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Free Speech Regulation on Social Media

For users, social networks have been platforms for the free expression of their opinions since their appearance. Nevertheless, in recent years, such a position has become less and less entitled to exist. The point is the regulation of social networks by the state and the sites themselves. Even though some countries actively support the position of freedom of speech for their citizens, it should still be monitored and regulated in social networks.

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With the advent of the Internet, users can communicate from different parts of the world, read news, transmit a large amount of information quickly and unhindered and enter into various kinds of conflicts. Interstate conflicts include contradictions between states that lead to the development of political, economic, territorial, and other disputes (Sorabji, 2020). The Internet is an effective means of ideological influence on significant masses of the population of another country. There are also economic conflicts between enterprises. Competition in business has never been conducted only by natural methods. The Internet provides new means for achieving competitive struggles such as competitive intelligence, disinformation of rival clients, and discrediting competitors.

Another group of conflicts on the Internet is personal conflicts. The involvement of people in illegal activities, the psychological impact on children and youth, the collection of personal data, and their use for selfish purposes are the opportunities that the Internet provides for dishonest users. Political conflicts within the country are also generated by the Internet. The state, represented by the persons of the leaders, the leadership of public organizations, and the management of enterprises, is interested in the loyal attitude of the relevant groups of people to them (Segado-Boj & Díaz-Campo, 2020). In some cases, they do not want certain information to reach people so that people can openly express their opinions.

Restrictions related to interstate conflicts are necessary to ensure national security for the country’s residents. The relationship between the state and enterprises can be divided into several types. To support domestic enterprises doing business via the Internet, the state should introduce restrictions to protect them from cyber-attacks. The interaction of the state and enterprises distributing information on the Internet involves the introduction of restrictions by the state on the content of the disseminated information. Concerning enterprises engaged in connecting users to the Internet and providing online platforms, the state regulates their activities following the adopted laws.

Regarding the country’s citizens, the state considers it possible to restrict access to information on the Internet, justifying this by protecting, primarily, children from the harmful influence of substandard information. The relationship between enterprises providing information services to users and users also presupposes the possibility of introducing restrictions on the information provided. This is due to the behavior of the management of these enterprises, which, as a rule, is influenced by government officials or reacts to the political situation.

Today, there is practically no state in the world that does not apply the practice of setting restrictions on Internet use. The degree of prohibiting effects varies widely. If the technologies implementing the Internet themselves are neutral, then their application is related to the general features of the national political system. Therefore, legislation on Internet regulation is determined by political objectives. Thus, the rules for using technologies in the Network have a national-political connotation.

A significant problem is the regulation of users on the Internet. This function is performed by regulators, whose roles are played by large IT corporations such as Google, Facebook, and others, but their activities are practically not controlled by anyone. In certain political situations, even the governments of individual countries cannot counteract them. Clearly, the owners of these corporations are subordinate to the Government of the land of which they are citizens. Therefore, they carry out the function of regulating the users of their systems by the instructions of the relevant government officials. The solution to the problem of controlling large IT corporations could be to divide them into parts – this would create a situation for competition.

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Currently, one of the most liberal approaches to Internet regulation is considered the approach implemented in the United States. Thanks to the First Amendment to the US Constitution, laws restricting freedom of speech cannot be passed in the country. Therefore, Internet regulation is limited to protecting personal information, copyright, and fair competition. Despite this, the issues of regulating access to information and traffic control in the Network by special services are solved in the interests of the country’s leadership due to the existence of laws on countering terrorist activities. In addition, the political elite has economic and political levers of pressure on large companies actively involved in supporting the Internet.

Summing up, it should be noted that the Internet is a complex multidimensional system in which contradictory processes are simultaneously implemented, such as free access to information and segmentation of the global Network. In addition, these processes can also include the regulation of access to information, content filtering, the use of the Internet as a political tool, etc. Thanks to this inconsistency, the system will exist and develop. Emerging new technologies will pose new challenges. The issues of regulation on the Internet will be actively discussed at the state and public levels.

References

Segado-Boj, F. & Díaz-Campo, J. (2020). Social media and its intersections with free speech, freedom of information and privacy. Icono, 18(1), 231-255. doi: 10.7195/ri 14.v18i1.1379

Sorabji, R. (2020). Free speech on social media: How to protect our freedoms from social media that are funded by trade in our personal data. Social Philosophy and Policy, 37(2), 209-236. doi:10.1017/S0265052521000121

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StudyCorgi. 2023. "Free Speech Regulation on Social Media." January 10, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/free-speech-regulation-on-social-media/.

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