Technology is a poor substitute for morality

In the real world, there are limits on free speech. Online, anything goes.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: SME)

In the real world, there are limits on free speech. Some of them are quite smart. One classic question is whether a person should have the right to falsely yell “fire” in a crowded theater? Even in democratic systems, the answer is no, because guaranteeing this individual right — which is likely to incite a dangerous panic — infringes on the safety rights of everybody else, who likely be harmed in the resulting stampede.

On the internet these same concepts of responsibility tend not to apply. Online, anything goes, and thinking about consequences in advance is condemned as some near-authoritarian violation of speech rights.

Facebook is now, justifiably, facing widespread criticism for sharing the private data of 50 million users — yes, 50 million — with the firm Cambridge Analytica, which then used that data to manipulate voters in the United States, United Kingdom and elsewhere on behalf of its clients. Along with Facebook’s willingness to sell advertising to anybody willing to pay, the company is predicated on subsuming more and more of the world’s communication into their private — it is private, and for profit — network, no matter the consequences.

The rest of this article is premium content at Spectator.sk
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on Spectator.sk
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on Sme.sk and Korzar.sk

Top stories

News digest: Slovakia records highest number of positive cases since mid-April

Covid spreads mostly in schools. Bratislava ring road stretches to open on Sunday. Slovak water slalom athletes successful at world championships.


13 h
arrested Pavol Ďurka of NAKA specialised team Purgatory heading to Bratislava' district court.

How an anti-team dismantled an elite police team with the help of the secret service

Hints of a possible coalition break-up over rule of law not materialising for now.


21. sep
In this photo taken from video, Slovakia's President Zuzana Čaputová remotely addresses the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in a pre-recorded message, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 at U.N. headquarters.

President to the UN Assembly: Where scientists succeeded, politics is still failing

Zuzana Čaputová recalled the words Pope Francis addressed to Slovak youth during his recent visit to Slovakia.


20 h
Monika Tódová

Charges against Denník N journalists dropped

The decision came after the general prosecutor ordered the regional prosecutor to examine the legitimacy of the charges.


21. sep
Skryť Close ad