In the wake of so-called Internet ‘trolling’ and concerns with offensive and threatening content online. Will Facebook, Instagram and Twitter users soon require a social media license so that they can no longer hide behind anonymity?
What someone finds ‘offensive’ can be subjective based on the individuals involved. A throwaway tweet about someone’s political alignment, or how disclosing that there are only in fact, 2 genders and not 72, could be the difference between an exchange of differing dialogue and freedom of speech, to assumed ‘hate speech’ and the triggering of a highly emotional reaction. Since someone claiming to be offended by a viewpoint for whatever reason, that does not conform or align to their own, doesn’t automatically make it a form of ‘hate speech.’
What is Hate Speech?
Hate speech is a word that gets tossed around more than Bill Clinton getting tossed by Monica Lewinsky under the White House oval office desk. So, what exactly is hate speech?
As defined by the glorified sources of all reliable information, Wikipedia. Hate speech is ‘speech that attacks a person or a group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.’
In the UK, several statutes criminalise hate speech against several categories of people. The statutes forbid communication that is hateful, threatening, or abusive, and targets a person on account of disability, ethnic or national origin, nationality (including citizenship), race, religion, sexual orientation, or skin colour. The penalties for hate speech include fines, imprisonment, or both.
While many people can clearly separate the difference from inciting violence on a group of people based solely on skin tone, to a critical and constructive viewpoint on ideology and a set of religious doctrines, some can’t.
However, in these muddled waters, what is classed as apparent ‘Islamophobia’ and what is merely a disapproving viewpoint on a culture and beliefs, should very much be up for debate, as otherwise it infringes on the freedom of speech. So, is disagreeing with someone’s political preference, or what god or prophet someone worships, directly in violation of ‘hate speech?’
The difference between ‘Hate and Free Speech’
In a digital public forum, what is considered freedom of speech, and what is classified as legitimate and defined ‘hate speech?’ Well, that is the issue, nobody can seem to work out.
The Internet, and especially social media has inflamed political and social tension and has left those with opposing views on everything from Brexit, President Trump to whether Kim Kardashian is the reincarnation of Mother Teresa, unable to communicate and share ideas and perspectives without resulting to some form of personal insult.
In some cases, even resulting to threats of violence, to actual violence, and revealing personal information such as location and address, and even threats of murder.
This emotionally charged, and often aggressive disagreement of differing views is almost always exclusively found in those with so-called ‘liberal’ views. As is most often the case, you are more likely to find those who classify themselves as ‘progressive’ on their Twitter bio’s whom are actually more likely to be intolerant and disapproving of any kind of viewpoint that does not conform to their own. Often resulting in a mass triggering of unacceptable capital letters and exclamation marks in an angry filled 140-character tweet.
So, the question still remains. What exactly is hate speech? Well, if you are a so-called social justice warrior or progressive, then quite frankly, there are no limitations as to what could be classified as hate speech. From disagreeing with leering grown men throwing dollar bills at a 10-year-old transsexual dancing like a stripper, to having concerns that illegal mass migration is a national epidemic that brings unnecessary crime and poverty, literally anything can be objectified as hate speech.
It may even be a hate crime for a white heterosexual male to sneeze in public. And while this still may seem unlikely. With the current state of reality, anything is quite literally a possibility at this point, just like with ‘manspreading’ and ‘mansplaining.’
A License for a Safe Space
Which brings us back to those advocating for a social media licence, and how a dedicated team of licence officials and authorities would monitor what you can, and cannot say while using your social media account.
Resembling something straight out of the mind of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. A social media license would give authorities the power to track and monitor online engagement and communication. In theory, creating a social media police state in which your every tweet and post would be examined and inspected thoroughly. This would also give way to flag and ultimately, punish those users who do not follow strict online behaviour protocols and policies.
Those who wish to apply for a social media licence would need to pass highly scrutinized vetting and background checks, this would include full criminal checks and political and ideology tests. Did you once like a Tommy Robinson Facebook status condemning Pakistani paedophile gangs systemically and racially grooming English white girls before he was banned from the platform? Then your application to responsibly comment on Facebook may be rejected.
Did you once ‘misgender’ and use the wrong pronoun of a gender fluid, pre-op transsexual illegal alien? Then we are afraid that your application for a social media licence may be rejected.
After all, it has to be made to limit conservative reach, any opposing views and political views than those aligned with the establishment and those shadowy figures operating behind the scenes in the southern San Francisco Bay Area of California and Silicon Valley.
“Shadow banning”, which is the stealth banning of a user and their content from an online community in a way that will not be readily apparent and obvious to the user, that they have in fact been made invisible and unsearchable online, and suspending those with politically right and conservative views on social media is no longer a conspiracy theory, with many employees from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram admitting a bias of censorship towards Republicans and Trump supporters, in several leaked undercover interviews.
Even the White House Social Media Director, Dan Scavino, was not exempt from the discrimination of left leaning social media companies, as was evident when he was most recently blocked from his own social media account. Facebook said the issue was an “unintended consequence” of the platform’s policy on spam, adding it has been in touch with Scavino and have already apologised.
Trump pounced on the issue stating that “I will be looking into this!” in a Twitter post. The mass suspending and blocking of conservative voices has not gone unnoticed, with even the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr weighing in on the issue, noting that it is always conservative accounts apparently suspended in error, but only when confronted by angry and frustrated users whom are fed up with being silenced, merely because of any right leaning political affiliations.
A social media license would not protect people from apparent abuse and victimisation online. On the contrary, restricting people’s ability of freedom of speech, only sends that narrative underground into the deep web, where it will undoubtedly grow into long harvested hatred and resentment. Freedom of speech should fundamentally mean that all forms of speech are on the table, even those which we categorically disagree with.
Opposing options should be questioned, ideas should be challenged, and ultimate diversity of thought should be celebrated. And, not restricted under the confines of a license, where what you can say, compared to what you cannot say, is only a socialist dictatorship away.
Story by Michael Lee
Featured Photo Source: Loony Labs