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  1. I have a lot of mixed feelings regarding censorship, but my stance at this point in time is that if we (or the government, whomever is deemed the deciding authority in this scenario) start censoring certain things, then where do we stop? How do we all decide at what point censorship stops being a protective measure and becomes a weapon against free speech? I don’t trust that whomever is deciding on what to censor and what not to censor will be morally fit to find the absolute best balance that is beneficial to the public in every instance. For that reason, I don’t think videos of crimes being committed, or animated/video game versions of the videos, should be censored on social media. Many social media sites already have a system in place where videos that contain sensitive materials that could disturb people or “send the wrong message” are preceded with a blurred version of the image and a message that lets the viewer decide whether they are prepared to view the item. I think that generally works out pretty well, and I am partial to the idea of letting individuals make their own decisions about what they are willing and prepared to see online. Furthermore, if social media sites were to censor all videos of things like property destruction, violence, theft, etc, then a lot of important world events wouldn’t be able to reach the eyes of millions of people as they are able to do now. One of the most crucial and wryly beneficial factors of social media sites, in my opinion, is that they give the general public of the world the ability to share important videos of things like protests and riots, crimes being committed, and inhumane or unjust acts of violence or hatred. Social media’s ability to spread videos and images of these events all over the world in turn gives us the ability to band together to do what we can to fix it, and if those videos were censored, we as a people would lose a lot of our civil functionality. It’s our duty and privilege as US citizens and citizens of the world to uphold our social contract and call out injustice when we see it, and if the evidence of that injustice were kept from us, we would remain in ignorance forever.
  2. My opinions about censorship as I stated in the previous paragraph do change a bit here. Where my feelings start to become complicated is when hate speech and bullying are brought into the question, because I most definitely think that online forums and social media sites would be far more pleasant and productive experiences if the ability to call people insults and slurs or say things that do nothing but spread hatred were not allowed at all. Like with potentially disturbing videos, most social media sites interfere to a degree when users post things that are hateful or harmful to another person, or they give users the ability to report the offender/offending post. I do think social media sites should put a filter on what users are allowed to post so that slurs of any sort are not allowed, but past that point, it is difficult for an online algorithm to go through each post and determine what is classified as harmful language or bullying. These situations can be highly complicated and subjective, and it’s easy even for a directly involved person to miss something due to lack of context, so imagine how confusing it could be for a technological system or an employee with very little grasp of the whole situation to analyze it! I think a more impactful approach would be to address all kinds of bullying and harmful language from the source, in person, rather than leaving it up to social media sites. These sites are not the social end-all-be-all, and I think we’d all do well to remember that once in a while. It’s really frustrating but unfortunately, banning harmful language from social media is not going to change the minds of those who were using the harmful language, so this might need to be a more large-scale societal effort if we wanted to eradicate that kind of hatred altogether. But I’m getting ahead of myself- sorry.
  3. This aligns closely with the previous question about bullying/harmful language/hate speech, as symbols can often carry just as much power as words. I think there are a few symbols that almost everyone in their right mind can agree are harmful and should not be available on social media at all, but past that, there are so many different sides to every argument that if social media sites wanted to ban every single symbol that could potentially offend someone, they would have to ban pretty much all of them. I think the best system would be to ban the few symbols that the general public can agree contain nothing but harmful messages, and after that, the social media sites should just pay attention to how people react to the posting of certain symbols. So for instance, if someone posted a peace sign (totally hypothetical, I just picked a random symbol) and the social media site received hundreds of messages from users saying that peace sign made them upset and why it made them upset, then they could remove that post and let the poster know they’re not allowed to post that symbol again. This is by no means a perfectly effective system, but I think it would just get carried away so quickly if the sites were to start trying to ban everything that could be considered offensive or unwelcome.
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