Social Media: Channel for Free Speech or the Catalyst to Political Unrest?

We’re all aware of the political unrest presently unfolding in the Middle East. Most of us, connected and worldly university students that we are, probably found out through our constant and beloved social media sites. It’s how we share ideas, current events,and now political operations around the world, and why wouldn’t we tune in to hear the latest news?

Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Youtube are facing issues regarding their policies of sharing and political neutrality. These sites are increasingly being used by activists and pro-democracy forces, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. Faced with posts urging rebel action, videos of rallies and military practices, groups uniting anti-government communities, and photos of civil unrest and destruction, social media is being forced to elucidate the limits of the fuzzy gray area between free speech and, well, TMI. Unless calls to violence or violent footage’s involved (which are taken down by the sites because they are against policy), socialmedia conversation remains in shades of gray.

Current turmoil has put social media companies in a delicate position: how to
accommodate the growing use of social media for political purposes while remaining neutral and maintaining the policies that granted their services international popularity. The rules are not so black and white, especially when facing these issues on a global scale.

Can a social network provide neutral service when navigating the treacherous territory of international politics? How much information is too much to share on social media, and who owns it? Who has the right to determine speech limits when the channel crosses the borders of time and space? When the issues discussed have the potential to overthrow governments?

Stay logged on and we’ll find out.

Written by Gabriella Chiera.

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