Don’t shoot the messenger!

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Google finds itself in hot water today as an Italian court has convicted three of its execs in a trial over a video showing an autistic teenager being bullied. As keen social media-moguls, the Peppermints have been in lively debate about the case – there’s no denying that this type of content can be deemed offensive but should it be censored or should we be able to access the good, the bad and the ugly?

Some media coverage has argued that the employees in question should be held accountable for their actions, and are responsible for the quality of content uploaded. But social media sites have reached such popularity because of their user-generated content – for this to be subject to strict controls would go against the very essence of the medium. We use social media as a communication platform and user-generated content should also be user-moderated. Most sites have adopted this policy and if users see something they disapprove of, they can report it and request that it be removed.

In some coverage, the case has been compared to prosecuting the postman for delivering hate mail. How can individual Google employees be accountable for an upload of content onto the site?  Surely it should be the user that takes the rap for it? This is not to mention the logistical nightmare this would present for YouTube. Imagine the manpower that would be needed to trawl through all the videos on submission, ensuring each one conforms with guidelines – this would be nigh on impossible.

We relish the free speech that social media brings and we work tirelessly to harness the benefits it can bring to our clients – now we need to take on (and be allowed to take on) the responsibility that comes with it.