Free Speech and Hate Speech

There’s been some stuff in the news lately about some of the web’s biggest platforms (Microsoft, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter) agreeing to do more to tackle hate speech online. Already on Twitter there is a trending hashtag: #Istandwithhatespeech.

The backlash to the Big Four’s move is two-fold. Some genuinely fear this is oppressing free speech and the right to be critical of other ideas – others are seemingly angry they won’t be able to say what they want with consequence anymore. If you search Twitter for that hashtag you’ll see exactly what I mean.

I’ve tended to run a reasonably loose ship when it comes to comments and moderation here. Anyone can submit a comment, and the chances are I’ll let it through (unless it’s really offensive). I do know that if someone trolls me and I block the comment, they’ll pop up on some other corner of the web, knowing they face no consequences to their actions. They cannot be held to account. This is annoying with the trolls – it is downright scary with those who are openly racist, sexist and bigoted.

Block them on Twitter or Facebook and they’ll simply start over with someone else. They abuse the privilege of free speech, making a mockery of it. This is why I am in favour of this new measure. It will hopefully force people to think before they post. If actions suddenly have consequences, they might stop to reflect upon them.