Maybe we shouldn’t delegate our freedom of speech to social networks…
journalism festival

Probably, Jeff Bezos has not been the object of racist or sexist violence in real life. Marginalized people and communities don’t have the luxury of choosing who they ‘invite to their dinner parties’ but experience direct, physical violence on the street everyday. Research shows that higher levels of tolerance for hate speech and verbal discrimination lower the threshold to actual acts of physical violence — especially against migrants and refugees. The ‘social indifference’ of public opinion to violence and discrimination also grows as a result of becoming used to hearing / reading hate speech.

Obviously, the solution is not censorship but media literacy. Technology per se does not increase democracy, equality or human rights. More media literacy — in schools and elsewhere — would help make users aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Keeping the conversation within a ‘safe circle’ is one option, but doesn’t help increase dialogue or break down barriers. In that sense social media fails its potential and doesn’t function along transcultural lines — leaving especially young users the same choices teenagers have always had — avoid the groups bullying you, choose your ‘friends’ because they look and think like you.

Community media projects, regardless of platform or technology, are still revolutionary for their ability to bring different people and communities together, promoting dialogue, inclusion and media literacy.

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