Social networking & free speech

Ninety-four percent of American high school students use some form of social media. In this speech from re:publica in Berlin, Jillian C. York, Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, talks about the free speech and censorship policies of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Blogspot, and YouTube, and how they impacted activists in the Middle East. Each company starts with similar, and sometimes conflicting, interests:

1) an economic incentive to attract more users,
2) a legal and moral commitment to free speech,
3) a legal and moral objection to “offensive” content,
4) trouble defining what constitutes “offensive” content, and
5) limited staff (especially Arabic-speaking staff) to sort out problems on a case-by-case basis.

Each company handles this conflict somewhat differently, which is the subject of York’s speech and a subject high school students are qualified to judge and discuss, from their own experience, even if they haven’t been following political events abroad:

York also blogs about the “nym wars” (controversy over whether Google+ should ban anonymous and pseudonymous accounts) and describes what companies do right.

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