PRIME MINISTER Theresa May is to announce that she wants to crack down on social media abuse surrounding political debates due to concerns it may deter women from entering into public sector jobs.
In a speech marking the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, AKA the vote for women, May is set to explain there needs to be more responsible in dealing with online abuse and misogyny towards women who express their political views.
“While there is much to celebrate, I worry that our public debate today is coarsening. That for some it is becoming harder to disagree, without also demeaning opposing viewpoints in the process,” May will say, according to a copy of the speech we’ve found; we don’t own a time machine yet.
“In the face of what is a threat to our democracy, I believe that all of us – individuals, governments, and media old and new – must accept our responsibility to help sustain a genuinely pluralist public debate for the future.”
May will go on to note that a “tone of bitterness and aggression” has entered into public debate and that despite women getting the vote, a lot of abuse and intimidation is directed at political candidates who are female, black or LGBT.
“It is online where some of the most troubling behaviour now occurs… As well as being places for empowering self-expression, online platforms can become places of intimidation and abuse… This squanders the opportunity new technology affords us to drive up political engagement, and can have the perverse effect of putting off participation from those who are not prepared to tolerate the levels of abuse which exist,” she will say.
Strong words from May, who will call upon social media companies to step up and respond positively to address abuse and following recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life that layout actions to tackle such problems.
As one of the relatively few tech websites with a female editor (albeit one with questionable lady-like attributes), we’re all in favour of encouraging women into more public sector and public-facing roles. And we believe that constructive criticism, not abuse is the way to get the most out of the internet.
However, there’s an argument that cracking down on certain behaviours on social networks could be seen as an infringement upon freedoms of speech and expression.
That being said, behaving like a colossal misogynist and bigoted prick online is often against social media policies, and freedom of speech is also the freedom to shut-up and let people get on with their lives.
So if May can tackle online abuse yet not end-up with a social media Snoopers’ Charter, then more power to her. µ
Source : Inquirer