The Difference Between Opinion & Hate Speech
Freedom Of Speech VS. Hate Speech
Free speech is a civil right that guarantees your freedom of expression & gives you the right to voice your opinion through protected speech from the government.
However, hate speech is not protected. In general terms, hate speech refers to offensive expression that targets a group or individual for specific characteristic like race, gender, sexuality or religion. It can also refer to speech that may threaten social peace.
That means, when comments or posts are removed off of social media for breaking ‘hate speech community guidelines’, not only are they justified but such action can also come with both legal & social consequences.
It's The Same For Celebrities
Though often overlooked, celebrities also have to abide by company guidelines. Whatever goes up on the internet is permanent, so when celebrities like Kanye West start tweeting anti-semitic or racist comments, rules need to be enforced.
West getting removed from Twitter is a clear case of understanding the distinction between freedom of expression & hate speech through the targeting of minorities.
When Elon Musk took over Twitter, he aimed to “bring back free speech”. Celebrities took to social media to condemn Musk’s policies after hate speech surged by 500% upon his purchase. Among many, LeBron James commented “So many damn unfit people saying hate speech is free speech.”
Free speech laws protect you from legal repercussions but not social consequences.
The Grey Line With Companies
Account suspensions & bans generally exist to regulate hateful expressions & online discrimination. However, when it comes to social media sites, it’s important to consider that when users are reported, they are first filtered through an AI system.
Although AIs are based on a multitude of algorithms, they are not always effective. They can both remove content that shouldn’t necessarily be taken down, or determine posts safe when they might actually fall under hate speech.
In fact, if you’ve ever spotted public comments that seem like they should be taken down but haven’t been removed it, it may be the case that they slipped through the system.
Hate Speech In Our Comments
No social media platform is safe from receiving hate speech, including the FreeHour socials. Comment sections can be a place for discussions, but with certain topics involving minorities or sensitive topics, it’s seemingly easier to resort to hate rather than rationale.
It’s not always what is being said in our comment sections that can be deemed hate speech, but the way a message is being conveyed. Hate speech doesn’t allow for education to take place & comes from a place of misinformation & ignorance.
While leaving a targeted hateful comment might not be a major deal for an individual, online hate speech increases violence worldwide and opens minorities & individuals up to danger.