26 May 2011

Social Media's Eternal Battle between Good and Evil

Secularism in football is the latest issue on the agenda of the new Scottish Parliament. Following the recent bomb threats to high profile footballers, they need to address the growing issue of religious based abuse.

The interesting issue here is that a great deal of the negative behaviour is thought to stem from Facebook and other social networking groups.

If we have learnt one thing in the last few weeks, it is that social media users are loathe to be silenced by governments, whether correctly or not. And when threatened with legal procedings the response of the ardent is to flood networks in order to protect original perpetraitors with a social flock mentality that prevents the weakest being picked off.

The other significant issue is the one of sanctions on behaviour which, some would argue, simply amounts to freedom of speech.

How does one separate the freedom of speech from the persecution of different groups?

We are keen to express #solidarity with mistreatment through the various new media formats we find, but we are loathe to admit the negative angle this 'solidarity' can take.

Solidarity against paticular groups, which brings us into a standard of religious intolerence or persecution because of any of the equality strands raises significant moral dilemmas.

While the Twitter profile is predominately a left wing liberal sect, the demographic of Facebook is much vaster and allows a larger section of development for discriminating behaviour. From groups that abhor ginger people through to more worrying extremist and fundementalist views like neo-nazi-ism, this site has the potential to allow grievances to breed and multiply, like aomebae in a petrie dish of discontent.

All of a sudden, people who have used social media to campaign against undemocratic process find themselves covered in the germs of intolerence, conspiracy and potentially manslaughter.

It is the nature of society to have a spectrum of opinions, but this is not prevented by social media, rather it is exacerbated to standards which magnify it's impact on society.

Meeting like minded people in a town or city is one thing, but the danger of social media is it allows people with similar mind sets to congregate from all over the world.

Can it be controlled?

The obvious way to control such a torrid development in modernity is to have the organisations in charge banning illegal behaviour. But the globalisation of social media interfers. It may be illegal in America, but not in Europe, a minor offence in Malay or punishable by death in Iran. Where does one get a universal application?

And of course, social media is not just the large organisations. Those who cannot find their fellows on Facebook can penetrate forums or establish their own. The bine-weed mentality of modernity takes over.

It is clear that organisations, whether formal or otherwise, should be banned where their behaviour may cause harm, but who should have the responsibiity for that? A global thought police? And what of the lateral effects, for every facebook group, is there a real life meeting? Who should penetrate this and terminate the process?

Just some food for thought this Thursday.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

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