Emad Barsoum writes: Social Media Platforms: The New Guardians of Ethics or Threat to Freedom of Speech?
This week, the world witnessed the birth of a new Social Media Platform launched by a giant in such industry and the tech domain. Although the new platform does not bring any new ideas or themes, it’s a mimic of an older renowned platform, which is well-known for playing vital roles in politics.
In recent years, the owners of some social media platforms have assumed a role similar to the guardians of ethics and protectors of religions, drawing comparisons to historical institutions like the Inquisition, or even the contemporary acts of McCarthyism, fueling concerns about the erosion of fundamental democratic values such as freedom of speech, democracy, and freedom of expression, and the separation of the state from religion.
These actions triggered concerns regarding tech giants’ growing influence and potential to create discrimination and segregation within society, thus, throwing away all sacrifices and losses that humanity suffered to achieve freedom, democracy, equality, and secularity.
The decision by some social media platform owners to assume the role of moral guardians has raised serious concerns about the oppression of free expression by imposing rigid rules and employing censorship mechanisms, and regulating the content shared on the platforms, restricting the free exchange of ideas and opinions. This approach contradicts the very essence of freedom of speech, a core pillar of democratic societies that allows for a diverse range of voices and perspectives to be heard.
Of additional concern is the influence imposed by individuals with regressive and radical ideas, who are being utilized to shape and enforce these censorship policies. The involvement of such individuals further highlights the potential bias and agenda-driven nature of the platforms’ approach. Some social media platforms risk suppressing progressive and dissenting viewpoints by granting these individuals significant decision-making power and enforcing a narrative that favors specific religious or political groups and ideologies.
Freedom of speech and expression are foundational pillars of any democratic society, enabling diverse voices to be heard and fostering open dialogue. By assuming the role of moral guardians, social media platforms have the power to shape public discourse and limit the perspectives available to users, effectively suppressing diverse opinions.
It is imperative to recognize the importance of maintaining the principles of freedom of speech, democracy, and freedom of expression, even in the digital age. Rather than assuming the role of inquisitors, social media platforms should focus on fostering transparency and diversity of thought.
Open dialogues and inclusive discussions cannot only promote understanding and bridge ideological gaps but also address the challenges posed by harmful content, thereby strengthening democracy in the digital age and preserving the gains made in separating religion from the state, politics, and all human arts and sciences.