NROP: Ban on freedom of speech – public service, or oppression?

All of us started blogging to express ourselves. The reasoning might be different for each and every one of us, but we all wanted to get our words “out there”.

Some of us started blogging because the way we expressed ourselves in the outside world was frowned upon. And so we found our safe heaven here. A place where we can say what we think, without getting a muzzle put on our face.

A big part of being an adult and having access to the Internet is being able to look up whatever I am interested in. While I am aware that searching for certain things might land me under the watchful eye of the FBI, I feel comfortable searching for just about anything.

The reason why I am enjoying this platform as much as I am is being able to converse with not only those who agree with me but also those who do not. I might change their minds, or they may change mine. Who knows? That is the beauty of a social media platform available to people around the world. Voices speak up, ideas are shared, minds are made up. Kind of like in the outside world, only on a more global scale and with fewer inhibitions.

What I have recently read boggled my mind. Namely – Pinterest announced that it was blocking posts (pins? I am unsure of the lingo) related to vaccines. What does that mean? It means that if you go on Pinterest and search for “vaccines” or “vaccination”, you will not find anything. Instead, you will get a message saying: “Pins about this topic often violate our community guidelines, so we’re currently unable to show search results.”

Ah, those pesky community guidelines got me in trouble more than once. Not on Pinterest, because I do not have an account there, but on various Internet forums. At one point or another, someone gets their panties in a bunch and I end up being silenced. That is a terrible violation of human rights. I am not forcing people to read and believe what I write. They have a choice.

In order to see what Pinterest’s guidelines are all about, I went onto their website. The very first line claims that it is the platform to help people DISCOVER things. However, the next sentence says that they will try and do everything not to show inappropriate things. The word inappropriate is very subjective. What I deem inappropriate, you might not, and vice versa. Under the “safety” category of the guidelines, Pinterest prides itself on keeping divisive content off their site. Divisive content? Who gets to decide what is and what is not divisive? Does it not make you feel like that is a perfect environment for discrimination? Of course, Pinterest claims to remove content that is discriminatory. How cool is it to be your own boss? To have people follow your rules, but not having to follow them yourself? “Don’t infringe anyone’s (…) other rights.” Preach, Pinterest. You are casting stones, but are you without sin?

Blocking vaccine-related searches is just a temporary solution, while Pinterest looks for something more permanent. It claims that its purpose is to spread inspiration, not misinformation. Supposedly, a big chunk of the results urged people against vaccinations.

Here is my issue with all that – it impedes freedom of speech. Whether you agree with vaccination, or not (or maybe yes to some, but not to all?), you should be able to do your research on the topic. You should be able to get to know stories of people around the world. I understand that there IS a lot of misinformation out there. People are spreading rumors, etc. However, that is the beauty of the Internet – you can find anything there. In the end, it is YOUR choice to believe it or not.

As I was reading about Pinterest, I also discovered similar issues with Facebook and Instagram. The first one has been in the spotlight for a while (Russian bots), so it was not as surprising to me as Pinterest, or Instagram. Facebook is trying to make anti-vaccine content less visible. It said that the steps they are taking are aimed at “reducing or removing this type of content from recommendations, including Groups You Should Join, and demoting it in search results, while also ensuring that higher quality and more authoritative information is available.” What is authoritative information? Why do some people have a better chance at becoming an Internet sensation than others? You need to say specific things in order to get more organic traffic onto your page. Are you alright with all that?

A member of Congress holds Facebook accountable for posting information that is not medically accurate. Since when did social media become medical gurus? Since when did we start believing everything we read on a platform that is meant for keeping in touch with your friends? If I want medically credible information, I speak to doctors and read medical journals. I turn to social media and forums when I want to see other people’s experiences. That way I keep my head straight without having to blame other people for my actions.

It was surprising to me to find out that Instagram bans hashtags whenever they want to. One year the hashtag “happythanksgiving” was being overused and misused, so they blocked search results pertaining to that hashtag. Apparently, it is the user’s responsibility to check the banned hashtags on a regular basis (even daily). Why do you need to care? Well, if you use any of the banned hashtags, you run the risk of being shadow banned, which means that you will only be visible to those who follow you. I was in utter disbelief when I scanned through the list of the banned hashtags. Take a look here to see how ridiculous some of them are.

“It is for your own good” – they say. But, if we have a hard time believing our parents when they say that, why would we believe companies that do not even know us?

How do you feel about social media banning certain things?

Stay golden,

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55 thoughts on “NROP: Ban on freedom of speech – public service, or oppression?

Add yours

  1. I think it’s fine. People shouldn’t be getting garbage medical info from social media. Social media admin needs to step up and enforce their TOS, get rid of fake accounts, spam, harassment, etc., like they always said they would. As far as “free speech,” that’s a right we have to be protected from the government. It has nothing to do with forcing a company to let every jerk bully people on the internet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What’s bothered me lately is all the “fundraising” that’s popped up on FB. Everyone has their cause(s) for sure. That’s fine but do we need to bombard each other with fundraising initiatives? It annoys me and I’ve been involved in a few fundraising day promos for a rescue I volunteer with. But even that’s become difficult to swallow and promote. I try to share experiences and interesting articles about science and art mostly. It can be difficult to not get mired down in it all. If not for my job I would love to drop it completely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally get that.
      Does it mean that we should reward people for not knowing how to budget?
      It’s like with people on the street, who beg for money. There were some who really need(ed) help, but then came others, who thought: “Hey, free money!”, and now we are all jaded, and even the needy don’t get help. That’s what all that fundraising is doing.
      Also, don’t be surprised that you find yourself in need of a fundraiser for yourself if you spent all your money on all these other fundraisers.

      Naturally, there are some for good cause. But it turned into a system of abuse.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Social media has sure become a monster, and corporations will be what they are. WP has been a great platform ito quality social experiences, but is definitely the exception. In search of reliable information, even Wikipedia is barely credible as a standalone source. One should know what sort of content to expect from other platforms. Even linked in tastes like corporate run of the mill garbage. It is a shame, because they all start out with such lofty, well meaning objectives of bringing the world together and sharing knowledge. It’s just that it’s hard to filter the content when the tap is wide open, so to say. Some organizations, Wikipedia being a notable one, have well thought out moderation schemes that foster the sharing of quality information. I suppose when the objective of make money from advertisement comes up, those lofty goals lose priority.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it interesting how quickly we forget the simple truth that companies will just be businesses in the end?

      I know WP is special, and I knock on wood, because I don’t want to jinx it. It had happened before…

      Wikipedia used to be the Holy Grail. And then it wasn’t anymore. Must everything rot?

      Wisdom. Well worded about other platforms.

      Like

  4. This might not be a very thoughtful thing to say, but I feel sort of indifferent as the topics and hashtags they’re banning are the ones I don’t talk about or use. Still, I feel it’s wrong to say you give people a media to discover anything and discuss anything freely, and then you prohibit the discussion of certain topics. Isn’t that what cherry picking is? I want to scream hypocrites right now.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Not everything has to be thoughtful.
      I don’t care because I don’t really have social media to use these hashtags on (aside from Twitter, which gets auto-posts from here). However, I do care, because I feel like that’s wrong.

      EXACTLY! That’s what I’m saying. They are businesses and they can do whatever they want. But why do they have to lie and contradict like that?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow.. I looked at the ban word list, and I can’t believe Instagram does that. I saw the word #books on there! I get that they’re trying help decrease spam accounts, but as a reader, I know that if I had an Instagram account in which I posted frequently, I’d probably use that hashtag.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Protecting us from ourselves! LOL, the nonsense is endless. Community guidelines are anything but. What ever happened to “don’t believe everything you read”?

    You are right, subjective and ambiguous rules are the makings of control and censorship.

    Censorship is all the rage today. The willingness to censor people proves that the 1st amendment is far more powerful than the 2nd. The ability to inspire is what they are after.

    That is why it is of utmost importance to check the right boxes when signing up, i.e.

    Gender, I’d rather not say
    I am a black transgender Muslim female that sometimes identifies as a white male.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Great post. Who said social media was the last bastion of free speech? They aren’t required by any law to protect free speech. That is ‘supposed’ to be our government’s job via its/our Constitution (HA!)

    Amazon has been banning books.

    I love the utter arrogance. I can think for myself, thank you & I know how to do research…assuming there is anything left TO research. Search engines are own by companies not under free speech rules, either. 🤔🙄☹😠

    Liked by 3 people

    1. They are private companies, but because we don’t directly pay for their services, we are lulled to sleep. I’m all about banning violence, etc. But when you can get banned for ANYTHING, it just becomes ridiculous.

      It instills hope in me, though. Why are they banning all these things (ex.: books)? They must be AFRAID, which makes me believe that the fight is not over. That there is still a chance that the good will triumph over evil. They do end up brainwashing a ton of people, though.

      Good point regarding the research! You have to really work hard.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Great post, as always.

    All this PC and censorship is VERY scary. I agree with The Hinoeuma, ” I can think for myself, thank you & I know how to do research…assuming there is anything left TO research”. I do not need anyone to do my thinking for me. I have a good education and a good brain that allows me to form my own opinions about things. I am also smart enough to figure things out on my own as well, and if I do not know about something, I can find out where to learn about it on my own too. All these people who believe censorship is the way to go had better wake up, and wake up very quickly. They are trying to make us all robots and have everyone be the same. That is most definitely NOT the way I want to live my life, thank you.

    I used to follow a whole bunch of sites on Facebook, but they are ALL GONE now. I can’t even find them anymore. Apparently, Mr. Zuckerberg thinks he knows better than I do about what interests me and what I should be learning. I think he is spoiled brat who needs grow up, as are all the rest of these people cramming censorship down our throats. We learn about things through discussing them with others. As you said, they could possibly change my mind, or I could change theirs. At the very least, we might all learn something new.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “All these people who believe censorship is the way to go…” Apparently, people don’t know history. Oh, wait, we’re tying to bury it… Doesn’t it make you think?

      Interesting. I wonder how much it’s Zuckerberg and how much it’s the others putting pressure on his platform. I think a bit of both. Why do you think Mr. Z says he wouldn’t let his daughter join HIS platform?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I know. These are pretty scary times. All these people need to wake up and pick up a few history books, NOT revisionist history books either.

        I agree. I think it is coming mostly from Mr. Z. He is a billionaire, so he thinks just because he has money that he is in control. He is on a huge ego trip.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Glad to hear.
        Even though I welcome disagreements, I once had a difference of opinion between people commenting on my post. One sided with me, one was against me. They decided to battle between themselves. In the end they both unfollowed me. Weird stuff.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Excellent post. Thought provoking.

    I don’t understand the logic of why some things are banned and others aren’t. My kid recently showed me some videos on Instagram that made me feel sick. Supposed real videos of people getting hurt in accidents. But I also had a friend who promoted her art on Instagram, get her art removed because it was too provocative or something. So it’s okay to watch videos of people getting hurt and/or dying but it is not okay to post gender bending art photos. This person IS and actual artist with a degree and all that! Who taught gender studies……content removed! They had their stuff removed from Facebook too. It was reported as being inappropriate content. SMH

    Social media is confusing! The internet is confusing. But yet, so addictive! 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Don, for reading and sharing your experience.

      Everything is so arbitrary. If you want people to follow rules, you need to make the rules black and white. Not blue, and pink, and yellow. But the companies like to have maximum control over everything, so they pick and choose.

      It’s true. Can’t live with it, but cannot live without it, either.

      Liked by 2 people

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