OPINION: Social media and freedom of speech

Voice of the Fens

Voice of the Fens - Credit: Archant

The essential tools of our trade remain, as they have always been, words. Finding the right ones, constructing sentences, telling stories. It’s a craft as old as time itself.  

Sometimes, in the haste to hit deadlines, file copy, complete one task and move to another, we fail to find the right words and in serious cases, a prompt apology follows or a lesson is learnt.  

Responsible journalism requires it.  

But what of social media? What of the vitriol and viciousness to be found there?  

We do, of course, monitor our social media accounts and recognise the importance of freedom of speech. It is vital we allow differences of political thought to be aired.  

But there are times when, quite simply, individuals need to consider for themselves the potential outcome of their words.  

Freedom of speech ought not be an opportunity for all and sundry, hiding behind a keyboard, to attack individuals, to settle old scores for not being in the same political party or opting for a different lifestyle.  

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We have seen petty grievances escalate way beyond civilised comment or thought.  

Fairness, decency and kindness matter.