International Opinion: Terrorism shouldn’t be censored on the Internet

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While the power of social media has been exposed through revolutions and social justice movements in the 21st century, other groups, such as the terrorist group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS, have been using the same tools to promote their own agenda.

ISIS has horrified audiences around the world in the recent months releasing videos of their killings and threats via tweets and posts on social networks, and there have been cases where they use the same networks for recruitment.

One of their targeted audiences has been Americans. The Daily Beast said, “A strategy developed over years has evolved into a sophisticated campaign and now, at the center of the world’s attention, ISIS is using its skill to communicate directly to an American audience.”

Their most recent exploit was the execution of a Jordanian pilot and have released the footage of the execution online. YouTube decided to take down the video and has received criticism from some writers/bloggers for not allowing users to view the videos.

There is an issue of freedom of speech when it comes to banning or taking down ISIS footage from a site like YouTube or Facebook.

Professor John Berg in the government department said that social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have always taken down videos or content which violate their policies. He also mentioned they are not a public service and are not required to give us the news.

“The First Amendment guarantees free speech.The government cannot stop anybody,” he said. “If the government told Facebook to remove videos, it’s an issue. But if Facebook decides on its own, it’s within their right. They censor people all the time. Sometimes because you’re spamming or they think you’re violating content policies.”

Facebook and Google, who owns YouTube, have written in their terms of service they reserve the right to prohibit content that promotes violence, terrorism, and hate speech.

On these sites, users can block or unfollow people they do not want to interact with and even put their profiles on private so they can decide who is allowed to view their information. This is akin to YouTube’s and Facebook’s choice to take down any explicit videos relating to terrorism.

There are other websites where people can view these videos if they wish to do so. They are not banned or censored from every website and people are free to see them.

“No one is censoring the videos from the internet. People can view from other sites,” said Berg. “Social media is more like a newspaper. It’s a company driven by its own drive for profit, and if they didn’t take them off they’d get more criticism than they are now.”

It is understandable people may want to see the horrific video. Piers Morgan wrote he wanted to view the video to fully appreciate the violence of ISIS.

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