With freedom of speech comes responsibility

Maya Amjadi/Staff Writer

All over the Web, people post snide or cruel comments in response to pictures and articles every minute.
Seconds to get to the pictures or articles, seconds to type an opinion, or what is meant to be an opinion, and a mere fraction of a second to click the send button. But for some, it has taken years to fulfill their sentence from what they posted on an Internet page.
Open up any article and go to where the comments are listed. If there isn’t anything hurtful written there, go to the next article. It won’t take you long to find something that fits this description. The comments are often angry; typed before thinking whether they are even somewhat appropriate or not. Hurtful messages, trash talk, and even defamation can easily be found.
In America it may be easy to throw opinions out there because it’s how we’re taught. Voice your opinion. The Freedom of Speech amendment to the Constitution supports and establishes this. Doesn’t it? Well the amendment does not include defamation; it never has.
Federal law states that websites are not to be held accountable for statements posted by outside viewers. What many people do not know, however, is that they can be forced to reveal the poster’s identity. A time when this would suffice is when the post includes false information. Some view lies or accusations as a way of expressing opinion, but misinformation can lead to a lot of societal problems, which it is why it is viewed as an offense by the federal government. Posting lies receives jail time, but it is a due consequence because many harmful things have resulted from posting unwise, cruel, and false information on the Web. These include numerous hate crimes that have resulted in terrors including death. The government gives fair consequences to these acts of hate, but are they doing enough? The harmful messages continue to be abundant on numerous Web pages, and many of these lies contribute to societal intolerance and misunderstanding.
It is clear that, although we have the right of free speech, abusing this privilege causes horrific problems across the country. To test whether you should post something or not ask yourself, “Would I say this to their face?” More often than not, you might just find yourself deleting the message, instead of sending it; it can be a lot safer and a lot less cruel.

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