Cyber Trolls, Death Threats and the First Amendment

WED, MAR 15, 2017 (1:27:49)

In October 2016, Politico reporter Hadas Gold wrote an article about the presidential campaign and was met with a litany of Naziesque death threats. She received a photoshopped image of herself with a bloody bullet hole to her forehead and a yellow “Jude” star, as Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany, on her chest.

From journalists and activists, to doctors and politicians, death threats, and particularly anti-Semitic and anti-women cyber threats, have become common fodder on social media. The mechanisms of the internet – its global reach, immediacy and anonymity – have exposed an ugly underbelly of targeted hate. As they consider user rights and First Amendment freedoms, social media platforms are grappling with whether to police, or even prosecute, these threats.

On the internet, the push and pull between hate speech and freedom of speech reflects a new frontier in the pursuit of an ethical society. Is there a road back to civility? How far can the First Amendment be reasonably stretched? Should journalists and others under threat simply double down, or is self-censorship the way forward?

(Photo: Pixbay)

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