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Free Speech or Abuse?

We, as Americans, take our right to free speech pretty seriously.

When the Founding Fathers wrote the Bill of Rights in 1789, it is safe to assume that they didn’t have a concept of social media or the Internet.

The idea behind the right to free speech was that in England, during colonial times, it was a crime to criticize the government. There was also a license required to publish anything.

Even in Virginia, before the Constitution was written, people were given the death penalty for speaking badly of ministers and using “disgraceful words.”

Of course, as technology increases and becomes increasingly complex, laws that were written many years ago are behind the times and don’t address current issues. The process of adding or changing a law doesn’t move as fast as new innovations do.

One hot topic now, is where freedom to speak and write as one wishes ends and abuse starts.

Sites like Twitter and Facebook have tried to help reduce the amount of abuse by allowing users to block and report other users, but Twitter, in particular has been criticized for not doing enough.

In response to the criticism, Twitter has announced some improvements in the process for reporting abuse, which will make it more streamlined. There are now fewer steps to report abuse, and the ability for people not directly involved in the abuse to report it as well. Twitter has also now made it so that blocked users will not be able to view the profiles of users who blocked them (unlike Facebook, that was a feature that Twitter did not previously have).

The jury is still out on what actually happens to reported users.

Most states have now enacted cyberstalking or cyberharassment laws, but name-calling isn’t included in the outlawed activity.

Some users report that they are called offensive names all day on social media sites.

We want to know what you think. Should ALL Internet posts be protected under free speech?

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