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Why free speech in social networks is essential and where to find it.

    ura soul
    by
    Why free speech in social networks is essential and where to find it.

    For those old enough to remember the early days of the internet, true free speech is not mythical! Early social and community sites rarely - if ever - took action to censor or delete users. I fondly recall my time at tribe.net, where people helped each other to learn, to balance and deal with their issues instead of censoring them. Today though, corporates, governments and 'special interests' use censorship on a daily basis under the guise of 'protecting' us from threats that we aren't apparently mature or intelligent enough to see for ourselves.

    Today we have a handful of mega sites with billions of people interacting 24 hours a day. The systems that run these sites have become ever more complex and automated, able to use machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence to enforce rules of all kinds constantly. It is understandable that with so many people communicating through such platforms, that their operators would seek to improve the quality of the experience of their users by attempting to automate account management systems that highlight users who are excessively anti-social or operating illegally. However, it is clear that these systems are often used to cause people problems who are not anti-social and who are simply attempting to discuss ideas that the site's operators intend to be silenced.

    Censorship on Mainstream Social Networks

    While some will say that free speech is not a right in a private setting, evidenced by the fact that you may eject someone from your home if you don't like what they are saying - the internet is not the same as a home. If technology corporations with budgets of billions of dollars end up carrying more than 50% of the entire traffic of the internet, then it becomes difficult for anyone to avoid using their services if they intend to use the internet to be heard publicly. If subsets of the population are denied access to such tools, while others are not, then information available online will be hugely skewed. The biasing of information is hugely desirable to those who seek power over others and wisdom says than in the face of 'fake news' and misinformation, the sensible solution is to promote the education of research techniques that help us to find the truth, rather than dictating from on high what the truth is and blocking out access to other material and voices.

    We cannot have balance in society while some are drowned out by those with the most money and technological reach. Sooner or later pressure will build and we will see more and more of the kind of activity we have seen in France in recent months, with large numbers of people clashing with police due to frustrations of not being heard and of being overpowered by their politicians. We cannot create real balance while censoring each other as to censor is to overpower and both are themselves forms of imbalance. Personal responsibility must take the place of 'voices of authority' trying to make decisions for other people.

    Many will not realise the extent to which information is being hidden until they themselves attempt to share information via the web that is of a nature that the controllers do not want to spread. They will find that their comments are not read by people who previously were very engaged with their posts. They may find the features of the site they regularly use start to fail inexplicably and in some cases their entire profile may be suspended, often without a meaningful explanation.

    Free speech social networks?

    Thankfully, there are a variety of social media platforms that do value true free speech and who will rarely if ever step in to censor content. Generally, they do recognise that not ALL content has a place on the web - and all (that I know of) will step in to remove content that is evil and illegal (such as child abuse media), but will not get involved in attempting to silence opinions and thoughts just because they are unpleasant to some people. From a social and psychological perspective, it is actually healthier for us to see the mind state of other people and to then be able to develop methods of helping the more disturbed among us to find balance, than it is to pretend they simply don't exist.

    Some sites, such as those powered by the Steem blockchain, use open source technology that is not technically owned by anyone, to provide a backbone for free speech conversation to take place. The sites that use the database of the blockchain to store their content may censor content to some extent (usually only when faced with legal demands to do so), but the raw data of the posts themselves will still remain accessible on the blockchain for those who want to view it. Technically, content can still be removed from the blockchain if those who collectively run the blockchain agree to it, but this is rare since the kind of extreme content that would require this to be done is rarely posted there.

    Other sites, such as minds.com, gab.com (and dissenter, their commenting system that allows comments to be written about any page on the internet) do have more of a centralised structure, but also respect free speech as much as possible. This site, Ureka.org, is also another free speech friendly place.

    The nature of ureka.org is to be a space for healing and so direct attacks against people are taken very seriously here - however, rather than troubled and aggressive people facing automated banning, they are first likely to be presented with the more humane option being asked to enquire within themselves why they are being anti-social and if more constructive behaviour is possible for them. Ureka is a non commercial site, so direct advertising is usually classed as spam and may attract post deletion, however, there is no censorship of posts just due to the beliefs of the writer and nature of their opinions.

    Free thinking for the win!

    Free speech is about more than just respecting each other enough to allow each other to be able to speak openly. Free speech allows free thinking to take place and it is only through free thinking that we can innovate and find solutions to problems that have their roots in dysfunctional traditions, habits and belief systems that may seem 'normal' to those who adopt them, but which ultimately cause suffering and can be improved upon. If we are stuck with controlled narratives and limited thinking, then we ourselves are limited and can never reach the true greatness we deserve!

    If you or anyone you know has experienced censorship by social networks, search engines or other online services, let us know in the comments below - we'd love to hear your story. If you want to support free speech online, why not share ureka.org with your friends too?

    Wishing you well,

    Ura soul