The Internet is not an excuse for bullying or abuse

I am a firm believer in free speech and freedom to speak; but freedom always has a price. The price on the Internet is that it's self regulated: i.e. you are required to moderate yourself, to be honest with yourself and understand the consequences of what you say and do. I comment on this blog, twitter, Facebook and loads of other places and I do so without anonymity and I fully understand the consequences. Many I know are too cowardly to put their own name to their words, they hide behind alias' – but that's fine too, as long as they understand that they are still responsible. Most Internet connections are heavily monitored by ISP's with actions taken by users – file sharing, abuse, hate speech, etc – all easily discovered and traced.

As long as people recognise this there should be no problem – quite often though they assume that anonymous comments and fake alias are enough to hide them from accountability. Free from inhibitions because they are hidden behind what they perceive as a shroud of secrecy, their words, their emails, their blog entries, can all become something that is unacceptable to society and to their peers. If their words were spoken in public to their family, friends and community would it be acceptable?

The Internet is not an excuse for anonymously bullying or abusing other people. It is an excuse to learn more about the people around you and throughout the world. To understand their needs and desires. To understand how you can help and how together we are not too different. The Internet does not directly convey age, sex, religion, class or even politics. It's only in how we describe ourselves and how others describe us that communities all over the world can form a view of us.

So please go out there on the Internet. Voice your opinion. Be proud of what you say and don't be shy – be prepared to be accountable.

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The Internet is not an excuse for bullying or abuse by Adrian Hollister is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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