With protest actions and subsequent riots happening around the world over recent You Tube posts in the US, many being organised, promoted and commentated on through social media, there are questions being asked about how much control should governments put on these new forms of communication. The alternative question is, do tougher laws then impinge on many countries right to freedom of speech?
In Australia there have been calls recently by personalities hit by vile comments on social media from so-called trolls for stricter penalties against these people. Many politicians have jumped on the band wagon calling for tougher actions by law enforcement, one quote was to ‘replace the trolls’ keyboards with handcuffs’. There has been some equally ignorant and reactionary reporting of the issue by mainstream media, stirring up FUD about social media in general. The question is really how far is too far or should we all just take our mothers’ advice of “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me!”. The best course of action is to ignore the trolls. It’s hard to do in practice, but in these kinds of situations anything you say in response will only feed the frenzy, and it is a frenzy!.
A positive out of last weekend’s events in Sydney showed that police, through sophisticated monitoring of social media, were able to rapidly respond to an impending threat and were able to resource appropriately and not be caught short handed.
The social media debate will continue to rage. Join me at Gartner Symposium on the Gold Coast 12-15 Nov to hear a keynote by Dom Sagolla, co-creator of Twitter and author of ‘140 characters: a style guide for the short form’. It will be interesting to see what he has to say about the use and abuse of his creation as a communication channel.