Social Media in the UK Promoting Freedom of Expression Essay

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Promoting Freedom of Expression within the Social Media in the U.K.



Introduction



Like the many other freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression is deemed to be a fundamental and inalienable human right. Towards this end, it is understood, within the said framework, to constitute the “freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” (United Nations, 2010, p. 107). For this reason, freedom of expression ought to be granted and guaranteed protection by any jurisdiction that prides itself as a beacon of modern democracy. The United Kingdom is one such country, alongside other countries such as the United States and Canada. It is important to note that over time, social media has become a marketplace of sorts for the exchange, advancement, as well as promotion of ideas concerning a wide array of issues. This is more so the case given its widespread adoption - with no specific regard for social, economic, or even age distinctions. For this reason, freedom of expression within the social media in the UK ought to be aggressively advanced, promoted, and fostered. This text clearly demonstrates that the relevance of promoting freedom of expression within social media cannot be overstated in a modern and democratic society like the UK.



Discussion



1. Promotes Democracy and Better Governance



Allowing and further enhancing freedom of expression within the social media in the U.K. would ensure that the government conducts its affairs in a just, fair, transparent, and equitable manner. In the words of Fraleigh and Tuman (2010), “democracy requires that people be informed on all sides of an issue, without the government screening of ideas that it deems unwise or dangerous” (8). Towards, this end, in a functional democracy, people should be permitted access to information so that they can make meaningful decisions on issues that affect them. Such issues include, but they are not limited to, electoral and social decisions. As a matter of fact, the European Court of Human Rights has, according to Equality and Human Rights Commission (2015) referenced “freedom of expression as one of the ‘essential foundations of a democratic society’ because it guarantees the right of every person to exchange information, debate ideas and express opinions” (6). Therefore, thanks to this key freedom, persons can point out the ills in governance, be sensitized on how to protect and safeguard their rights, and petition the government to address various issues of national importance.

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Indeed, as Brady (2012) observes, freedom of expression does indeed come in handy in bringing corruption issues in government to the attention of the public. In that regard, therefore, the relevance of freedom of expression cannot be overstated in seeking to promote better governance while at the same time further enhancing democracy. Social media remains an important medium through which persons could cultivate and advance these ideals.



2. Contributes to the Society’s Intellectual Growth and Knowledge Advancement



The further enhancement of freedom of expression within the social media in the U.K. would ensure that the society benefits immensely on the knowledge advancement an intellectual growth fronts. In the words of Schauer (2017), “the basic concept of freedom of speech”, from a broader perspective, is to enable “a society to increase its level of knowledge, to facilitate its identification of truth, and to expose error” (231). Therefore, where freedom of expression is promoted, people are permitted to freely express their ideas and thoughts, and thus share diverse opinions and viewpoints regarding a myriad of issues (Barendt, 2005). As a matter of fact, when there is free flow and exchange of information, the society as a whole benefits immensely and is better informed on the best course of action to take on various issues. A good example of this would be where people engage in discourse regarding LGBT rights and related issues, religious freedoms, proliferation of nuclear weapons, climate change, mass incarceration, and other contemporary and contentious issues. As McWhorter (2013) points out, a more enlightened society is a society at peace with itself and with its neighbors. Diverse viewpoints from various quarters, proclaimed as a consequence of freedom of expression, would present the masses with a unique opportunity of sorting through general information and fact with an aim of finding meaningful ideas and concepts. It is, therefore, important to note that when freedom of expression is not curtailed, social media….....

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References

Brady, A.D. (2012). Proportionality and Deference under the UK Human Rights Act: An Institutionally Sensitive Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Barendt, E. (2005). Freedom of Speech (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Conway, M. (2016). Determining the Role of the Internet in Violent Extremism and Terrorism: Six Suggestions for Progressing Research. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 1(4), 77-98.

Council of Europe (2018). Hate Speech. Retrieved from: https://www.coe.int/en/web/freedom-expression/hate-speech

Dimbleby, J. (2015). For Freedom of Speech, These are Troubling Times. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/21/freedom-of-speech-online-witch-hunts-law--bbc

Equality and Human Rights Commission (2015). Freedom of Expression. Retrieved from https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en

Fraleigh, D.M. & Tuman, J.S. (2010). Freedom of Expression in the Marketplace of Ideas. London: SAGE Publications

Icelandic Human Rights Center (2018). The Right to Freedom of Expression And Religion. Retrieved from: http://www.humanrights.is/en/human-rights-education-project/human-rights-concepts-ideas-and-fora/substantive-human-rights/the-right-to-freedom-of-expression-and-religion

Klang, M. & Murray, A. (2005). Human Rights in the Digital Age. London: Psychology Press.

McWhorter, P. (2013). Seeds of Enlightened Society. New York: Xlibris Corporation

Schauer, F. (2017). Free Speech, the Search for Truth, and the Problem of Collective Knowledge. Retrieved from: https://scholar.smu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4682&context=smulr

Thompson, S. (2012). Freedom of Expression and Hatred of Religion. Ethnicities, 12(2), 215-232.

United Nations (2010). Report of the Human Rights Council. New York: United Nations Publications.

UNESCO (2018). Freedom of Expression: A Fundamental Human Right Underpinning all Civil Liberties. Retrieved from: https://en.unesco.org/70years/freedom_of_expression

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