Social Media Regulation for Preventing Hate Crime and Terrorism
In the present-day world, the main threats to citizens’ security are terrorism and hate crime. They are rapidly developing under the influence of social media, which facilitates the exchange of opinions, but this process is not monitored by the authorities. Meanwhile, this approach evokes concerns of the population while their views vary depending on the possible outcomes of new regulations (Arnold, 2018; Aslund, 2017). Even though the access to open discussions of critical societal issues for individuals is a positive phenomenon, all public data should be examined to reveal the possibility of negative consequences for people’s wellbeing. In this case, there is a conflict between personal freedom as one of the basic provisions of the Constitution and the need to ensure everyone’s safety. Therefore, the government should regulate social media to prevent hate crime and terrorism by addressing the profitability of online platforms, applying traditional methods of control, and finding a compromise between liberty and necessary measures.
Profitability of Online Platforms
The principal consideration in the case of publishing materials, which can potentially lead to committing hate crimes or facilitate the communication of terrorists online, is the financial aspect. It means that the problem is in the control of information exercised by large corporations for their benefit, which is opposed to the ethics of traditional newspapers (Arnold, 2018). The former is concerned with increasing profits, whereas the issue of security remains unaddressed. This situation can hardly be changed by individual efforts because citizens do not possess sufficient resources for it. As a result, illegal content, such as terrorist propaganda or human trafficking, is still shown in ads on social media platforms (Leetaru, 2018). Meanwhile, one can hardly imagine seeing alarming advertisements in the daily press as these sources are manually edited (Leetaru, 2018). From this perspective, regulations of the government are the only means to combat the challenge.
The introduction of corresponding measures seems effective, but its success depends on how the authorities manage to demonstrate their feasibility. The opposition to this alternative is presented by people who worry that the expansion of their control will be worse than the operations of enterprises intended to gain profits (The Editorial Board, 2018). It is connected to the risks of the abuse of personal data after implementing federal regulations and, consequently, the violation of basic individual rights for freedom and liberty (The Editorial Board, 2018). These concerns are valid, but due to the absence of other effective options, the interference of the government is still needed. The matter of security is also connected to citizens’ wellbeing as the mentioned provisions, and the neglect of it might be more detrimental than the possibility of unauthorized access to personal information.
Traditional Methods of Control
The reason why the described fundamental changes are required is in the fact that the adopted methods for monitoring information published in newspapers are not used for controlling online platforms. However, they both serve the same purpose, which is educating the population regarding recent events and societal trends and, therefore, should be regulated in order to avoid misconceptions. In turn, the perception of social media as private conversations is the factor contributing to the promotion of terrorism and hate crimes (Aslund, 2017). Their use as the only source of credible news by the majority of citizens contributes to the need to introduce specific regulations (Aslund, 2017). As can be seen from the experience of European countries, the prohibition to collect excessive personal data, rules for reporting hacks, and fines for their breach are effective measures for this purpose (Chiara, 2018). They also show that a government takeover is different from reasonable actions for protecting citizens from various threats and can be safely adopted by other countries.
This suggestion might evoke concerns regarding the transparency of data and the violation of the First Amendment, but they can also be easily addressed. Thus, the freedom of speech in social media can hardly be controlled by different platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, despite their attempts. They delete accounts violating their policies, but this measure does not help eliminate the possibility of communication between terrorists, and occasional hate posts are still published (Robinson, 2018). Meanwhile, the creation of a healthy environment for discussion does not mean government censorship of people’s opinions (Yaraghi, 2018). It will only allow reducing the chances for viewing inappropriate content promoted by companies for profits and address the willingness of individuals to commit illegal acts.
A Compromise Between Liberty and Security
Considering the specified obstacles to establishing new regulations for the government to control social media for preventing hate crimes and terrorism, a compromise between this necessity and people’s needs is required. In this case, the main suggestion is to allow the authorities to perform this task but limit it to potentially dangerous ideas rather than oppressing meaningful conversations (Arnold, 2018). It means that expressing one’s attitude in a chat is not a violation of the proposed rules, whereas the continuous promotion of a negative attitude towards various population groups in posts can be seen as inappropriate actions. In this situation, there is a need to clearly define what type of content should be avoided for guiding moderators in implementing measures for citizens’ security to maintain freedom and liberty.
Another approach is for finding common grounds on this proposal is the control over the activity of websites, which is intended for the profits of companies. Their policy seems to be controlled by the principle of Communications Decency, whereas constitutional limits, as per the First Amendment, are neglected (Peters, 2018). This situation indicates the lack of clarity concerning the liability of entities for the published information, whereas the only unchanged condition is financial benefits (Handeyside, 2018). In this area, a compromise is in the clarification that the protection of speech is not the same as an “intentional infliction of emotional distress” or harassment and should be viewed as a violation rather than a norm (Peters, 2018). This outcome is possible only if the government interferes, which means that the provision of security implies greater federal control.
In conclusion, the regulation of social media at the federal level is necessary for preventing hate crimes and terrorism. This opinion is supported by the evidence of present-day companies, which are the ones who benefit from inappropriate advertisements in the end. In this case, profitability is conflicting with people’s security, which is unacceptable for everyone’s wellbeing. Moreover, the neglect of similarities between traditional newspapers and online platforms and the lack of the rules for the latter worsens the problem. These two factors indicate the need to find a compromise between the interests of citizens in maintaining their freedom and liberty and the government. It can be performed through developing methods for classifying data and ensuring their correspondence to the essential constitutional provisions.
Arnold, A. (2018). Do we really need to start regulating social media? Forbes. Web.
Aslund, A. (2017). Regulate social media — just like other media. The Hill. Web.
Chiara, A. (2018). Three social media regulations the US needs to import from Europe. The Hill. Web.
Handeyside, H. (2018). We’re demanding the government come clean on surveillance of social media. The ACLU. Web.
Leetaru, K. (2018). Should social media be allowed to profit from terrorism and hate speech? Forbes. Web.
Peters, J. (2018). How the law protects hate speech on social media. Columbia Journalism Review. Web.
Robinson, N. (2018). Why can’t Facebook and Twitter be more transparent about free speech? The Guardian. Web.
The Editorial Board. (2018). Resist calls for regulating social media giants. The Orange County Register. Web.
Yaraghi, N. (2018). Regulating free speech on social media is dangerous and futile. Brookings. Web.