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Social media regulation...one law to rule them all?

Social media is a powerful tool...especially in the wrong hands. But enough about @RealDonaldTrump's Twitter feed...



by
Business development, social media & strategy
 

...let's focus on the important issues out there in Social-Medialand; issues such as cyber-bullying and highly inappropriate content that impressionable teenage minds can be - and are - exposed to.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee summed it up well when, on the 30th anniversary of the Web as we know it, he said...

"The Web has created opportunity, given marginalised groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, [but] it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit." 

Ain't that the truth, Sir Tim?!

See, the thing is, although websites are the bedrock of online business; a means to peddle one's wares, if you will; then social media offers the ways and means to shout about pretty much anything by anyone? Within minutes - seconds even - any Joe Schmo with an axe to grind can find a global audience.

What is social media regulation?

It's nothing...yet. Social media regulation - if it happens at all - is about exerting greater control over what is said in the public, social domain. But who are we - or who is anyone for that matter - to say what should or shouldn't be posted on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn or any other social platform? Isn't this what the World Wide Web is all about? Freedom of speech and fundamental human rights? Perhaps, but then again, perhaps not...

There's a dark and dangerous underbelly to the Web; one that affords individuals so inclined to 'help' kids commit crime, encourage self-harm or even take their own lives - the ultimate in self-harm. Fortunately, authors of such sickness are a tiny minority, but that doesn't make it any more right, does it? Their relative lack of numbers also doesn't make it hard to find...Google is too good at its job to mean this stuff is hidden from view.

So, why now?

Well, it's been a debating point for years, but it looks like things may be coming to a head. Parents across the globe are screaming at social media platforms to be more vigilant about what's being posted and by who. It took Facebook and YouTube hours to cotton on to their sites acting as live video channels for the recent deplorable and horrendous mosque shootings in New Zealand. 

One of the challenges that we all face - not just the SM platforms - is defining what is harmful or acceptable. Will self-censorship be a viable solution to the problem at hand? Can we trust the powers that be in Zuckerberg's empire to guard our children (and vulnerable adults) from atrocities and the like? Come to think of it, can social media channels really be tasked and expected to effectively police content in ALL of our best interests? I guess, as ever, time will tell...