Your View: Free Speech on the Internet

Ryan Redding

​Free Speech is something that Americans are very prideful about. Since this country was founded, no matter how skewed someone’s views may be, everyone in America is entitled to his or her own opinion. With the recent boom in popularity of the internet however, American’s First Amendment right could suddenly be in jeopardy.

​White Supremacists are a hot topic right now in America. With the recent riots in Charlottesville, many are agreeance that this is a hate group that should be eliminated from existence. According to the Washington Post, that is exactly what the internet is trying to do. “[Silicon Valley is] choking off the ability of hate groups to raise money online, removing them from Internet search engines, and preventing some sites from registering at all.” Companies such as Google, GoDaddy and PayPal are now deciding to take a hands-on approach to content posted using their services by making it much more difficult to for alt-right groups to reach mass audiences.

​That may be great news in this situation. A group that promotes hatred against other races deserves to be abolished. But when a group who is voicing their opinion gets silenced, is this a violation of their right to free speech? It is understandable that these companies do not want hate speech on their servers because it causes conflict, which could reflect poorly on the business. Free speech however is the ability to speak your mind no matter how twisted your views.

​When restrictions like this are placed on groups, the group will not simply disappear, they will just find another way to reach people. At least on public domains these groups can be easily viewed by everyone, including authorities. Now they will be forced to create their own ways to reach others, ways that most likely will be harder to track.

​With today’s generation, the majority of information in found online. This information is what we base all of our opinions on. When there are major organizations that control most of that information, they can do dismiss whatever they see fit and try to form the opinion they would like. This is very similar to the way the Chinese government controls its citizen’s use of the internet. While they permit them to stay connected with the outside world, they preserve a politically closed off culture in which there is no free speech or democracy.

​In order to stay a free country that allows the thoughts and ideas of every citizen to be equally heard, we must allow ourselves to hear everyone. Whenever we block a certain point of view out because it does not reflect our own, we are disgracing the ideas this country was founded on. Companies like Google and Apple (that together control 98 percent of the mobile market) should be held accountable for silencing anyone’s opinion, no matter how misguided it is.

I asked some students on campus how they feel about free speech on the internet:

1. Do you believe the internet censors any information in America?

2. Should hate groups, such as White Supremacist, be censored on the internet?

3. Do you believe censoring hate groups is a violation of free speech?

Alexandra Foster

Sophomore

Exercise science major

1. I think a little bit, but mostly people are able to say what they want. If it’s a controversial topic they’ll have consequences from the public, but there technically isn’t any hard consequences.

2. [Yes] because to a certain extent it could be considered terrorism and that is a national security issue.

3. No, because some of the threats are terroristic. It is a safety issue, you are threatening a group of people.

Deffanie Rawls

Junior

Biology Pre-Med major

1. No, I have a background in IT and as long as there is a thumbprint somewhere out there, it will always be there no matter how much you delete it.

2. No, I feel that we need that in this country. I know it’s a bad thing, but I feel like everybody has a voice and if we get down to the root problem I feel like we all would have something in common.

3. I think so. I’ve been in the military and I fought for everyone to have the right to say how they feel. I feel that they have every right to say how they feel as well as any other person. I don’t feel they should be stopped because of what they believe in.

Zachary Daley

Junior

Criminal justice major

1. Yes, just with the university alone they censor which websites you are not allowed to see, even if it is just your personal computer.

2. No, I don’t think any hate group should be censored. It’s free speech. If you don’t want to look at it don’t Google it.

3. Yes.

Kalan Mcneese

Junior

Graphic design major

1. I feel they do…I feel like there is some stuff out there that isn’t the entire truth, it’s hard to tell.

2. I feel like they should not be censored, [the hate groups] are wrong but we need to know about it. If they push stuff under the rug nothing is going to get done about it.

3. I feel it kind of is, they have an opinion, everyone has an opinion no matter what. Some opinions could be wrong but [you should not censor them].