In July, 2016, Germany faced a wave of terrorist attacks. These attacks had connections to various posts on Facebook. The German government stated that they believed it was Facebook’s responsibility to turn over any information on future or past attacks. Later the following year, on Oct. 31, an Uzbek immigrant drove a truck into the sidewalks of Manhattan, killing 8 people. When he was detained, the New York Police found over 90 ISIS propaganda videos to which he clearly admitted to taking inspiration from. The question is, should social media sites have to legally turn over their user’s information if it implies a future attack or if it could shed light on an investigation for a past attack. And if not, should these sites be held culpable for these attacks to some extent.
Some U.S. officials urge social media sites to work toward terrorism prevention. Joe Lieberman, a former Congress member, demanded that social media sites shouldn’t let terrorists have access to their sites at all, and believes that the internet is a primary force in the spread of terrorism. In 2012, Twitter announced a change to their censorship policy, stating that they are going to begin censoring tweets that break the law in your local area. They gave the following statement :
“… Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why.”
Many people responded negatively to this, arguing that this was a violation of free speech. Some even threatened to stop tweeting if they didn’t repeal this clause.
There are various good and bad things that can come of actions such as this one. Yes, it is possible that this would lessen terrorist attacks. Yes, it could lessen hate speech. Yes, it could make the world a better place. But at what cost. Some say that this is a slippery slope to walk on. Once the public believes its ok to silence an opinion, who’s to say the government doesn’t silence another groups beliefs, maybe even yours. Is it worth possibly giving up your own freedom? What do they say? A bird in the hand is worth two in a bush.