Reading 09: Freedom of Speech

From the readings, what are the ethical, social, and moral concerns regarding online censorship? Should governments be able to suppress certain forms of speech? Should technology companies engage in the suppression of speech performed on their platforms?

Finally, is online censorship a concern to you? What do you think about the possibility that you may be living in a filter bubble?

The main concern about online censorship is that few people are aware to what extent the things they are researching are being censored. I knew that Google would censor for nudity and for certain things but I did not know that they would censor political things among others. In the main reading about Google by Robert Epstein, I learned the degree of which Google has the power over the details and the different ways it can use its power to keep companies or journal publishing things that will increase its own revenue. Google has so much power over what we see and what we are most likely to click on. The websites and webpages that appear on the first page of a Google search are those that will be able to get the most hits. What determines what is on the first page of a search? To my understanding, if you get on one of Google’s blacklists your website will no longer appear in the first page and therefore could loose a lot of income and eventually close. After doing these readings, I started to really think about what am I really being exposed to? I know that the things that pop up to me or my suggested readings all come from what I usually search, how can I break this? How can I prevent from getting biased information of certain topics? I consider myself liberal but would like to read more about what is going on in the conservative world… I don’t want to have a one sided view in everything I do.

Then reading everything about China and how their firewall works and how it was to make things “less political and more about social relations” I think is a little bit of a lie. The people are not able to search everything, they will not be able to get the entire information from the websites. It is difficult to image how to live like that. One of my chemical engineering professors told me about a time she went to China for a business trip, and she wanted to look at a scientific paper to help her company prove a point but she was unable to access this data about energy. She had to FaceTime her husband in order for him to dictate the data points and for her and take pictures of the graphs so that she could get her work done. This was a scientific paper, it was not something that was political or against the government in anyway, the scientists in China could have benefited greatly from this information and were able to do so because of my professor. The population of China is so great that if they would all be able to get all the information they could in scientific papers they would be able to improve some processes and be more efficient. I didn’t know how hard and how bad it is to get passed the firewall in China, I thought it was only for social media and for things like that but to censor scientific data seems a little bit out of control in my opinion. You need to be able to express yourself and be able to inform yourself with all types of information (not a one sided gathering of information).

I think I do live in a filter bubble, it is bad but the things I notice and I learn are all mostly coming from one side. I have learned that every time I want to do thorough research I have to clear my history in Google and also go in more than the first 5 pages of my results. This way I get a little more perspectives and not only the ones that I am most likely to agree with.

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