This Daily Post Writing Prompt originally appeared on the site on May 29, 2013:
Is it a website’s job to moderate the content users post, or should users have freedom to say what they want? Is there a happy medium? If so, how would you structure it?
The First Amendment states the following:
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.
The Founding Fathers wrote this with the intent that any form of speech is protected, and obviously this applies to social media and internet use. Having a blog is included in this right – I can put to computer screen whatever I want (like this paragraph), and not have to worry about someone telling me I can’t.
Website users should always have the freedom to say what they want, but they should be prepared for someone to disagree with them. After all, if one has the freedom to say something, then another has the freedom to debate with them. However, a website should always be able to intervene when the actions of one include hate speech and anything profane. Being able to intervene when absolutely necessary is a “happy medium.”
When responding to a comment or an article, people sometimes don’t think before they type. It is great to show passion for something one believes in, agrees, or disagrees on, but doing so in a manner that is short of rational, mature, and professional should never be allowed. Even though website moderators should always be on guard for anything profane or prohibited from using the website, people too should use discretion when posting. Think to yourself, even in the heat of the moment, will what I saw hurt someone else’s feelings, or will my words and actions get me banned from a site. If you can choose your words reasonably and respond without inciting an argument (or worse), your words are free to be yours.
It all comes down to common sense – consider others and how your words could affect them. If we all did that, then the happy medium of website moderators monitoring the actions of the site users will be just that, a happy medium. They’ll never have to use their moderating powers.
That, my friends, is truly free speech.