Bullying, harassment, violent content, hate, porn and other problematic content circulates on digital platforms. Why did these happened? Who should be responsible for stopping the spread of this content and how?

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Introduction

In today’s society, with the advent of the Web 2.0 era, various digital platforms have been created and used. Since the anonymity, immediacy, and global nature of the internet, hate actions and speeches have become more easily perpetrated and disseminated through it(Banks, 2010). Many of these comments will have a very bad impact, intensifying the conflicts between users and triggering wars. In addition to these remarks, there will be many pornographic and violent content in many poorly regulated media platforms, which will not only cause harm to some groups but also cause some illegal acts. This paper proposes that Internet regulation is essential. Users, companies and the government are all responsible for preventing the spread of these contents. Bad behaviour and speech on the Internet need to be restrained and improved by the three parties.

Self-restraint of users

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There are many users of social media platforms. According to statistics, there are about 4.48 billion people in the world using social media. Social media is a powerful communication tool, which can enable people from different countries and cultural circles in various regions of the world to communicate in a very short time. This also brings problems. Most media platforms support users’ freedom of speech and information, but free speech is for all, which means every perspective from both positive and negative sides is allowed to have a voice. (GAVINN, 2022) Negative comments will hurt some users, not only because of negative emotions and psychological trauma but also because of some serious consequences. For example, in a tragic event triggered by cyberbullying, Liu, a poor high school student whose foster parents died of illness, found his biological parents after seeking help online. His biological parents had a conflict with him. The media interpreted and published his remarks maliciously, so he was subjected to cyberbullying and finally chose to commit suicide.

Such a tragedy may make some users regret and behave badly without knowing the situation, but if users can abide by their moral bottom line and make comments after full consideration and understanding, these times may not happen. If you want to reduce the bad behaviours and comments on social media platforms, users themselves may have to be more disciplined to fundamentally solve the problem. In addition, the platform can also guide and prompt users to be cautious.

Self restraint of the platform

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The responsibility of tech companies stretches well beyond protecting the public from objectionable content(Martin, Kelsey& Ryan, 2021). The management method of social media platform is closely related to the frequency of bad comments and behaviors on the platform. Bullying, sharing, violet content, ate, porn and other problematic content may harm some users and make them give up using such platforms. However, if the control is excessive, wrong judgment and punishment may occur, reducing the experience of some users. In order to create a more harmonious social media environment, the platform must find the most appropriate balance point.
Most platforms use artificial intelligence and employee inspection to restrict bad information. Generally, the platform will set up a series of punishment systems. The content will be detected by AI first, and the obvious sensitive content will be blocked, deleted or punished. In some complex cases, employees need to review again. The setting of the punishment system, as well as the standards and frequency of the audit, is what social media platforms really need to explore. Find a proper way of supervision, and the bad comments will be greatly reduced. In addition, the globalization platform also needs to comply with different policies of different governments, and the management of the platform needs to be combined with government regulations and provisions.

Government regulation

Because social media platforms are relatively free of speech and support anonymous content sending, occasionally some criminal acts will spread, or some statements that infringe the rights and interests of some countries will appear. At this time, the government cannot sit idly by. In recent years, many countries have successively adopted legal provisions on network regulation to constrain Internet companies and urge them to improve these behaviors. At the same time, in many other aspects, such as national defense and security, criminal acts and other relevant legal provisions, Internet communication has also been added. For example, Germany, the European Union, Australia and other countries and regions have formulated laws and regulations on illegal content of social media platforms. If there is insufficient platform supervision, they will be fined a huge amount. In addition to monitoring Internet companies, some countries will control social platforms from the source, that is, the government has the right to access platform related data, and some illegal acts may be directly monitored and controlled by the government. For example, Russia’s data laws from 2015 required social media companies to store any data about Russia on servers within the country (BBC News, 2020)

As mentioned above, the platform will find a balance between regulation and freedom of speech due to user experience. The same is true for government regulation. Due to some political factors and national security considerations, some countries have very strict regulations on the platform. For example, China has hundreds of thousands of online police who monitor social media platforms and screen information deemed politically sensitive (BBC News, 2020). Especially in recent years, because the Chinese government has very strict control over COVID-19, many people will express their anger on the platform, but these comments will eventually be deleted, because the government does not want too many negative comments about COVID-19. If you use a Chinese social media platform such as Weibo, you will find that some sensitive content will be deleted and blocked in a very short time, and the publisher’s account will be banned, which has caused dissatisfaction among many users. Excessive regulation will lead to negative emotions among the public, while too easy regulation will make many bad comments difficult to control. Finding a balance between regulation and freedom of expression is a problem that Internet companies and governments need to seriously consider.

Summary

To sum up, the good environment of the Internet can not be maintained by one party’s efforts, but depends on the user’s consciousness, platform supervision and government supervision. Users can prevent bad comments under the guidance of the platform and self moral restraint. Internet companies can use artificial intelligence and employee audit to filter bad comments according to government requirements. The government can specify stricter regulations and find common ground between regulation and freedom of speech.

 

Reference list:

Banks, J. (2010). Regulating hate speech online. International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, 24(3), 233–239. https://doi.org/10.1080/13600869.2010.522323

Flew, T., Martin, F., & Suzor, N. (2019). Internet regulation as media policy: Rethinking the question of digital communication platform governance. Journal of Digital Media & Policy, 10(1), 33–50. https://doi.org/10.1386/jdmp.10.1.33_1

Gavinn. (2022, April 2). The two sides of free speech in Social Media. Voices of Youth. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from https://www.voicesofyouth.org/blog/two-sides-free-speech-social- media 

James, G. (2022, February 1). Chinese teenager’s suicide puts cyberbullying and unethical journalism in spotlight. The China Project. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from https:// thechinaproject.com/2022/01/24/chinese-teenagers-suicide-puts-cyberbullying-and- unethical-journalism-in-spotlight/ 

team, R. C. (2020, February 12). Social Media: How do other governments regulate it? BBC News. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-47135058