Freedom of Speech on the Internet

Last week John Dickson, a prominent Christian commentator, reported that a post of his had been removed from Facebook. He had written a respectful commentary on the push for same sex marriage and someone had complained. After Dickson protested to Facebook the post was restored. 

Other Christian commentators have also noted from time to time that their posts mysteriously disappear from Facebook, especially when they write something contrary to the “establishment position” on sexuality issues.

Facebook is a private company and so they can regulate the contents of their web-site any way they like. They can delete posts they don’t agree with and promote ideas that they like.

It is ironic that destructive media such as porn can publish almost any vile or perverted thing with impunity, but those who call for traditional values on sexuality often find their appeals stifled by providers.

Here is the good news- you don’t have to be on facebook. Many platforms for promoting ideas exist outside of facebook and are not censored. Some of them require some work to get up and running.

Blogs are great. A blog is simply a collection of articles produced by one person or group over a period of time. This article is written on a blog. Most browsers allow you to subscribe to various blogs (sometimes via extensions to the browser). You read the content you want uncensored by any corporation. This wikipedia article on blogs is very interesting.

A blog (or RSS feed) usually has this symbol on it. Some browsers  show the symbol in the URL bar. Subscribe to the blog and you can automatically receive articles as they are posted to it.

If you use a variety of devices, and want to read blogs in more than one place, then an aggregation service might be the thing for you. I use feedly.com. Rather than subscribing to each blog on every computer, phone or tablet you own, you just log in to feedly and enter your blog details there. The nice thing is that feedly has an app for mobile devices, and many desktop and laptop web browsers have extensions that will notify you of new posts and allow you to look at a summary list without going to the feedly page.

If you want to produce your own blog, there are many providers who will let you set up your own blog for free. WordPress.com and blogger.com are the best known of these, but there are thousands of them. In a matter of minutes you can set up your own blog and be publishing your ideas to the world. Often these free services put ads on the bottom of your posts and offer a premium service where for a small fee you can have the ads removed. If you want your thoughts to be posted on other social media sites, most have buttons that allow you to link to facebook etc.

The other under-recognised social media platform is Google Plus. Whereas Facebook is where you link up with friends and acquaintances, G+ is a place where you can quickly meet up with a huge community of people who share the same interests you have- the friends you would like to have in real life. I find that generally people are more positive, respectful and have more useful things to say on G+ than on FB. Google have done a great job in fostering communities of interest and in allowing people to control who they share with than facebook.  As far as I know there has not been the kind of censoring that takes place on facebook.

I am finding that, after a number of years on social media, I am tending more to turn to the blog if I have something substantial to say, Google Plus for short comments or specific interests and less involvement on facebook except for local, family and church-related things. 

So even though it feels like facebook is universal and everyone is on it, there are other media for communication.

 

 

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