Internet Censorship: Innovative or Immoral?
Nigeria’s recent lift of the 7 month Twitter ban has set off an eruption of conversation regarding the harmfulness of digital censorship: innovative or immoral? While many argue that digital censorship can be described as completely unjust, it's essential to note that censorship has its benefits.
You may be wondering, “What on earth is digital censorship and why is it so highly debated?”. Censorship can be described as the suppression of public communication or sensitive information in order to conceal information considered objectionable, harmful or redundant from the general public—generally to avoid protests or civil unrest. It is typically conducted by government officials and private institutions.
A benefit of censorship is its prevention of cyber-bullying rates and with 41% of children developing social anxiety through excessive hate speech, censorship is needed urgently to prevent cyber-bullying. Moreover, censorship, without a doubt, prevents the spread of misinformation. In fact, a study conducted by PEW showed that 55% of Americans received their news from uncensored social media platforms like Facebook, leading to a huge spread of fake news that is even more damaging during the pandemic. Moreover, a lack of censorship allows inappropriate or illicit content to be published onto the internet, allowing any individual to access this content with a simple click of the mouse. In fact, over 90% of individuals aged 8-16 have been exposed to some form of pornography on the internet and this number is getting higher at an alarming rate.
On the other hand, many argue that censorship reduces freedom of expression and the willingness to speak up. In a country where internet censorship is practiced, a social media post against a figure in power could be enough for an arrest warrant to be issued. When freedom of speech is restricted, many may feel afraid of speaking out about unjust practices in society. In the name of blocking harmful information, censorship could potentially restrict real information that empowers local communities.
The question we ponder over today is whether censorship is fair or not and where the line is drawn between keeping citizens happy and shielding the truth. So, what do you think: innovative or immoral?