The Two Sides of Free Speech in Social Media

social media

Social media is a powerful tool of communication. It allows everyone from all sides of the platform to express themselves. Generally speaking, this is a good way to make the freedom of speech and information accessible to all. However, this perspective only works under the light of positive social media use. In social media, free speech is for all, which means every perspective from both positive and negative side is allowed to have a voice.

When you are on a social media platform, you have the choice to become anonymous or not. Becoming anonymous generally means you will most likely not be held accountable of your actions online. This means that anonymous users online tend to express critical opinions to the public as they technically have no liability in case their publicized opinion goes under the judgment of the public. This is the opposite of becoming an identified social media user. If you publicize your identity through your social media account, you become accountable for all your actions online. Your identity can be labeled by the public based on your actions online and in real life—this comes in the form of online praises, critiques, and hate.

Free speech is a double-edged sword to the public. Both identified and anonymous users share the freedom of speech when they express themselves online. Both users may express negative opinions online and it would still be considered as an act of exercising the freedom of speech. Positive opinions affect readers positively, while negative opinions do the opposite.

Reading an opinion online may change a reader's view about a certain topic because opinions can bring up information that may be unknown by the time the reader decides what their view is. Changing opinions when presented with new information should be a normal act to all people, especially when the new information is true.

The only problem with changing views is that the information from an online opinion may not be fully credible. For example, I can post information online and state that it is true, even if it's not. Everyone can do this due to free speech, which means there can be a huge number of perspectives deceived by misleading information online. Changing your opinion because you believe in new information which turns out to be wrong makes your perspective a victim of misleading information. 

The misuse of free speech is blatant online. Most of its victims are those who cannot fact-check information that they read and potentially believe online. Free speech and anonymity are the double-edged swords of online information. Free speech was created to encourage people in expressing their opinions online without the fear of receiving unjust consequences. The goal of free speech has been achieved, but it has also created an opportunity for those who want to spread misinformation without experiencing consequences.