The influence that social media is placing on current events from political to economic and socio-cultural aspects is tremendous. On one end, policymaking is regarded as a pivotal process in politics with influences on social and economic factors. As such, through media citizens have been able to learn more about how governments operate. In return, governments are using such platforms to give back feedback to its citizens (Lawrence & Weber, 2017).
On the other hand, it has influenced public policy which in turn has impacted on aspects of human rights such as the introduction of the freedom to be forgotten. The following paper aims to discuss aspects of them to be forgotten and public policy concerning social media use in America and Europe. Precisely, the paper shall delineate on issues of how impactful social media has been in current events in America and Europe.
Right to be Forgotten and Social Media
The establishment of the human right on the right to be forgotten was derived as a result of the famous case Google Spain SL Google Inc. v. Agencia Espanola de Proteccion de Datos, Marios Costeja Gonzalez (2014) (Jonason,2018). The results of the ruling in the case determined that the ability to codify the right to be forgotten would be enacted in Europe under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) parallel to the right to erasure. The rule ensures that primary regulations of erasure obligations are maintained (Jonason, 2018). This means that data can be erased when it is no longer needed by the subject withdrawn through their consent with no legal grounds required. Since the ruling was made in Europe through its European Union Courts, the impact has been differential in European countries and America.
Across Europe, well for members of the European Union, claimants can request Google to remove any links that are irrelevant or outdated online. According to Newman (2015), power has been termed as controversial and can transcend from companies to individuals. This means that on social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, the impact places more power on the respondent than the service provider. The underlining regulation according to the ruling was that advocacy for the right to be forgotten should go hand in hand with fundamental rights. They include data protection, privacy and legitimate public interest in accessing data online. However, issues are surrounding the case lost by Google. The foundational problem is that de-referencing by Google it would limit the internet users right to information from Google (Jonasaon, 2018). The grounds to this are that if the majority of the users define a link or URL as irrelevant, then Google is obliged to remove. The reasoning is that internet users including social media platforms can erase search links through terms such as ‘irrelevant, inadequate and excessive.” From a larger-scale, it means that users can determine which websites or images or videos are unrelated. Nonetheless, the power to the people is questionable with an influence on how much data is accessible to the rest of the world including America (Newman, 2015). The reason is that the ruling by the European Court provides a jurisprudence through which other countries may exploit the legal boundaries set out for Google and may have severe repercussions including regions such as Korea and Japan.
In America, a study revealed that nearly 88% of Americans support the European Court of Justice ruling on Google with the premise that internet users can limit data exposure (Jonason, 2018). However, from a legal perspective, the enactment of the ruling is dim. Google is the largest service provider for the website and other social media platforms. The capability of Americans to decide what is relevant or not can be detrimental to fundamental rights on ‘right to information and freedom of speech.’ On the one hand, the enactment of the law in America is seen as a positive result. The premise to this is that it will limit the wrongful use of social media especially by millennials (Jonason, 2018). Millennials are prone to comment and write misguided statements that can impact how the public perceives certain concepts, events, and phenomenon. Therefore, the 88% engage that it is best to have the consent regulation in America about Google when it comes to social media relevance (Jonason, 2018). Therefore, on the other hand, law regulators are pinning the consent aspect of the Google case following the American constitution (Lawrence & Weber, 2017). The ideology is that the ‘right to be forgotten’ is not ensured in American law and may offer suppression of the freedom of speech- which goes against the fundamental rights of American citizens. The argument is however countered that with Google’s case ruling, it merely limits searches on social media sites rather than censor. Therefore, the question lies on what impact would such a ruling implementation have in America considering that freedom of speech is not contained.
Nonetheless, states such as California may already possess such laws known as ‘eraser law.’ This only serves minors and juveniles protecting them from any misrepresentation such as internet records on their jail terms and criminal records. In summary, the impact that the ruling has had in Europe has been more impactful compared to that in America (Lawrence & Weber, 2017). Nevertheless, from a law perspective, the bone of contention is whether the EU court of justice ruling may have a temporary impact from a global perspective influencing America’s freedom of speech and right to access information. As a result, this may foster a public policy concept that may have pendulum-based consequences on positivity and negativity.
Public Policy and Social Media
Social media impacts how citizens view their government and its roles and achievements. Public policy is termed as an unwritten principle that governs society. Media outlets including applications that allow the federal share of content can influence how citizens and users perceive a particular event or spectacle. According to Van Aelst and Walgrave, (2017), in most cases, social media has a direct influence on how public policy is formulated from a political environment. Traditionally, policymaking, for instance, followed a specific sequence of processes in the identification of problems and solutions devise on how to solve the problems. However, in the current era, political spheres have been overtaken by social media. The result is the re-orientation of the public ideologies when it comes to public policies (Van Aelst, & Walgrave, 2017). Therefore, it provides platforms for crusaders to sway the public in one direction or the other opposite or line with government policies.
The social media impact has primarily been oscillatory ranging from positive to negative. On one end, progressive-era crusaders are committed to ensuring that justice and fairness are provided for all individuals. Despite the philosophy of justice and truth in modern times being subjective, the use of social media has intensified the process (Park et al. 2016). For example, in France, the increased crusade on human rights violations enacted by the government refusing refugee asylum provision has intensified through social media. The confounding ideology is that the French government under President Macaron is not willing to secure the protection and safety of refugees on national soil despite its membership to the EU that requires the government to do so.
The impact of human rights watch activist platforms throughout websites, and other social media platforms have been intense. Numerous protests and campaigns have plagued the country for more than three years to date. Most of the protestors are in line with human rights activists while others are against it (Park et al., 2016). Another example is in America on the same accord with Mexican refugees. President Donald Trump was waged graft war against the allowance for southern refugees to seek asylum in America. Social media activists have launched campaigns against the president terming his as arrogant and ignorant of the central theme in the American dream. It is evident that the new public policy is geared toward shaming and deterring the population against the undertakings of the government. As such, this presents a direct link that the media has a strong influence on policy (Head & Alford, 2015).
Thus, media has defined itself as a platform through which it influences politicians and society alike. For politicians, the influence has been tremendous with political campaigns shifting from traditional concepts to embracing new social media concepts. America was the pioneering nation that allowed politicians to seek marketing platforms through social media. The marketing process transcends from presidential campaigns to push for a political agenda. It is common to find senators, governors and the president using platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to explain their political agenda. The perception as Chung and Zeng (2016) elucidate is that social media has the highest range of audiences and through freedom of speech politicians can change the mindset of the people. However, this may not be as effective as initially thought. The reason is that the possibility of millions of people to transmit with the message is a gamble.
Similarly, Europe has adopted similar antics. At the EU level, the body embraces nearly 375 million voters who are even though internet use in Europe is not as substantial compared to America. Politicians and policymakers in Europe are yet to get accustomed to social media use, and this has impacted political marketing. Contrary to this, is that citizens are aware of the impact that social media places on public policy (Park et al., 2016). Media outlets are using social media to discuss pertinent issues such as BREXIT. A documentary on BREXIT revealed that British citizens are wary of its impact considering it has been more than two-and-a-half years since the announcement and nothing has changed. The effect that the documentary has produced has been tremendous with the recent voting going against the move to exit from the EU.
The present paper has presented a brief analysis of the right to be forgotten and public policy concerning social media use in America and Europe. The first analysis has brought information regarding the right to be forgotten with emphasis on how EU has embraced the new law whereas, Americans are on the fence regarding adoption of the privilege. Consequently, the paper has also presented information regarding social media use and its impact on public policy. It is evident that public policy alterations through social media are more highlighted in America compared to Europe. The paper has provided reasons as to why the phenomenon is as it is and how politicians and policymakers are gravitating towards social media use in Europe mimicking its impact in America. Therefore, in conclusion, it is clear that social media has a profound effect on the political, social, cultural and economic aspects of society. How society and its policymakers view, social media impact is differential and may stimulate different response mechanisms from regulation and public policy point of view.
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