Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Digital Sheep's Clothing 
In the LA Times yesterday there was a feature article about social media. It seems that social media is now being used to trash opponents in the political arena with effective results. They are Trojan horse sites and phony Facebook pages that seem to be in support of a candidate when in reality it is full of half truths and complete lies. There have even been some cases of bogus Twitter accounts.  Supporters think they are following their candidate when in actuality they are being propagandised by the opposition. Given the notion that everything is taken as fact on the Internet it becomes a problem for the truth to rise to the digital surface. 
Ordinarily I would argue on the side of freedom of speech no matter what the means of transmission, but this is different. These attacks are made anonymously with no recourse for slander or libel. Freedom of speech means that an individual has the right to speak what is on his mind as long as it does not infringe on another persons freedoms. These wolves in digital sheep's clothing have nothing to do with freedom of speech.  I don't see that the constitution protects libel snipers who hide in the web. 
To have the right to free speech you must also incur the responsibility for speaking. Freedom of speech comes with the amendment that we also have the right to face our accuser.  How can anyone have the right to face someone with opposing views if the accuser is faceless and unidentifiable? Without that right there can be no right of free speech. Say what you will about what you believe but do it out in the open and own what you say. Hiding behind a computer screen spewing lies is not a constitutionally sanctioned freedom. Anyone who posts something anonymously does so for the simple reason they do not want to take responsibility for the statement.  It is cowardly and restricts the freedom of those who have the courage of standing by what they say. If you don't know the source how can you evaluate the statement?
With more powerful tools new rules are needed.  The safety precautions for using a hand saw by necessity must be different than those taken when using a powerful electric saw.  This is responsibility and it is no less important to be responsible for such a powerful tool as the Internet.  Say what you mean, but own what you say and be ready to take the cheers or the geers of repercussion.
As you were,

No comments: