Should the Government Control Social Media?

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One of the best things about being American citizens is our right to freedom of speech.  Yet, everyone in the world is not as lucky.  As technology becomes more important to our society, many government officials fear social media for its power to end careers or start rumors - but does that give them the right to regulate online content?

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, seems to believe he has the right to impose restrictions on Internet content, similar to those seen in countries such as Iran and Cuba.  He was quoted as saying, "the Internet cannot be something open where anything is said and done. Every country has to apply its own rules and norms."  He even expressed criticism of social networking sites Twitter and Facebook because they are used to spread rumors, even citing Twitter messages as "tools of terror."

The real issue began when a Web site allowed a false post claiming that Diosdado Cabello, a senior minister and close aide of Chavez, had been assassinated.  Chavez believes allowing things like this to occur are a crime and people must be stopped from reporting fake information.  However, that is eliminating the entire point of the internet.

People are supposed to feel like posting their thoughts and opinions on public sites is accepted because that is what blogs and social networking sites are.  They act as tools for people to keep in touch or ramble on about information that they deem important.  While it is wrong to falsely state information about a person, that does not give Chavez the right to control what people can and cannot say online.

Yet, this doesn't seem to bother him.  Last August, Chavez closed down 34 broadcasters on "administrative grounds" and replaced them with own lengthy presidential broadcasts.  That is not trying to better the country by removing false information; that is replacing things he doesn't like to hear with his own thoughts.  It takes away peoples' freedom to express themselves.

This just goes to show how important a free and open internet is.  People have the right to say what they want, and, even if it's wrong that does not give the government the right to censor them just because they don't agree.

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6 Comments

I completely agree with Lindsay. We are extremely lucky to live in a country where we have the freedom of speech. I can't even begin to fathum the thought of the government being able to control our right of free speech. The government definitely does not have the right to control social media; social media is a way to freely express your thoughts, opinions and ideas (freedom of speech). What Chavez did, when he closed down 34 broadcasters and replaced them with presidential broadcasts, would never (or at least I hope not) happen in America. Think about all the controversial broadcasters in America (i.e. Larry King) that would be shut down if the American government were to follow other countries. I like your last paragraph; I couldn't agree with you more.

WOW. This definitely disturbs me, this just goes to show you how messed up and powerful other countries government systems can be. Many countries Internet services are under surveillance. However, there are other motives like making sure the freedom of press is stilled allowed, but with limitations. Countries such as Australia are being watched closely by their government because of pornography and other unauthorized programs going through their Internet stream, this is understandable, however for Chavez to cut 34 broadcasters and replace them with his own voice, that is not right at all I agree with Lindsay completely.

All I can say is we better be glad that we don't live in China, a country who's government is so invasive that YouTube, Twitter, AND Facebook are all blocked. I completely agree with Lindsay. Chavez sounds like he's touting more of that old "State's Rights" slogan, except for countries. Well, what about HUMAN rights. Every citizen of the world should have the ability to say whatever he or she wants on his or her own private spaces such as blogs and social networking sites. All potentially damaging "rumors" that are started through these are quickly dispelled by the easy access to information that the massiveness of the Internet provides. Remember when Perez Hilton blogged that Fidel Castro was dead? That blew over in less than an hour. Chavez restricting his people and broadcasting his own messages is total abuse of power - but I guess this is Chavez we're talking about, so what do we really expect?

I can't believe there are still countries doing this. After taking a class on Media Law, and seeing that we are still fighting the U.S. government on some rights for freedom of speech, it has never been this bad in the U.S. The internet is a new way to vent and express your feelings, if he starts blocking these, what makes these people not become more aggressive to get their opinions heard.
My other question is people who live in Venezuela and have family elsewhere and have internet access, can't talk to their family in other countries because of government restrictions that seems in no way fair. Its hard to see the other side when in America we have very opinionate people on the television and all over the internet I can't imagine it living in a country that prevents your freedom of speech.

Like everyone else, this completely shocked me and makes me realize that something as simple as free reign over the Internet is not necessarily a given right to everyone around the world. This blog reminded me a lot about North Korea and the ridiculous restrictions that the government imposes upon its people including blockage of the Internet and even any outside news source!
These restrictions that the government is imposing is dangerous. If the Venezuelan president thinks he has the authority to block a simple freedom like the Internet, I fear what else he thinks he has power to control. I couldn't agree with you more, Lindsay.

After reading this blog, it makes me feel very lucky and privileged to live in a country where free expression is not something that I have to fight for. I feel as though Chavez's authoritarian way of ruling only makes matters worse, although he thinks that he is making it better. The only reason that he thinks what he is doing is right is because it is HIS opinion. However, he should realize that EVERYONE has an opinion, and everyone should be able to express their thoughts and ideas freely.

By censoring certain information, he (and other regimes that operate in the same fashion) is denying the public of meaningful conversation. If everyone just blindly submits to one view on an issue, and there is no room for debate or discussion, issues may never be completely resolved in ways that will be beneficial to everyone.

The internet is a place where freedom of expression is the name of the game, and not everyone is always going to like or agree with what others are saying. However, participating in controversial dialogue on valuable topics creates great learning experiences for those involved. I don't think that this exposure to opposing opinions should ever be taken away from the citizens of the world.

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Recent Comments

  • SARAH HUGHES DEEM: After reading this blog, it makes me feel very lucky read more
  • KRISTINA LEE SIMPSON: Like everyone else, this completely shocked me and makes me read more
  • CINDI M CORDARO: I can't believe there are still countries doing this. After read more
  • MICHELLE ROSE ASMARA: All I can say is we better be glad that read more
  • JENNA MARIE GRULA: WOW. This definitely disturbs me, this just goes to show read more
  • SCOTT ANTHONY JONES: I completely agree with Lindsay. We are extremely lucky to read more

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