Google Chairman and Free Speech

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Google Chairman and Free Speech

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt put himself in the front lines of one of the most intense Internet debates today. The debate is freedom of speech vs fighting terrorism, hate speech, bullying and other online ills.

In a NY Times op-ed, Schmidt suggested tools like spell-checkers to control tensions. These spell-checkers would keep hate speech and harassment in check. But in the same statement, he suggested stability and freedom of expression go hand in hand. Schmidt didn’t elaborate too much more than this. But Schmidt insists tech platforms like this should only target terrorist groups. Online speech is a hot issue in this election. Hilary Clinton called on Silicon Valley to find a way to stop ISIS‘s online communication. At a South Carolina rally, Donald Trump suggested we close the Internet on some level, and mocked those who would criticize this move in the name of free speech. The rise of terrorist groups like ISIL uses social media for recruitment purposes and to brag about their hideous atrocities. But that’s not all. There have been calls to stop those who use social media as a tool of hatred against others. This is what social media entities like https://geekchoice.com/2015/08/28/facebook-turns-a-billion/, Twitter and Google have been wrestling with for years.

On the other side, civil libertarians and free speech advocates have a valid point. Nobody, whether it be governments, social media entities, or hackers, should use terrorism or hatred as an excuse to trample on the civil rights of innocent Americans. On the other hand, something needs to be done to stop ISIS’s demonic propaganda online. The last thing these thugs need is to use the computer as a recruitment tool. So how do tech leaders balance that? How do we as online consumers balance that? Does Google Chairman Eric Schmidt have a point on these spell-checkers?  Or is Schmidt going too far?

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