In both traditional news sources and more modern social media, there have been many stories regarding censorship of information. A very recent example is the lack of news coverage regarding the instances of in mainland China and Sudan. Another example from social media is YouTube refusing to take down videos containing anti-gay slurs (1).
Looking at social media, one of the main reasons that it exists is to be a platform for people to stand on and share their personal opinions, thoughts and what they ate for breakfast. It was not intended to be a reliable source of information and even nowadays, if you cite Facebook as your source, people will be less likely to believe it. Yet why are we letting Social Media outlets such as Facebook and YouTube censor our content?
For instance, June marked Pride month. During the month, there were an extraordinary number of companies in the United States and the U.K who released specific products targeted towards gay pride, and singers who released songs about how you should be able to love freely and be supported for it. However, I ask you this - is there an irony in telling people to stand up for what they believe in and then censoring those who do? I’m not saying that people who post hurtful gay slurs about a gay couple is in any way acceptable, but at the end of the day, free speech and personal responsibility are entwined. One thing my mum said to me before I got Facebook was that if I did not feel that I could handle myself in a mature manner when dealing with people who had alternate opinions or who were being hurtful then I should not be on Facebook. I believe that this is a standard to which people should live by. If there’s a famous social media star who is behaving in a racist, sexist or homophobic manner then they should be called out on it by the public. People should stop paying attention to them, following them and in a way, censor them for themselves. It is not the responsibility of a company to control what grown adults say on their platform.
Turning to look at traditional media, this censorship is where the biggest issue comes down to availability of information. Many people reading this might ask themselves, what is happening in China and Sudan? I certainly did when my friends asked me my opinions on the situations. There is a scare amount of news coverage on the situation, with the biggest issue being that coverage isn't being aired on television or shared on social media. Therefore, information about international affairs is only available to those who witness it or who do extensive research and therefore not available to the general public. It falls on the responsibility of journalists to report on what is happening and serious cases should be reported with a larger volume then what they currently are. With the greatest of respect of British politics, the Conservative leadership race is not more important than humanitarian crises occuring across various countries in the world.
At the end of the day, the world is what it is and my simple opinion won’t change anything. The one thing I would want people to take away from this is to take some responsibility in what you put online, checking your facts before repeating them and realising the power of the people. After all, you can’t be an influencer if you have no one to influence.