Free speech in a trolling world

in GEMSlast year

I recently finished the book ´Troll hunting: inside the world of online hate and its human fallout´ by Ginger Gorman and it certainly raised some interesting points. The book is investigative journalism where the author goes inside the world of trolls to see what makes them tick.


What I found interesting was the discussion around free speech and trolling - it can be a blurry line between what should be considered free speech and what is trolling. As humans we should have the right to express our own opinions (alot of that is done online now through social media). However, we also need to keep people safe from hate speech and other trolling that can cause real harm. The question is how to police this and whos responsibility it is - government and policy or the large social media companies?

Social media companies moral obligations

It can be argued that social media companies have a moral obligation to keep their websites safe (and they do try!). They all seem to have policies around trolling and what is allowed. However, this is a very subjective topic and what can be seen as hateful or harmful could vary between individuals. Additionally they are starting to use AI to detect what is and isnt acceptable on their platforms - I can think of many reasons why this might not work....

How does the government play a part in this?

Some people think that the government already have sweeping powers online (they do in some ways!), while others think they need to act and create policies around hate speech online and how to manage it. It seems it is in their interest to keep the internet safe for everyone within their country. However, each countries government will have different opinions on how to manage trolls online.

We the people - letting the people decide whats appropriate

Places like Hive are a great start in the right direction, where the people decide what is and isnt acceptable on the platform. It is definitely not perfect and in its early stages but decentralized social media could really revolutionize how free speech is viewed and managed online. Through upvotes and downvotes the community decides what is appropriate and what isnt.

What do you all think? How should we manage free speech and trolling in our social media world?


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