When our group was first given the topic of freedom on the internet to investigate, I was open to what kind of views the subject might bring. At first, after thinking about it and researching some information I was completely for freedom on the internet. In fact, my last post talking about freedom on the internet supported that freedom in a positive light. I felt that everyone should have their freedom on the internet, be able to express themselves and say what they feel and please. However, after doing a little bit more research and thinking, I feel as though I was wrong. Freedom of speech on the internet is something that comes with limitations and can be completely abused by certain people who use it for the wrong reasons.
Cyber-bullying on the internet has become a big issue today. Many children are being harassed and teased through communication on the internet and it these harsh words are something that can have a great effect on those child’s lives. It happens on many different social media sites on the internet. I’ve seen it so many times before on Facebook, Twitter, and even blogs created by those with negative feelings towards someone else, and even privately through IM’s and private chats. Internet users just throw negative words around as though they do not have consequences, but the truth is they do.
I just read a story about a boy named Ryan Halligan. He unfortunately took his own life in 2003. His parents were in extreme disbelief at the loss of their son and did not fully understand what may have lead Ryan to his final actions, but after some investigating they found the culprit that pushed him to do it: cyber bullying. Ryan had been picked on and bullied through out his schooling career but months before he died things got better for Ryan. He believed that he became friends with the boy that had been bullying him in school and was so excited about it that he relayed the message to his parents. Trusting his new friend, Ryan shared some information with him over the internet about a story that was embarrassing for him. He thought his new friend would keep this story safe, but instead he spread the information all over the internet and started a rumor about Ryan being gay. As if this wasn’t enough, a girl from his middle school also had part in it. Over the summer she talked to Ryan everyday on the internet and agreed to be his girlfriend, but as soon as they got back to school she laughed in Ryan’s face in front of all of her friends and made fun of him breaking the news that she was just joking about everything that she said online. The humiliation and constant teasing that followed soon became too much for Ryan to handle. This is not something that should happen to any child. It is cruel and uncalled for and should be kept from being displayed on the internet.
Yes, internet users deserve their freedom of speech and expression on the internet, but only with good intentions. Bad intentions that could have such negative and harmful effects on a person’s life is a serious matter that should be excluded from this freedom and have action taken against it so others wont have to go through anything like what Ryan went through. Controlled freedom is the key to internet use and if not disrespected or abused could make the internet a very happy and pleasant place.