Editorial: We have a responsibility with Internet, social media

Editorial: We have a responsibility with Internet, social media

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I was scrolling through Facebook this week and noticed quite a few stories that sparked some interest from commentors. I have to remind myself not to read the comments, because they just make me angry. Quite a few of the comments are from people who are outraged by the topic, but never actually read the article. 

This time was no different. One story was about a woman who received public backlash, because she left a review of a restaurant (someone died in the restaurant and she was complaining about her bill). The article went on to say that the Internet can be a tool for people to “slap” others when they get out of line, or say something ridiculous. It can also be used to ostracize people, similar to the days of the Greeks and Romans. But this woman received death threats for her review and carelessness of human life, essentially making those people no better than her. 

At the same time, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his timeline about starting Facebook. A small excerpt caught my attention. It read:  

“Before the Internet, if you had different views or interests from the people in your neighborhood, it was harder to find a community that shared your interests. If someone you knew moved away, you’d often lose touch. If you wanted to raise attention for an issue, you usually had to go through politicians or the press—someone with the power to distribute your message.

“Now, you can connect with anyone and use your voice. You don’t have to go through existing institutions in the same way. People now have much greater power, and that creates opportunity but also new challenges and responsibilities.

“If the first part of this century was about wiring up these networks, the next phase will be about people using these networks to redefine every part of our society. This will require finding the right balance between the freedoms and responsibilities of a connected world.”

One of the responsibilities is how we treat each other online. It doesn’t quite seem like we’ve gotten that one down yet. Here’s hoping that we can learn that responsibility soon and begin treating people online the same way we would face-to-face. 

By Denise DuBois, Executive Editor