world and the social networking has empowered people in every corner of the world to interact, collaborate and share their views online. Among which, the microblogging medium- Twitter, have 316 million active users every month with 500 million tweets posted each day. However, this free medium has lead to lot of consequences which are globally affected. There are countries that follow different religions and rules, but certain tweets and hashtags have created criticism between various countries. Moreover, women are threatened about abuse and violence on Twitter. The rise of social networks have resulted to invade the privacy of people as well. Large amount of public data from twitter is being used by researchers for health and depression monitoring and even for sentiment analysis without the consent of the users.

There are several benefits of Twitter, but it comes with many social and ethical issues that affect people around the globe. Here is an overview of the approaches made by Twitter itself and the Government to censor the contents of Twitter. I have even addressed the issue on how much and what data should be censored so that the people do not accuse the company for its decision to censor any content.

The evolution of social networking comes up with freedom of speech and expression for everyone, but it has many challenges as well as threats to people or entire communities as well. Firstly, the introduction of Twitter censorship can avoid or reduce the criticism faced between countries. Secondly, it can avoid violence and abuse against women. Lastly, it can avoid use of public data without consent of the users.

Twitter censorship can avoid criticism between countries. Twitter is growing throughout the globe. In the year 2012, Twitter posted a blog explaining that each and every country has their different views and it can conflict with views of some other countries. Every country has its own definition of freedom of expression. Some of the countries can have totally opposite views which may not even exist in some other country. Apart from that, other countries may have similar views but their culture may not follow such thing hence creating a conflict between them. For instance, Germany or France are opposed to pro-Nazi tweets. Twitter until now, in case of any conflict, had to delete that particular tweet globally. So they took a decision of censoring the tweets from any user in particular countries with different views. According to this censorship would definitely benefit all the activists. In case if a government demands to get down any tweet which is offending any country, then Twitter has only two options. Either remove that tweet or user in that particular country, or deny the government and getting a risk of blocking entire Twitter for that particular country. So it seems better to get the content blocked for a particular country and still able to reach to rest of the world unlike first when the tweet was deleted entirely and inaccessible to entire world.

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Secondly, Twitter censorship can avoid violence threats and abuse against women. By having the right to freedom of expression means that everyone should be openly able to involve and share their views online without having fear of abuse or violence. But it is totally opposite with women on Twitter. In reference to this, Amnesty International conducted an online poll about how women’s feel about and what are their overall experience on Twitter. The results were astonishing as the poll of around 63% to 83% of women stated that they have faced situations threats of harassment and abuse. Meanwhile, the poll of around 78% to 81% women stated that they changed their way of using Twitter as they used it before.

Lastly, Twitter censorship can avoid researchers to use public data without their consent. The amount of user data generation is increasing every single day. Millions of people share their views on tweets daily. People share tweets expressing their opinions or views about almost everything which has created Twitter as a real time information collector. In this generation of data, the analysts or the researchers have started using this public data to analyse sentiment from the opinions [PAPER 12]. Most of the time the sentiments that are analysed are related to politics which may create controversies within or between some countries. Moreover, the data is also used to monitor the health and detect any disease by analysing the behaviour of people. This is possible by noticing the instances of alcohol, cigarettes or hookah and understanding each user’s behaviour [PAPER 6]. Apart from this, researchers are even working to analyse the mental health, i.e the depression at population level [Paper 7]. However, using the data without having the user’s consent is not ethical. Researchers cannot take consent from each and every user, even if he tries to do so, he won’t get reply from half of the users as some of them might have left Twitter or simply ignore the message. Hence, censorship of Twitter can avoid the user data privacy from invading and restrict the researchers to use the public data without consent.

Twitter censorship violates the basic human rights of freedom of speech. The social media companies have reached upto a level where they can determine what crosses their digital borders. So, Twitter has the power to remove or limit the content or entire account of a particular user [https://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2018/01/12/is-twitter-really-censoring-free-speech/#116a59da65f5]. Even the government can involve to remove critical tweets or comments in some cases which stops someone from reaching to the people throughout the globe. If people are stopped to share their opinions about someone or something is violating its freedom of speech. Either Twitter censors some contents in some specific countries or Twitter as a whole is censored by the government, it would definitely violate the human rights.

Twitter censorship grabs more attention to the censored content. A general tendency of citizens have been observed during past few years with respect to censorship. Whenever the government imposes censorship on a content, the people usually tried to acquire that piece of content by learning new methods to evade the censorship. Despite having a traditional perspective that censorship will lead to decrease in access to that content, increasing censorship leads the citizen to invest more in the technology that evades the censored content. Here, the censorship performed as a medium for publicity globally. It shows the same tendency of censorship that by having blocked the most popular social networking platform Instagram in China has led millions of people to evade the Great Firewall and try to access Instagram. So in this case, the situation suddenly increased the number of visitors from China who were trying to access Instagram’s website. is evident to this scenario stating that the Chinese users that never showed interest to Instagram ever started to get into topics of some occurring protests online just after Instagram’s service was stopped in China.

Although there may be some good benefits of Twitter as a microblogging platform and its censorship may violate the basic human rights of freedom of speech and grab more attention to the censored information. However, there are various social and ethical implications of Twitter. The social controversies on Twitter have a negative impact between countries and creates criticism between them which may indirectly hurt their religion or their way of living. Moreover, it causes silent abuse and violence threats to the women who wants to get involve and give their views and opinions, which may demotivate women from raising their voice. Everyone should be treated equally and women should not be criticised for their thoughts. Apart from this, the public’s opinions or views and every other tweets from the Twitter is being used by the researchers to do sentiment analysis, that too without the consent of the users which is ethically wrong. Hence, in my perspective, Twitter should be censored for the betterment of the society and avoid the criticism and silent abuse.

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Social And Ethical Implications Of Twitter Censorship. (2021, September 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-and-ethical-implications-of-twitter-censorship/
“Social And Ethical Implications Of Twitter Censorship.” Edubirdie, 28 Sept. 2021, edubirdie.com/examples/social-and-ethical-implications-of-twitter-censorship/
Social And Ethical Implications Of Twitter Censorship. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-and-ethical-implications-of-twitter-censorship/> [Accessed 7 Dec. 2022].
Social And Ethical Implications Of Twitter Censorship [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 28 [cited 2022 Dec 7]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-and-ethical-implications-of-twitter-censorship/
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