The advent of social networking sites has enabled people to connect and share ideas and information more easily. Before the technology of social networking site was invented, people had to meet face-to-face to communicate, create time to have conversations, and it took long for one to provide feedback. However, when social networking sites were invented, it provided convenience to people who did not have sufficient time to meet and interact with others. As such, many believe that social networking sites have improved life. One of the social networking sites is Facebook. It was created by a group of students in Harvard to help connect them and provide a platform where they can exchange ideas on what they had learned in class. After improvements, the technology was made available to the rest of the world. It led to the debate regarding the negatives and positives of social media. While some believed that it provides a platform for free expression, there are those who think that it has only produced a platform for people to insult, bully, and threaten others without fear of punishment. Therefore, in this presentation, I will explain how the positives of Facebook in enabling freedom of expression outweighs the negatives of people using it to bully, threaten, and insult others.
Facebook provides a sense of anonymity which enables an individual to give a personal view of the world and on crucial matters to others. It is achieved by setting up an initial online network with others and organizing thoughts and align them concerning ongoing events that are of public interest. According to a study by Tatevik Sargsyan, 2014, social networking sites have created a benevolent environment for people to freely express themselves without fear of victimization (Sargsyan 284). In his research, the author analyzed how online media influenced freedom of expression in Armenia. According to his study on media freedom in Armenia, the author acknowledges that freedom of expression was limited in 2008 after a highly contended general election that was marred with violent protests by the opposition (Sargsyan 285). However, the widespread of the use of social media after 2008 revamped freedom of expression using the media in the country. The findings showed that online media, Facebook included, diminished the aspect of ownership and bias in information. Many media organizations launched online publications through their social media accounts. They established that social media enabled consumers to react to information without fear of victimization. The findings of the research justify the increase in the number of media houses that have an equally active social media presence. Today, every TV channel has an official Facebook account where the audience can express their opinions on various news items, programs, and concerns.
Facebook provides freedom of expression which encourages the unraveling of the truth in information regarding critical issues. In Facebook, no one fears to express his/her opinion because, unless with the help of government intelligence, it is almost impossible to locate where other users are located physically. Therefore, when there is controversy surrounding an issue, it is in everyone’s interest to establish the truth without fearing for victimization or safety. Various researches have confirmed that value of social media platforms in determining the truth. For example, according to a study by Kate Klonick, online information platforms have helped in finding truths in information because they have participation, diligence, and integrity in the transmission and implementation of information. The study was based on exploring how online platforms created new forms of governance by analyzing their influence on people, rules, and freedom of speech (Klonick 1601). Most of the articles reviewed by the author showed that people believed that social media had provided a platform for information realists, optimists, and pessimists (Klonick 1613). Meaning, some people believe in the potential of social media platforms like Facebook to establish a culture where every detail of information is put in the open for the audience. While this feature of social media platforms favors democratic countries, it may not be favorable for authoritarian and dictatorship governance. For example, in countries like Pakistan, North Korea, and Turkey, there is a limitation of the use of social media imposed by governments to avoid problems that emanate from freedom of expression. Nevertheless, since research evidence shows that most thriving nations embrace freedom of expression, there should be continued use of social media to encourage the unraveling of the truth of information on critical matters.
The freedom of expression in Facebook promotes autonomy which enables people to think and judge without external interference. Autonomy involves self-realization. It is based on the ease in explaining a particular view to self and encouraging the same in others. Facebook provides a platform where one can practice autonomy through posting on either personal or general matters. While both scenarios depend on the social nature of human identity, they are central to achieving individual identity and judgment. According to the study by Klonick, people will embrace the use of social media platforms in communication because they believe it is an effective way of expressing their judgment on critical issues (Klonick 1615). Admittedly, the study reflects autonomy in the context of the nature of information shared on social media platforms. For example, information can be harmful, real, or positive. Nevertheless, the three aspects reflect judgment which is a critical component of autonomy.
Facebook enables one to gain a better understanding of oneself and the world through communicating with others and using the ideas to shape own thoughts and aspirations. The primary objective of social networking sites is to create social connections among people by allowing them to share details on personal life and views on the general world. Admittedly, each person is unique. Hence, social media platforms like Facebook makes it easy for users to learn and embrace differences in culture, language, religion, ethnicity, and gender. According to the findings of the research by Sargasyen, social networking sites have provided an alternative communication environment where users have the confidence to express their truths (Sargsyan 286). Meaning, when one genuinely shares an understanding of an issue, it can influence another’s view of the same and help both of them in identifying with the issue. While most researchers refer to the interplay of worldviews as intersubjective, it is clear that it has led to many alignments in social media platforms. For example, some people have opened Facebook accounts to create awareness on the effects of racism on the unity of the country. It helps in better understanding self-regarding a particular race and changing it to ensure that it does not impose on anyone’s right to embrace own race.
Although there are many values in the freedom of expression provided, there are still those who believe that social media platforms like Facebook are just used to insult, bully, and threaten others. Admittedly, the point of view is valid because of the anonymity in social media. Some people misuse the privilege of anonymity on Facebook to insult, bully or threaten people that hold different opinions or look different. Consequently, there are rising cases of mental health issues like depression among young adults who are mostly on Facebook. Also, there are increasing instances of young adults committing suicide. According to a study conducted by Wu and Lien on how school students use the anonymous presence on social media and the connection between anonymity and cyberbullying, the researchers established that this feature of social media encouraged students to insult and bully their peers (Wu and Lien 534). They explained that social media created a sense of anonymity among students which reduced their sense of accountability. For example, if a student is bullying another student and the latter does not know how the bully is, the intensity of the abuse consistently increases since, in the view of the bully, there is no way of holding him accountable for his actions.
Additionally, the bully believes that he cannot be traced. While the view is valid, the challenges presented can be corrected through interventions by parents, teachers and effective implementation of the cybersecurity policies. Parents should monitor the behavior of their children on social media platforms like Facebook. Teachers should organize sessions where to sensitize students on the effects of bullying on social media platforms. The cybersecurity policies should be implemented effectively to ensure adults found guilty of insulting, bullying and threatening others are taken to court and charged.
In conclusion, my purpose was to show how freedom of expression makes social media platforms like Facebook valuable. Freedom of expression is a crucial component of a free and liberal society. A person should feel free to express an opinion on any matter on the condition that the expression does not infringe on anyone’s right of freedom of expression. Social media platforms like Facebook have provided a new way of expression through an online presence. While it is believed that it is a great opportunity, some people hold that it is only providing a platform for people to insult, bully, and threaten others. The paper has shown that freedom of expression in Facebook is valuable because it allows for a sense of anonymity which enables users to provide a personal view on matters, encourages the unraveling of the truth in information, and promotes autonomy which allows users to freely express thoughts and judgment on both own and issues of public interest. Admittedly, some people use social media platforms like Facebook to insult, bully, and threaten others. However, as research evidence has shown, this can be controlled through parents monitoring the activities of their children on social media platforms, teachers creating sessions to sensitize the students on the effects of bullying, insulting, and threatening peers on social media, and authorities effectively implementing the cybersecurity policies. My appeal to you today is that you ensure that you use Facebook to freely express yourselves without interfering with the freedom of others to equally express themselves. Let us use Facebook to build ourselves and improve society instead of using it to make others have negative feelings about themselves.
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