Law in the Internet Society

How should people deal with social network services?

-- By RyotaSaito - 7 January 2022


In the class, the names of major IT companies such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook were frequently mentioned. Through the class and the recent news, I decided to discuss how people should deal with social network services such as Facebook and Twitter. Social network services have penetrated deeply into the lives of people all over the world and have become an essential part of both individual lives and corporate business activities. Although social network services are recognized for their convenience, there are more and more cases of abuse of social network services, such as fake news and hate speech, which have become social problems. How are we going to deal with social network services now, and how should we deal with them?

Are we moving toward allowing censorship by social media? 〜 Relationship with freedom of speech~

It goes without saying that freedom of speech is the foundation of democracy. Expression by individuals should be protected in principle, and democracy is developed when various ideas are scrutinized and weeded out in the free speech market. And if we value freedom of speech, we should not allow social media to unilaterally delete posts by social network services as much as possible. Whether or not the post in question is fake news, for example, should be judged by each individual who sees the post, and for social media to delete a post because it is judged to be fake news is to shut the post out of the free speech market and should not be allowed in principle. It is not easy to determine whether a post is fake or not, for example, and it goes without saying that allowing Twitter and Facebook to censor may lead to arbitrary censorship. However, the incident at the U.S. Capitol that was triggered by former President Trump's post on Twitter led to increased criticism of Twitter and Facebook for letting posts that fall under the categories of hate speech, fake news, and criminal acts go unchecked. Rather, the idea that social media should take responsibility for censoring and regulating these posts (fake news and hate speech should not be left unchecked) has also been strongly advocated in light of the social influence that Twitter and Facebook have.

Opinions of the international community and personal view

In the wake of the U.S. presidential election, Twitter has decided to permanently freeze former President Trump's account because his posts may encourage violence. There have been various opinions on both sides of this decision by Twitter. As Mark Warner, a Democratic senator from Virginia stated, the main reason for agreeing with Twitter's decision is the abuse of fake news and extremism. In contrast, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French ministers, and European Commission President Jean-Claude von der Leyen have expressed concern that Twitter's decision is problematic. The most important reason to oppose Twitter's decision is the importance of freedom of speech, i.e., given the importance of freedom of expression, any interference with it should be based on the law, not on the company's internal rules. I am opposed to social media restrictions on users' posts for the following reasons.

(1) Increasing influence of social media

Today, the influence of social network services is very large. As those who oppose Twitter's decision have argued above, social networks have a significant impact on the outcome of elections and are an important place for political expression. The danger of excluding certain categories of opinions in the name of "fake news" is obvious, and at the very least, a private company should not be given such authority. In addition to that, I believe that the importance of the value of SNS as a place for people's self-realization should not be overlooked. There are people, especially young people, who say that satisfying their need for self-approval through social networking services is their reason for living, and there are many companies and people who say that social networking services have changed their lives. Therefore, it is very important for users to be able to post freely on social network services.

(2) People should have the power of judgment.

It is true that allowing some degree of censorship by social media may improve the convenience of social networking sites in the sense that certain fake news and hate speech will be eliminated and people will not see such problematic posts. However, fake news and hate speech have existed in people's conversations since the days when there were no SNS. Even before social networking services existed, people were thinking about them, judging the credibility of information, and choosing and discarding information. This is true even today, when the amount of information people are exposed to through social network services has increased dramatically. In Switzerland, there is no specific law banning social network services. It is also argued that measures against fake news, etc., should be left to individual judgment rather than regulation. This idea is in line with my own. If we leave it to social media to determine the credibility of information and believe what they choose to tell us, then it is as if people are being controlled by social media.

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r3 - 08 Jan 2022 - 04:55:38 - RyotaSaito
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