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Social Media and Censorship

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Social media is becoming more widely used in everyday life and is becoming a platform home to a larger variety of content. There has been a lot of debate over whether social media regulation is necessary and what this type of regulation will mean for people’s rights and freedoms. Many argue that social media is becoming just as influential as mainstream media and therefor needs to be restricted. while social media is now becoming a more diverse platform regulation will cause a number of problems for its users such as formation of bias or unfair censorship.

Social media companies are privately owned so they do not have to abide by the first amendment, this means that through the censorship of their content they are not violating anyone’s right to free speech or expression. Australia does not have a bill of rights and no explicit right to freedom of speech or expression in the constitution. Although, Australia has ratified several agreements that elaborate on the international declaration of human rights Australia does not have to follow these international laws. Although Australia does not have to follow this agreement it would still be denying or restricting citizens implied rights to freedom of expression. As social media users are still being restricted from uploading content even if it is controversial as it is still a from of expression. Contrary to this, censorship is necessary on social media because it provides restriction to content that is not appropriate for general viewing or the audience it is being targeted to. Individual influencers can have a weighted impact on their followers’ opinions and actions especially on younger, more impressionable audiences. Online personalities sometimes don’t understand the extent of influence they have over their audience and the potential harm they could cause, regulations can help shield children from this harmful content. Lack of restrictions and regulations can also lead to corners of the internet where communities that promote dangerous content can grow and false ideologies can spread without being suppressed.

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In Australia internet service providers have broken a law if they fail to remove content regarding acts of murder, attempted murder, terrorism, torture, rape or kidnapping. However, this excludes things like medical procedures, violent sports and things that are fictitious. Outside of legal terms social media platforms will also have their own policies on what is and is not acceptable on their site and will regulate an individual’s or companies’ content in accordance to that. This becomes a problem on where the line is drawn and how far censorship can go on certain media platforms. Advertising on these sites has also taken off, with majority of large brands having their own social media profiles to advertise their products along with paid ads that show up on a user’s feed. Advertising a product on social media can sometimes even prove more efficient than advertising through TV. Advertising can play into media bias when it comes to the sorts of ads a platform will and will not promote and the political and social effect it can have upon a user. With political figureheads having their own social media accounts and political parties buying ads, it is important that no person is favoured by the site.

Social media have followings just as large as majority of mainstream media outlets and have just as much influence over the population. With these large followings you could argue it is only appropriate that they have the same forms of regulations that mainstream media have. Why should television content be regulated regarding explicit content when social media reaches millions and can be accessed at any time? With all these users and specific regulations, you must be careful of seeing through someone’s bias. The real issue begins if censorship gains a bias and leads to the users gaining ill-informed opinions due to not being shown all perspectives. An example of this is the extensive internet censorship in China that blocks or removes posts and content to do with certain topics that the government does not support or want to be known. This not only unfairly censors certain people’s views and attitudes but can cause ignorance towards issue among viewers as they have access to filtered information and cannot gain a researched opinion.

Overall, regulations of social media can be seen as both beneficial and harmful to society. By using censorship viewers can be protected from damaging content but can also be restricted from expressing themselves and run the risk of becoming ill informed. It is important to explore fully both the advantages and disadvantages of what restrictions are being placed on these platforms and what possibilities they create.

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Social Media and Censorship. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-media-and-censorship/
“Social Media and Censorship.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/social-media-and-censorship/
Social Media and Censorship. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-media-and-censorship/> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
Social Media and Censorship [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-media-and-censorship/
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