Are We Becoming Unethical on Social Media?

Why is the internet filled with so much anger and hate? Why is it so easy for someone to publish something that is extremely harmful and offensive? Trolling, spamming, defaming, intimidating, humiliating, harassing and bullying are all faces of the same coin.

I am not only referring to individuals, but also professionals as well as news and media outlets. The amount of made-up, fake, inaccurate and hurtful news is just overwhelming; we see it every day on our timeline, and it was very prominent during the US elections period.

The question remains; can we say anything online and get away with it?

I’m not talking about freedom of speech, as the right to express any opinion without censorship or restraint is sacred and not in question here. But, intentionally hurting others is not free speech, it is unethical and simply wrong. My friend Najib¬†had an interesting post on March’s website regarding the topic.

The rules are very simple; what works in real life, works virtually. If you can walk in a public space and just offend someone bluntly without any repercussions, then you can do it virtually. Writing something in the privacy of our home, behind a screen, doesn’t mean that no one is seeing. We might be encouraged to say things in a post that we usually don’t say in real life, it’s easier and less intimidating, but the outcome is the same.

If you talk to these people, their answer is always: If you are offended by what we say, then don’t read or follow! I wish it were that simple. When we post something on social media, it’s like standing in the middle of Times Square and shouting your opinion using loudspeakers.

Today, there are many efforts across the world, especially in Lebanon and the Middle East, to create laws and regulations to have better control over the virtual world.

The problem is that politicians and government agencies are drafting a majority of these laws, without the inclusion of the civil societies and human right groups. It is being done under the umbrella of fighting terrorism and crime. These laws are two-edged swords that could be turned into tools for censorship, oppression, and jailing anyone with a different opinion.

The solution lies in the ethical conduct of each one of us, simply, do no evil.


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