Better East Texas: Facebook walks the free-speech tightrope

BET: Facebook walks the free-speech tightrope

EAST TEXAS (KLTV/KTRE) - For decades, television viewers have lived with movies and dramas that have words and phrases bleeped or edited out of the production when it aired on television. We still live with that to a point today, but some standards have relaxed. That all stems from the FCC, which regulates broadcast television and radio stations. And there are specific rules regarding vulgarity and disturbing images.

The traditional cable networks aren’t regulated by the FCC, by the way. So thanks to the federal government, there are words and images you won’t see on TV or hear on radio. But social media is much different than that.

Social media is largely unregulated and dependent upon users to tag and point out offensive or inappropriate content – until now. Facebook took a very public step recently by removing a small group of individuals from its platform – essentially kicking out those that Facebook deemed as sources for hate speech.

This is an effort to self-regulate, and while that effort should be applauded, it just can’t be applied to those who spew hate speech along with politically-charged content. It is a tightrope walk for Facebook, but they must do it fairly or they will face political blowback.

If it doesn’t work, then regulation by the federal government is an option, but it is not the best option. Facebook needs to get this right, but also needs to respect the provision of free speech. And that is the largest challenge.

So, hopefully the tightrope will hold, and Facebook and other social media platforms can self-regulate, fairly – and that will make for a Better East Texas.

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