The pros and cons of internet censorship have been at the root of much debate over the past few years. The purpose of internet censorship is to control, remove, or suppress information online that has been published. Formally known as the “information superhighway” the internet is a place where all ages visit.
There are many benefits and disadvantages of censorship on the internet. Even more so, there is a fine line between freedom of the press and publishing violent, obscene or dangerous content. Anyone has the ability to go online, no matter if it is a 5-year-old or a 65-year-old.
How do you find a balance between right and wrong? We are here to discuss internet censorship’s pros and cons so you can take a stance on this highly debated subject.
What is Internet Censorship?
There are many pros of internet censorship as it works to prevent sites from publishing graphic and explicit content. We all remember these terrorist videos that were leaked on Facebook; this is not something you would expect on a family-friendly social media website.
Should the internet be censored?
First of all, internet censorship protects your children from accessing harmful and inappropriate information (i.e. murders or even decapitation videos). This is one reason why many people argue why censorship is good for the community at large.
From the other perspective, censorship limits the freedom you have online. Skeptics of the practice argue that internet censorship leads to the loss of freedom and the free access to information, regardless of its attributes. Using their arguments: Censorship restricts your ability to view the content you want to see when you want to see it. How can censorship be good when access to information is limited?
INTERNET CENSORSHIP PROS – Why Internet Censorship is Good
By its very definition, prudence is having a cautious mindset of knowing what is the right thing to do. Most users have the decency and common sense not to post something online that society would consider unhealthy or inappropriate content. The key here is “most users”. Internet users come in all varieties.
If you visit Google (without filters enabled) there are some gory videos depicting murders and other high-level crimes, including information related to:
- Illicit drugs
- Sexual assault
- Sex trafficking
- Identity theft
- Threats to law enforcement agencies and personnel
Internet censorship offers a means of limiting the number of harmful videos or other forms of offensive content your children have access to. In simple terms, internet censorship provides a tool to limit access or even block access to content that can cause irreparable harm to young people. Proponents of internet censorship argue that censorship works to protect people with a common sense approach to the information that appears on the web.
In the past, users have expressed discomfort knowing that their children have easy access to pornography. Internet censorship methods are implemented to make accessing these sites more difficult. These measures included a question prompt when entering websites “Are you 18 years or older?”
This is a great start but that child can click yes and gain access anyway. Internet censorship has its pros and cons but as long as violent acts are kept offline the internet is already home to endless privacy options.
Helps Protect National Security
Government agencies know that information sharing on the web can threaten national security. Sensitive content, including numerous videos of military movements and tactics, posts about proprietary economic information, or other compromising details can put our country at risk. Although the United States is often thought to be the home of absolute freedom, internet censorship takes on a very real purpose when it used to protect the national economy or other factors that can influence our position on the global market.
Limits Child Pornography and Other Harmful Information
We have all heard of the “dark web“, but does this place really exist? Unfortunately, the answer is yes and these activities occur in places you would never expect. The internet today is nothing like it was years ago, when most users exhibited some form of self censorship. Now, everything goes, and local communities are feeling the pressure to protect free speech while creating internet limits that halt dangerous or harmful content.
Sites like Craigslist and Facebook give individuals access to buy and sell drugs, partake in human trafficking, and even engage in the distribution of child pornography. The dark web has grown dramatically over the past decade to include file-sharing sites like Pirate Bay, TOR, and ISOHunt.
Harmful information goes beyond access to child porn or similar online content. It may also include:
- Hate speech about gender identity or targeting a specific group for threats
- False news
- Details about illegal activities
- Defamatory online content
- Information on how to commit identity theft
Law enforcement agencies worldwide have spearheaded efforts to restrict access to harmful or false information. By restricting access to this content through direct censorship, local authorities and government organizations place common sense limits on the type of content available. Even though many laws seem to overstep personal free speech and other personal freedoms, the driving goal is that internet censorship protects children. Supreme Court decisions on limits to internet speech as they regard freedom of expression are forthcoming.
Proponents of censorship also argue that with the use of internet censorship, it restricts the chances for predators to find targets easily. While internet censorship regulations have lofty goals, online communities have found ways to defeat even the most well-meaning laws.
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Minimizes Risk of Identity Theft and Other Cyber Threats
Cybercrimes are a rising concern in this digital era. People store a lot of their personal and private information on their computers. Without the proper knowledge of passwords and privacy policies, users can leave themselves very vulnerable online. Limiting the amount of information put online can certainly assist in minimizing the threat of these cyber attacks. If internet censorship is designed to prevent access to the tools and strategies used to commit cyber crimes, communities must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of such regulation.
Identity theft cases have skyrocketed in recent years. Criminals know that with access to certain information, such as a person’s driver’s license, mailing address, and Social Security number, he or she can falsify information. With these tidbits, financial crimes have been committed — to such a huge degree that the World Economic Forum has pressured other countries to implement more control over internet traffic. Even more alarming is that criminals know an arrest warrant is unlikely, and if a criminal is caught, the average sentence means that committing internet-based crimes is often worth the risk.
Read our recent blog on National Security Solutions For Corporations to learn more about this. In regard to internet censorship’s pros and cons, for the most part, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Eliminates Misleading/Fake News
With news media sites springing up all over the web, it can be hard to know what is real and what is fake news. Established news outlets like CNN, Fox, and CNBC are not the only players on the web anymore. With the end-goal of profiting only, there are many sites in existence that cash in on providing false, misleading articles online.
By enacting a strong program of internet censorship, this censorship could most likely reduce the amount of fake news. Over the past few election cycles, the sharing of fake news on social media has presented significant challenges. The pros and cons of free speech regulated on social media balance the ability to access information while limiting the spread of potentially harmful — or false — news.
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Censorship programs online provide many benefits, especially if you are struggling with access to violent material, negative information, or harmful content. Online censorship typically cleans that up for you automatically. This also goes for illegal activities and anything that goes against freedom of speech in general. There are several advantages to using automated internet censorship tools, particularly those that target specific websites known for trafficking in false information. More importantly, there are times when personal information is leaked to the web. Strangers can use this information against you, potentially damaging your reputation. Censorship of this content can help protect your privacy and defend your reputation against harm.
INTERNET CENSORSHIP CONS – Why Internet Censorship is Bad
Internet censorship has both advantages and disadvantages. In the above sections, we explored some of the advantages. Here, we will discuss many of the disadvantages of internet censorship and how they can possibly affect human rights of freedom. Private organizations that champion freedom of speech argue that internet censorship creates an unfair playing field — one that can have serious and long-term ramifications regarding freedom. Disadvantages of internet censorship include:
Decrease in the Flow of Information
The amount of factual and real news that is published online will be severely limited when internet censorship is implemented. There are individuals arrested each and every day for sharing inappropriate and illegal content online. Even liking a post on Facebook or commenting on a blog post can land you in a heap of legal trouble.
38 different countries in 2016 made arrests based on something that was posted on social media. Social media dominates in online activity, with billions of daily users across platforms. It is all but inevitable that false content, damaging posts, or defamatory statements will make their way onto these platforms, potentially damaging your reputation. Still, freedom of expression is paramount on these platforms, which position themselves as champions of open speech. Any attempt to stifle open conversations can result in the decrease of information flow.
Regarding the disadvantages of internet censorship, one of the most notable cons of censorship is the cost. It costs money for monitoring the internet. Google has over 2.1 trillion results; with this huge volume of results, it would require a costly process to filter all of the information published online. Many people are all in favor of internet censorship until they realize it will raise their taxes. Financial considerations are always at the forefront of any attempt to clamp down on open internet speech — many an oversight entity has reconsidered its position after seeing the price tag associated with censoring material on the web.
Negative Impact on the Economy
Nowadays there are more and more entrepreneurs born into our economy. With the highest number of startup companies in history, it is important that these businesses can freely promote themselves. The internet has become a primary economic driver, and that is the result of the free exchange of information. Increasing internet censorship could have devastating consequences for local businesses, potentially locking them out of economic opportunities. By losing the freedom to sell your products online, the result may have dire effects on the nation’s economy.
Minimizes Entrepreneurial Efforts
Wrapping up the disadvantages of internet censorship, the whole idea of being an entrepreneur is having the freedom to create and sell anything. Once there is a governing body acting as a mediator, it limits what you can actually do and how successful you will be. The internet may no longer be a viable tool for creating wealth, especially if censorship derails the free exchange of information.
The best example of this would be Nike if you wanted to start your own athletic apparel company it could be nearly impossible. Nike has the wealth and branding power to completely wipe you off of the grid. As a result, internet censorship here would greatly limit the increased flow of innovation. Then end result of this move may result in many monopolies across every industry, with each monopoly positioned due to the loss of free information access.
Should We End Internet Censorship?
While there are plenty of reason one may want to end censorship online, it is not a simple decision to make. Firstly, there are hundreds of millions of stakeholders who rely on information online – be it good or bad. For example, news organizations who provide updates about crimes that may be unsightly to most readers. Does that mean the information should not be accessible online? One alternative to internet censorship could include more robust access requirements, such as age restrictions.
Why Internet Censorship is Important
In conclusion, by now you should have a decent understanding of how the use of internet censorship can positively and negatively affect the economy as well as yourself. Many countries have struggled with the factors that lead to censorship, and most countries continue to balance the advantages and disadvantages. Comment below on your thoughts about internet censorship’s pros and cons. Proponents of stifling the open exchange of ideas on the web often put security over freedom, while those fighting against web censorship argue that internet users should be able to make their own decisions about what can or cannot be posted online. While free speech is important, this freedom must be protected from abuse. We would love to hear what you think.
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If you are struggling with content information and are seeking possible removal options give us a call today. We know sometimes information ends up online that you do not want everyone to see and we can help. Whether your information is on Wikipedia, Google, or a review website, call us today at 844-461-3632 to speak with one of our content removal specialists or to learn more about our wide range of online reputation management services. We look forward to hearing from you.