Social Media

Freedom of Speech

from The Gray Area:

There has been a fair amount of reaction to former Pres. Obama's speech at Stanford regarding tech/social media responsibility for accuracy of information. Both political sides (left & right), as you would expect, taking opposite positions on the speech and what it means. In a political time of competing ideologies such as ours, it is often good to reflect on past times of competing ideologies and the philosophies which held the day and ended by creating a greater good. In the tweet below on Ben Franklin's view of free speech, and just as important today, his "Apology for Printers", Franklin brilliantly explains the critical importance of free speech and freedom of the press. He says in the photo below from page 66 of the book, "Benjamin Franklin, An American Life": The opinions people have are almost as various as their faces. The job of printers is to allow people to express these differing opinions. There would be very little printed if publishers produced only things that offended nobody. It is unreasonable to imagine that printers approve of everything they print. It is likewise unreasonable, what some assert, that printers ought not to print anything, but, what they approve, since ... an end would thereby be put to free writing, and the world would afterwards have nothing to read but what happened to be the opinions of printers. Don't you think our media, who don't believe in what they call 'bothsiderism', who deny any conversation disputing climate change as a existential crisis, and social media leaders censorship of any opinion they disagree with, should re-establish this line of thinking? The book states that 'this enlightenment position on free expression is summed up in the sentence below that is now framed on newsroom walls.' "Printers are educated in the belief that when men differ in opinion, both sides ought equally to have the advantage of being heard by the public; and that when Truth and Error have fair play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter." If it is still framed on newsroom walls, I think news people and social media company personnel should read and begin to follow it. The spark for this debate came from an Obama speech at Stanford where he called for more media an social media censorship. As Ben Franklin might say, Obama is in 'error' in this exchange.

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