We may soon be facing a huge moral dilemma…
YouTube has recently banned Sky News Australia for one week, preventing them from uploading any content to their channel there, essentially restricting their media reach and access, due to their dissemination of COVID misinformation.
Facebook have recently banned Donald Trump due to his social media opinions, and for allegedly stoking the ire of his supporters to such an extent that an assault was mounted upon the US Capitol.
While we may agree or disagree with these decisions and judgments, we cannot deny that cutting off anyone’s right to speak leads to something of a moral dilemma. How do we decide what can and cannot be said aloud? And do we truly want to live in a world where opinions are entirely filtered?
When a platform decides that an opinion is wrong, then are they acting as the ultimate judge and jury on that given subject? Does YouTube, by taking its stance against Sky News Australia, therefore see itself as a COVID authority?
However we may feel about Donald Trump, are we truly the guardians who get to decide whether or not this person’s opinions and thoughts can be heard int he world?
If Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or any other platform, decide to remove our ability to speak freely into the world because of something we have said, then we would no doubt be aghast at such a decision. The paradox lies in the fact that some use these channels for good, and some for bad. But depending on the views, experiences, beliefs, and in many cases, the political leanings of the platforms themselves, these opinions, good and bad, are being heavily regulated, meaning that the opinions and ideas currently being disseminated into the world are the end result of not a “good” or “bad” stance, but the opinion of one or more people.
And ultimately, is this right?
If we ever reach a point in the future where free speech has been removed entirely, then we as a society and a culture, will have an insurmountable problem. Once free speech has been removed, it can never be regained.
Free speech if something we must jealously guard, hold dear, and fight for if need be.
Who then, is the ultimate judge and jury. Who is right and wrong? Who gets to play God, and who does not?
Perhaps the solution lies in not the censure of voices, but in creating freely available resources so that we as a people can discover for ourselves just who is telling the truth, and then decide for ourselves, about the voices to which we devote our attention.
Or maybe, in order to achieve true free speech, the answer lies in creating our own platforms, no matter which form they take. Perhaps this is the way forward, and maybe also the reason why so many are now realising the value in direct connection with their audience – minus the middle man, who could, at any moment, remove the direct line between a voice and a mind.