“Cyber Violence”-Distortion of Freedom of Speech in the Internet Age

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Freedom of speech is a principle, which supports individuals or groups to express their views and opinions freely, without worrying about the consequences of any speech. In December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is a milestone in the history of human rights. It is mentioned in the declaration that people of any race, color, sex, language, religion, etc. have equal rights and freedoms (Tenhave & Patroneves, 2021). Freedom of speech is a sacred right enjoyed by citizens, but with the advent of the Internet era, citizens’ freedom of speech has also been endowed with new connotations and characteristics. With the wide popularization of Internet technology and application, the Internet is flooded with bad content such as violence, pornography, hatred, and discrimination. The violent content of the network is mainly presented in the form of words, pictures, etc., which seriously infringes on or damages life and health. In addition, there are acts such as beautifying, propagating, and inciting speech violence on the Internet, and they incite hatred and terrorism, which can be called cyber violence in a broad sense. With the wide application of the Internet, more and more people’s public discourse, and cultural and social interactions are transferred to the Internet, and these contents have become an important part of censorship (Gillespie, 2018, p. 6). Excessive depiction of violent content and plot will not only cause psychological discomfort to some adults, but also adversely affect the physical and mental health of teenagers, and have an indelible impact on their critical period of development. Secondly, the information on the Internet that beautifies violence and promotes violence will have a negative impact on the formation of teenagers’ correct values. In addition, illegal incitement to violence, hatred, pornography, terrorism, and other content will bring serious harm to public order and even national security.

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On October 14th, 2021, the news that Sulli, a Korean actress, died at home detonated the internet. Internet violence was considered by netizens to be the main killer of Shirley’s suicide, and even some Korean media called Sulli’s death a “social murder”. Subsequently, Shirley was suspected of suffering from depression during her lifetime which was disclosed by the media. Let more people believe that the cyber violence that Shirley suffered frequently during her lifetime made her suffer from cyber violence for a long time. No matter whether Shirley suffered from depression before her death or not, and what was the direct trigger for her suicide. It is undeniable that cyber violence has done serious harm to it objectively. Because of her bold and free dress and flamboyant attitude, Shirley was considered as “self-release” by the audience. She also attracted a steady stream of cyber violence and personal attacks. In a live broadcast of Shirley’s life, she even reluctantly appealed to netizens and fans in front of the camera: audience friends, please love me. People express their regret for the death of young people, but also set off a denunciation and resistance against cyber violence. In recent years, with the development of the Internet, cyber violence has gradually entered the public’s field of vision. It is mainly manifested in verbal violence and hostile behavior, which is based on a public discussion triggered by an event or a person. Shirley’s death once again awakened people’s debate on women’s “freedom to dress”, and to what extent women have “freedom to dress”? Whether you approve of what others want to express or not, you must never violate their due personal rights, and never attack them in a brutal and bullying way. Many people think that public figures are resistant to stress and will not be influenced by offensive remarks from ordinary people. But public figures are also sentient people. Just like ordinary people, they also have all the joys and sorrows of normal people, and they will be hurt by speech attacks. The public should not only bear the pressure brought by real life but also be hit by the comments on the Internet. When cyber violence gathers, the rude abuse of every netizen hits the hearts of public figures like a flood, and no matter how powerful people are, they may collapse. Media and communication policies are the core of many political and social problems facing contemporary society. The purpose of preventing riots, racial hatred, and cyber violence are to maintain public order and protect citizens from cyber violence (Picard, & Pickard, 2017, p. 27).

UNAMA FEATURED PHOTO: 22 June 2014” by UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

With the popularity of the Internet, cyber violence against women is becoming more and more common, and the number of victims is increasing. These behaviors not only do great harm to women but also do great harm to the atmosphere of the whole Internet. In the era of social media, cyberspace often becomes the origin, transit, and distribution center of language violence. The convenience of the internet makes it possible for strangers thousands of miles apart to swear at each other for the first time, which was unimaginable in the past. And the image on the screen makes the person who hurts the export feel that the other person is a living, warm life, is dignified and has human rights. The violent way of leaving messages on the Internet also makes us realize how much pressure a casual sentence will bring to another person. In 2015, UN Women released a report on Combating Cyber Violence against Women and Girls, which mentioned that two-thirds of women claimed that the Internet had brought them more freedom and opened up new spaces for their lives. But at the same time, 73% of women said that they had experienced some form of cyber violence, and the proportion was increasing with the development of new information technology, which shows that cyber gender violence is widespread and harmful. In July 2020, the World Wide Web Foundation counted the data on cyber violence. 52% of women and girls had experienced some form of cyber violence, and 87% of them thought that the problem of cyber violence was still worsening. At present, when the Internet and real life are intertwined, it is very important to eliminate gender-based violence on the Internet, which is related to the reality and future of each of us. In order to achieve this goal, we need to build a safe network environment where all women and girls can speak and communicate freely; At the same time, with the support of Internet tools, we can create a safe and realistic environment for women and girls, so that they can grow up healthily in this society. Nowadays, society is developing rapidly, and the social status of men and women is gradually improving, but this is a long process. Everyone needs a little patience, and on this basis, they should know how to respect and understand each other, so that the relationship between men and women and the whole society can be more harmonious and harmonious.


There are more and more cases of abuse of freedom of speech. As a public media, self-media should be governed by national laws and regulations. Therefore, strict ID authentication should be adopted for netizens, including the regulation and construction of a network real-name registration system. Secondly, legal sanctions. One of the key reasons for the frequent occurrence of network violence is that the illegal cost is too low. Political and legal departments should effectively supervise and restrict network behaviors, and bring network supervision and governance into the standardized track. Digital media and communication platform companies, namely Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc., should strengthen their control (Flew et al., 2019, p.34).


Flew, T., Martin, F., & Suzor, N. (2019). Internet regulation as media policy: Rethinking the question of digital communication platform governance. Journal Of Digital Media &Amp; Policy10(1), 33-50. https://doi.org/10.1386/jdmp.10.1.33_1

Gillespie, T. (2018). CHAPTER 1. All Platforms Moderate. In Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions That Shape Social Media (pp. 1-23). New Haven: Yale University Press. https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.sydney.edu.au/10.12987/9780300235029-001

Picard, & Pickard, V. (2017). Essential Principles for Contemporary Media and Communications Policymaking. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/our-research/essential-principles-contemporary-media-and-communications-policymaking

ten Have, H., & Patrão Neves, M. (2021). UDHR. Dictionary Of Global Bioethics, 59-59. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54161-3_28