Should There be Limitations to Free Speech in The Age of Social Media?

The First Amendment states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Or, in simpler terms, the people of America are free to believe, say and express themselves to a certain extent. That fact right there is what has always made the United States such a desirable place to live.

However, recently there has been much debate about how social media could affect this policy. Specifically, the section talking about free speech and freedom of the press. The big question people are asking is, “Should there be limitations to free speech in the age of social media?” Social media has created a platform where people can say literally whatever they want. It can be offensive, derogatory or even completely false. We’ve all seen it when scrolling through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. People can be so obscene and cruel to the point of cyber bullying or online harassment. While there are steps people can take to address this matter, it’s not always that simple. Victims of harassment on social media can report what is happening to them, but they are not always able to identify the person behind the screen or track them down. Consequently, the issue remains unsolved. Kellyn Simpkin-Texting Hat Girl Cactus Bench Floral Shirt

Another issue that society is facing on social media is the surplus of fake information. When a big nationwide issue is announced, people jump on the vulnerability of social media users and twist the news, or post something that is just completely untrue. Many times, someone with an agenda will take advantage of the power that social media gives them and post what they want people to think is true, and it works! There have been many incidents where people have made misinformed important decisions based off of they read on social media.

Americans have the right to free speech, but that was not intended to be taken advantage of. Social media companies like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are able to censor and put their own limitations on what people are able to say, but that is always after the fact. A post could be out there for who knows how long until it is reported and the company is able to shut it down.Paul Hanaoka 

The accessibility and power that social media provides causes debate among people on whether there should be limitations to free speech. However, if we start limiting, who decides when we stop? Who decides what is okay and what isn’t? Free speech is our right as Americans. Users of social media just need to be aware and use caution when scrolling through their feed. Next time someone attempts to engage you in an argument online, think before you participate. Next time you read something posted by an unofficial source, double check that their facts are correct.

Use your power and your right to free speech to spread positivity in this world. Speak openly about what you believe in and what you choose to fight for. Spread correct and impactful news that users of social media need to see. Free speech has just as many positive connotations as negative ones, if not more. Use this power that not everyone is as fortunate to have, and bring about positivity, change and unity in the social media world. Limiting free speech limits our power and ability to express the good found in the world. So next time your mindlessly flipping through social media, remember this opportunity that was given to you, and take advantage of all that free speech has given you.Woman smiling