Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Silencing the Tweets

Twitter is a social media platform that allows users the ability to "tweet" or post their current thoughts or ideas in a public way. Users can retweet and favorite posts that they enjoy and comment on one another's tweets. After the beheading of journalist James Foley, Twitter suspended any account that posted graphic images, memes, or video links in connection to his murder. Decisions like this cause people to fear the loss of the freedom to express themselves. In these situations, there is a large area of gray where the right decision lies.

Users view Twitter as an accurate source of news. Even amongst the hormonal, emotional, everyday drama of adolescents, there are many who find comfort in searching their Twitter feeds for the most accurate and updated information. With that being said, enough people expressed their anger toward ISIS posting its tragic accomplishments, and demanded a ban on the release of graphic images. However, if one group of images is declared graphic enough to remove accounts, then what will it take to remove other groups of graphic images? Furthermore, when is appropriate for one group of
people's beliefs to be accepted and another's rejected?

Obscenity is in the eye of the beholder...until enough people agree upon it. The amish would view much of American society as obscene, and would demand the removal of images that conflict with their beliefs. Then again, true amish believers would not have a Twitter account, and would have no room to complain. The point remains that obscenity and "graphic" images have different definitions to different people. It appears as a debate on the epistemology of what is truly defined as graphic and obscene.

If I owned Twitter, I would choose to monitor what is posted and I would not allow specific posts that I deem obscene. This is where many would argue where censorship begins and freedom ends. Nevertheless, I have the right to control whatever I own. For example, if I choose to live a lifestyle that does not involve drinking alcohol, then I would not allow it in my home. Even if I have friends over who enjoy a glass of wine every now and then, whenever in my home, they would need to respect that I do not allow it. However, if I find myself in their homes and they choose to drink, that does not bother me because now I am in their house and there is a different set of rules.

Therefore, I view Twitter's attack on the graphic images posted of James Foley to be ethical. Whether a news source chooses to reveal or conceal certain parts of the investigation is their right. Yet, I do see an issue with how something is defined as graphic enough to remove. It will not keep me up at night or stress me out because I choose not to worry about such things. As a student of Florida State College of Jacksonville in the RTV4403 Media Criticism course, I understand that life is not fair now and it never will be. It is filled with daily decisions that effect the overall outcome of every life and requires careful consideration at all times.

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