Free and Anonymous Speech

One of the founding beliefs of the United States of America is that people have the freedom of speech. Not everyone in the world is fortunate enough to have this freedom because of where they live, but the freedom of speech is not always being limited by strict laws or regulations in other countries, it is sometimes being limited by a population’s information illiteracy. Dennis Reineck and Jan Lublinski dive deep into this theory in their published research paper, “Media and Information Literacy: A Human Rights-based Approach in Developing Countries.”

Reineck and Lublinski discuss the importance of “media and information literacy” in developing countries to create a strong human rights argument. Although the authors add the specific term “media” to information literacy, the heart of their argument is in the same place as someone arguing the value of having an information literate population in general. Early on in their research paper, Reineck and Lublinski say, “Media and Information Literacy (MIL), defined as the ability to access, analyze, and create media, is a prerequisite for citizens to realize their rights to freedom of information and expression.” This statement brings to light a whole new argument for information literacy, the argument that in order to fully utilize one’s freedom of speech, they must be information literate. Reineck and Lublinski go on to talk about how being info literate helps people make their own educated decisions and push the importance of people contributing to and advancing information literacy projects for others that are not privileged to have hardly any amount of information literacy.

People that are able to take the freedom of speech for granted argue that being able to communicate anonymously is yet another freedom included in their freedom of speech. With anonymity comes benefits and drawback for the community utilizing this freedom. In Michael Froomkin’s text “ From Anonymity to Identification” that we read for class, Froomkin weighs the good and bad that comes from the affordance of anonymity online. The benefits of being able to be anonymous online, as Froomkin states, include being able to address sensitive topics, to have more open discussions, to have more personal protection, and to while blow. The cons of anonymity according to Froomkin are that anonymity reduces inhibitions, allows people to cause more harm, removes people’s accountability, and gives people the ability to evade prosecution.

By removing peoples accountability, online anonymity encourages people to post content that is not of as high quality as they normally would. This adds to the high amount of garbage that is already online as we talked about when analysing Dan Gilmore’s text “Mediactive” in my second blog post. For people to most effectively use their freedom of anonymity, others need to respect their anonymous content, and for people to be able to confidently consume anonymous content, they must be information literate because all other quality assurance systems are removed when someone’s identity is unattached to their content. This is yet another reason that today’s world needs to be information literate.

Work Cited

Froomkin, A. M. (2015). From Anonymity to Identification. Journal of Self-Regulation and Regulation.

Reineck, Dennis, and Jan Lublinski. “Media and Information Literacy: A Human Rights-based Approach in Developing Countries.” DW Akademie (2015): n. pag. Oct. 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.