Content moderation, or more the lack thereof, has become a contentious topic of debate. On one hand, the lack of moderation enables freedom of speech and expression; an value inherent in democratic practice which has the capacity to spark social movements. On the other hand, it allows the spread of harmful content which can enable toxic and hateful ideologies that influence subversive real world behaviours.
The Great Debate.
An example of such debate would be the contention around the banning of Donald Trump, from social media platform Facebook. The former U.S president was condemmed for his sociopolitical commentary in the late months of 2020, and was accused of insighting the Capitol Riots in January 2021. Surveys of U.S citizens revealed an almost equal split in opinions as to whether or not he should be banned from Facebook.
Black Lives Matter.
An example of how the spread of content on social media platforms enables freedom of speech and expression and the ways in which provocative content can encourage social movements is the circulation of the police body-cam footage of the arrest and subsequent death of George Floyd in 2020. The footage was acclaimed for revealing the mistreatment of people of colour in the U.S at the hands of law enforcement. It sparked the Black Lives Matter movement which promoted the equal treatment of people of colour across the globe.
The Spread of Hate.
Contrarily, it was a lack of moderation that resulted in the 17 minute Facebook live stream posted by the gunman responsible for the 2019 Christchurch terrorist shooting at a Mosque. The graphic video sparked conversations about the capacity of social media platforms in enabling the spread of terrorist ideologies. Facebook was subject to global criticism resulting in the enforcement of stricter content guidelines rolled accross the platform in the months following the attack.
Source list (APA 7th)
Anderson, M. (2021, May 5). Americans divided on whether Trump should be permanently banned from social media. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2021/05/05/americans-divided-on-whether-trump-should-be-permanently-banned-from-social-media/
CBS Interactive. (n.d.). The global impact of George Floyd: How black lives matter protests shaped movements around the world. CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/george-floyd-black-lives-matter-impact/
Duke, J. (2019, March 17). Facebook under global government pressure after Christchurch livestream. The Sydney Morning Herald. https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/facebook-under-global-government-pressure-after-christchurch-livestream-20190317-p514xs.html