COMMENTARY | Freedom of speech and social media have long been hard battlelines in the world of media and politics. And with the advent of social networking sites, what was once taboo and somewhat obscure has now become commonplace. From this day forth the Web Gods have decided that anybody anywhere in the world has the right or rather the access to say what ever they want to say to people. However, the key issue could be now people are actually listening and paying attention.
Some may say “Hey, we have had blogs and forums for years online,” however, with social media anyone can create influence, and sites like Twitter place rants and rhetoric all in one place and with the way sharing is done now, your Facebook, Tumblr, Myspace, Zaarly and other posts can all now be shared via Twitter. Information sharing by all means is good, we each have the ability to create influence and at worst become the town crier.
There is a flipside to this type of access when it turns ugly and the forces of evil infiltrate what is normally used for good is now utility for nefarious rants. Case and point when in August 2008 when internationally known comedian Bernie Mac was ill and there were tweets and reports of his death two weeks prior to his passing. Imagine his publicist coming into his hospital room: “On Twitter they’re saying you have died!”
Well that maybe an over-analyzation, so let’s take world of sports. This past weekend after the 49ers lost to the Giants a fan tweeted Kyle Williams, punt returner for the 49ers, wishing death upon him, his wife and offspring. This is insane. Twitter has become sort of a Tower of Babel where there is no filter or police to allow some level of decency in the online world. In some regards how could it be policed — it would corrupt the only free place to express yourself. The charge is this: As a community we have to rise together and monitor those who wish to pillage and harass the freedoms of others online. We have to join together when people harass and threaten each other online by chastising and being accountable about how we handle our on line personas. In my neighborhood I wouldn’t attack my neighbor; the same should be expected online when some one threatens others or uses incendiary language online. I believe that one day we can create a climate that will not allow for maliciousness to be common place online.