Social Media Morality

Social media has permeated all facets of daily life of a large section of the world community. The role of the corporation becomes pivotal in upholding the standards during exchanges of communication between millions upon millions of users. Hence there is an onus on the corporate entity to uphold a morality that oversees the actions of countless users. That is always going to be a tough ask. How do you balance all providing a guiding code without infringing on the rights of users?  In affect the members of the online community who form legitimise and validate the social media platform, need to be at the centre of concern for those organisations.

Having a monopoly on something in the corporate world usually translates to responsibility and adhering to a social contract. Unfortunately a lot of online based companies such as Facebook and Twitter have proven that power indeed corrupts. They have to decide if they are a platform or a broadcaster. They are governed by different rules. If you are a platform then you should not censor views. Unless they call for violence, otherwise free speech should prevail. However Facebook has regularly censored free speech a number of subjective measures. One of those is through encouraging members to report others if they find something offensive. This in turn opens up a Pandora’s Box of issues. Anyone can be reported for anything, and being found guilty means is essentially a kangaroo court decision as any right to appeal is deleted. No response ever given to said appeal. The penalty can range from a twenty four hour ban to three consecutive monthly bans.

What gives the right to those companies to censor views or ban users? Because of the overarching market saturation Twitter and Facebook have should not give them the right to ban members for life, as there was a case with Twitter and YouTube many times. The social isolation caused by this, is not only at a cost to the individual users, its also a cost to the community at large. For example, the broadcaster Alex Jones has had his channel deleted off  YouTube several times. Granted, his content is controversial and really ‘out there’ but despite this its important that all views are represented and any banning of opinions will encourage them festering underground. It is for the interest of the community to that a range of opinions is entertained and debated.

The social media companies have as part of their mission statement an expressed desire to serve the community, adhere to a series of standards.  They need to make sure that all this inclusiveness and good will is more than just sanctimonious virtue singalling. The is a pattern that those organisations follow, and it involves having a great idea of an virtual community, and gaining popularity then instating a set of laws that tend to be fairly conservative and no longer look after the community as much as their shareholders. As if the entity became too big for its own good. This is akin to multi national companies in other sectors such as, in recent times, banking. As we saw through Australia’s Royal Commission the is a level of arrogance  that leads one to confirm the fact that power corrupts and these social companies need to adhere to a set guidelines they themselves set. At the very least.

Social media companies do provide an essential service, but they cannot be guided by a sense of their own morality, they have to fulfil public expectations, uphold democratic values, free speech. And redefine their role: Are they a platform or a broadcaster. These are seperate role. State that you have an agenda, and keep instating political correctness or be what you set out to be and let the users form their own meaning through interaction.

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