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“Freedom of speech depends not only on the mere absence of state censorship, but also on an infrastructure of free expression. Properly designed, it gives people opportunities to create and build technologies and institutions that other people can use for communication and association. Hence policies that promote innovation and protect the freedom to create new technologies and applications are increasingly central to free speech values…. The tension in twenty-first century free speech theory is somewhat different: New technologies offer ordinary citizens a vast range of new opportunities to speak, create and publish; they decentralize control over culture, over information production and over access to mass audiences” (Taken from Balkin article).
The article presented in the link above is a perfect example of the controversial situations that are taking place over the “censoring” of online videos (or some form of expression) on youtube.com and other “express yourself” websites. The article discusses a case, and other similar situations, where a man trying to educate the world on the violence and torture of Egyptian got his account temporarily removed and his videos permanently deleted from the web.
As the article stated, “…new technology is aiding their efforts in increasing awareness about the injustices taking place in censorship-ridden societies.” All that Wael Abbas wanted to do was to somehow show the world of this inequality happening in Egypt and maybe motivate more fortunate people to somehow help. Because let’s be honest, what’s so wrong about wanting civil rights in Egypt? Absolutely nothing. In fact, this cause of equality in Egypt is a lot better than the majority of crap that gets spewed onto random websites. The kicker is that the videos that were deleted were not even all violent or graphic. Of course, some of them were, but others were not graphic or controversial in any way. Just because Abbas was associated with the post, Youtube decided to remove the harmless videos as well as the controversial ones.
Obviously, this decision by Youtube has made people both angry and relieved. Either way citizens fall (either agreeing with the removal or protesting it), people feel very passionate about their beliefs and will not go down without a fight. Both arguments (for and against censoring) are convincing, but the fact that Youtube took off the non-controversial videos too just because they were posted by Abbas does not seem right.
Freedom of speech is an important thing, but Youtube also has a website policy that is not allowed to be violated by people using their site. Contributers to Youtube should read the policy before submitting things to the site, so then they know if it is “legal” within Youtube standards, and they wont have to go through this “deletion” process.
There is no black and white answer, which clearly makes the whole situation difficult. Youtube has the right to remove inappropriate things that could be harmful to some people, but Americans also have the right of free speech and expression, regardless of how it affects others (whether that be for the better or worse…).
I believe there needs to be a happy medium between what is censored and what isn’t. There should be places that censoring is encouraged, but also places where anything goes and people may “enter at their own risk”.