Freedom of Speech and Social Media – What You Need to Know

Naeelah Desanges, Reporter

Throughout our country’s history, freedom of speech has been one of our most exercised rights as American Citizens. It was established in the first amendment of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution. It is used through protests and marches or even voicing an opinion on social media. Many fail to realize that having the freedom and ability to speak your mind does not exempt you from the repercussions that may follow because of what you are saying.

Our words have power. We are taught from a young age to speak to others politely and that bullying has lasting effects whether we notice them or not. Why is it so much easier to spew hate and harmful messages online? An icon represents the affected person, and it’s easier to bully an icon than an actual person. We should all keep the golden rule in mind when using social media because cyberbullying is more common than traditional bullying due to how popular social media has become.

Social media has made it possible for individuals across the globe to stay connected. Messages and media can travel at record speeds. According to the United States Courts, using speech that “incite actions that would harm others” or “incites imminent lawless action” is not protected by the constitution. We need to understand that the Freedom of Speech amendment will not shield us from the consequences of spreading hate. As Uncle Ben once said to our friendly neighborhood Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” With that in mind, having access to the internet for social reasons is a privilege and can be taken away if it is abused.

Whether you are a teenager, a senior citizen, or even the President of the United States, being conscientious of what you post on social media is just as important as what you say in person.