Fine line between freedom and hate speech that many don’t consider

PETALING JAYA: With 30.25 million social media users in Malaysia as of January 2022, almost 94% of Malaysians, who are on Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter daily, users of these platforms should realize the effects of their posts on others.

The dean of the Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, Education and Languages ​​at HELP, Dr Gerard Louis, said many use social media without being aware of the consequences of their action online.

“The assumption is that social media users need to know the outcome of their posts before hitting the submit button. Unfortunately, I don’t think that assumption is correct,” he said. the sun commenting on a recent incident where a 39-year-old man, who posted videos of himself spitting slurs against Islam, was arrested by police at Bukit Kuchai in Puchong.

Before his arrest, Internet users angered by his actions went to his home and brutalized him, in addition to giving him an earful.

“Studies show that violent images in the media desensitize people to violence, which in turn promotes aggressive attitudes and behavior.

“When you’re so desensitized to violence, you end up lacking awareness of what you’re saying and doing on social media. You start to think it’s okay. That’s where the tragedy lies,” said said Gerard.

He added that showing signs of narcissism on social media does not mean that a young adult has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

“It’s important to remember that the main distinction between a narcissist and (someone with) NPD is that the former is not mentally ill and does not have a personality disorder.

“Symptoms of NPD include having grandiose ideas about oneself and one’s accomplishments. People with this disorder constantly seek admiration from others and from society as a whole. In addition, they become obsessed with external successes. People with NPD also tend to lack the ability to empathize,” he said.

Meanwhile, social media expert Dr Shafizan Mohamed said people are braver to post hurtful and hateful messages because of “online disembodiment”.

“When people comment on social media, they just type on their computer keyboard and receive no direct feedback or communication. Therefore, there is no filter for comments posted on their feeds. .

“People then tend to feel like there are no rules. The limits that exist in face-to-face physical discussions do not apply to online communication because of this disembodiment,” she said.

The assistant professor at the International Islamic University Malaysia also said studies had shown ‘online disinhibition’, ie the lack of restraint felt when communicating online, compared to communicating in person.

“We no longer feel conscious and sensitive to what we say. For the person posting content, it may seem like they are only open to what they think. However, he does not understand that he is hurtful and in some ways hateful.

“The misinterpretation of freedom of expression can also be a cause. There is a thin line between freedom and hate speech that many do not consider. Just because someone believes they are saying something true doesn’t mean it won’t trigger a negative response from others.

“Hate speech is not only about the content of what is said. It is also about the repercussions that follow. We need to understand the context of the things being said, whether it might offend, etc. “, she said.

On the bright side, many social media apps are becoming increasingly aware and sensitive to hate speech.

“They have come up with ways to report such posts, which they will eventually report. However, while efforts are being made, more can be done to combat these issues,” Shafizan added.

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