Freedom of Expression

Topics: Facebook, Human rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights Pages: 5 (1588 words) Published: September 4, 2013
‘Freedom of expression’ is an amalgamation of several concepts and rights that includes freedom of speech and choice of what a person is allowed to say, do, hear, feel or express. If we break down the words and analyse them from their core, the simple meaning according to various dictionaries of freedom is ‘the power to determine action without restraint’ or ‘exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc’ this implies that freedom is liberty without constraints, whereas expression is nothing but the act of putting forth things in words or describing or expressing current emotions through multiple means at different levels, for example spiritual, mental, physical or social. Since we are discussing ‘Freedom of expression’ in regard to social media and in specifics to social networking websites like Facebook and Wikileaks who assimilate multimillion threads of information and personal data every day, what they do with it and how it can affect various functional groups in the society like the (3 tier spread): 1. Government

2. Society
3. Corporations
Freedom of speech is not generally seen as an absolute right, but a prudential right. An absolute right is a right that cannot be interfered of overridden, no matter what the public interest in doing so may be. Keeping the above in mind there are two aspects that have to be relatively analysed that is the positive and negative, and how different components of society’s composition are affected by them. As Quinn (2010, p. 152) explains, freedom of speech may exclude ‘libel, reckless or calculated lies, slander, misrepresentation, perjury, false advertising, obscenity and profanity, solicitation of crime, and personal abuse or “fighting” words’ , by the above statement we understand that like two sides of a coin there is an equal probability of people misusing their ‘Freedom of expression’. Ethics as we widely speak about is derived from the word in Greek roots called ‘ethos’ which means ‘character’. It is a concept based on morality and helps us differentiate between doing the right thing and wrong, Wikileaks and Facebook both are individual websites who operate differently for different goals and purposes. Many people consider that the internet has affected (or will affect) the world in a similar way to the invention of the printing press. The internet allows people to prepare and disseminate information across the globe instantaneously, and has allowed the rise of discussion groups, chat groups, blogs, social networking sites, diverse news and information sites and Wikipedia, to name just a few things. People seem more capable than ever before of expressing their views and interacting with others, few examples of ‘mis-used’ or ‘debatable’ instances of freedom of expression can be : 1. Pornography

2. Spam or Bulk Mail
3. Politics and Cross Judicial Issues
4. Business Access and Security

The above examples have been discussed in detail by various forums and authorities around the word, few of them are considered discriminatory whilst few of them are privacy driven, the internet when introduced was used for spying and for military purposes whereas today it allows a kid to access million topics around the world, which makes us want to rethink whether if the availability of the data on the internet is a blessing or curse? Consider it as ‘Food for thought’.


WikiLeaks is a not-for-profit media organisation. Their goal is to bring important news and information to the public. They provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to their journalists (through the electronic drop box). One of their most important activities is to publish original source material alongside news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth. WikiLeaks has sustained and triumphed against legal and political attacks designed to silence their publishing organisation, their...
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