I have long bantered about the need for accountability among members of social media communities. Social Media communities are often a “Wild West” where minimal, if any, consequence exists for those who cross the line with their actions, dialogue and behavior on any of the existing social media communities. Hate crimes, death threats and harassment are just a few of the issues that cascade the social media culture and issues that don’t have a clear resolution. Nor is there a clear system in place to protect those who are subjected to these negative actions.
The aforementioned argument was an easy one to make. But Social Media platforms are responsible in their own right and I’m not speaking just about the user behavior that is easy to recognize in their respective community cultures.
As the world is aware, terrorism is a problem that keeps growing. The latest example is the terror group ISIS which has caught the world’s attention with their evil and aggressive actions.
ISIS has made videos and utilized social media platforms to share their views, their proclamations, their actions and intentions and most disturbingly, their graphic videos that demonstrate brutal murder.
And while the world reacts to ISIS the pressure mounts on Social Media platforms who have seemingly washed their hands of responsibility. It’s confusing to determine the lines when a user can get blocked for following too many people at once on Twitter, or sending too many Facebook friend requests but a terrorist group can easily publish and promote their brand of evil and hate. And that is where the lines are blurred.
But make no mistake, ISIS isn’t the first to utilize social media as it’s virtual soapbox for propaganda. In fact numerous terrorist groups have utilized Social Media similarly, even before ISIS. So the issue isn’t something new, it’s existed for quite some time and regardless of how long, it’s been too long.
I was watching Bill Maher’s Real Time last night and he spoke about this very issue. What Maher said was brilliant. He pointed out that years ago, sports television broadcasters made a uniform stance against fans who ran onto the field or disrupted the game in a public way. Their stance was to not broadcast it and the reason for this was relaying the message that the broadcasting entities were not going to promote these actions by giving these incidents “pub”.
So my question, like Maher’s, is; Why Can’t Social Media make the same stance?
If their monitoring system can pick up on follower counts, friend requests and spam then how can they lack the sophistication to disable the ability for these terror groups to go viral?
It’s unfair to place all the blame on Social Media itself, but it certainly begs for a resolution.
A factor in the silencing of hate, is cutting off the channels in which it is publicized. Disarming the weapon of propaganda and thus diminishing the power of fear.
Is it a resolution as a whole? No, there are far bigger issues with terror that Social Media simply cannot address. But to ask Social Media to be better, to improve and to react isn’t an impossible request.
As every culture and community throughout history there has been evolution as time has gone on.
It’s not impossible to expect evolution within the culture and community of Social Media platforms.