Freedom of speech
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 October 2012, 5:58 am
Freedom of speech is a hot subject recently, with the Reddit vs. Gawker meltdown. Rowan Blaze wrote a very good post about the subject in view of MMO blog moderation. I very much liked the part where he pointed out the discrepancy of Reddit claiming that freedom of speech should cover borderline child porn, but not give freedom to "dox" (give the real name) the poster of said child porn.

Freedom of speech is *not* absolute. Even in America there are laws against free speech in certain conditions, for example if that free speech causes a "public nuisance". If you think you can parade in front of your neighbors house with a megaphone and tell the world what an asshole your neighbor is, the law will quickly teach you the limits of your free speech.

That matter is somewhat complicated on the internet by the factor of anonymity. On the one side anonymity should be a fundamental right on the internet as long as it serves only to protect privacy. There is no reason why your boss should have a right to see what you do during your weekend. There is no reason why everybody playing WoW should be able to see the real names of everybody else playing that game. But there need to be mechanisms which allow law enforcement to get past that public anonymity. Crimes permitted via the internet, be it money laundering, cyber bullying, child porn, or theft of intellectual property should not be less punishable than the same crimes committed by other forms of communication.

But as Rowan said, moderation of game forums or blogs are not only about freedom of speech. They are also about the right to associate with like-minded people. If you are of the opinion that I suck, you have the freedom of speech to express that opinion on your own blog. Your "you suck" comment on my blog does not enjoy protection from being deleted. "You suck" is not a valid contribution to a discussion, and can be deleted without taking away from that discussion. Blocking people makes the world a better place. The rights of the community on a forum or blog or social network to discuss an issue beats the right of somebody who wants to derail or disturb that discussion.
Tobold's Blog



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