It's always a hot topic. How should sensitive material be handled on social media. Similar to forcing watershed times on television programs, there's a bit of a movement now to start filtering out sensitive material on social media.
Let me preface this with: I am a parent. I have a young child and I know it will be a scary world filled with information I need to potentially shield him from. This post is about where the responsibility lies, and how it should be handled in this social world, starting with Twitter.
Recently Twitter released a policy update to start to filter for 'sensitive media:'
"Our goal is to provide a service that allows you to discover and receive content from sources that interest you as well as to easily share your content with others. We also want you to understand our guidelines for making sure your content is labeled appropriately. For the most part, using common sense won't steer you wrong. If you upload media that might be considered sensitive content such as nudity, violence, or medical procedures, you should consider applying the account setting "Mark my media as containing sensitive content". We do not mediate content, whether that content is an image or text; however, some content is not permissible by law. All content should be marked appropriately as per our guidelines. You may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities. International users agree to comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content."
Seems reasonable enough, but one has to wonder if this is the first step to trying to moderate free speech on social media. Granted, I don't have the right to yell "Fire" in a Theater, but if I'm a hateful, spiteful so and so and I want to tweet it out 140 characters at a time surely it's my prerogative?
Who's Responsible For Your Kids?
This announcement brought up strong feelings in the developer world as well. @ForrestBlack Forrest Black voiced his concern about "shared responsibility": "I don't think I should be forced to live within the sensitivity level of your children or face having a significantly curtailed account for myself. Why should my account be relegated to some tripple-X redlight district people would have to opt into just to see, because you didn't control your access? Not trying to be rude, but for the sake of this debate, your children are not my responsibility. I can't tell you how to raise them or the values you should give them or even know wha t trips your sensitivity meter, so why do you get to do that to me? If you kids see things they shouldn't, wouldn't it make more sense to curtail your access, not mine? (and I'm not really attacking you, I think we kind of agree, I just don't want to get put into some porn ghetto wasteland because someone in Singapore didn't like my decadent lifestyle or whatever.)"
I'm in agreement with @ForresBlack, though I highly doubt putting people in a "porn ghetto" is really the intention. It's a tough situation. Social media is easily accessible and one of the easiest ways to broadcast a point of view, be it a nice or a nasty one, but I'm always for the free market. Twitter is ideal for letting the market decide - if someone is horrible, they will have no followers. And if they have a lot of followers well then I guess a lot of people want to see what they have to say. It doesn't mean I'll let my son read it...
More Than Unfollow?
I'm nervous this could be the first step to closing a once very open community to free speech and multiple points of view. What do you think? Is Twitter better left alone, or should I be more open to the idea of filtering out content based on someone not liking what I have to say? Do we need more than a simple, "unfollow?"
Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/asiaticleague/409445890/sizes/o/in/photostream/