Home > Blog, Technology > Morality on the internet (revisited)

Morality on the internet (revisited)

I published the article morality on the internet on 11th November 2010. To say I was surprised at the feedback and viewings I received over the days that followed,  is an understatement. I was overwhelmed, (happily), with over three thousand people reading my article in two days. The article proved to be thought-provoking and topical, but also uniting people. This could be due to the fact censorship affects everyone (using the internet) in one way or another.

My blog post was featured on the WordPress home page for a couple of days:

My blog featured on the homepage of WordPress, 11-13 November 2010

I received numerous comments on my article, for and against. Then I paused to stop and think. What is my blogs intention?

This blog is (worth) one unit in my university degree (second year) out of a total of six units. The project (assignment) is to create a website displaying my work, opinions and ability to communicate in a socially (internet) dominated world. So in my blog world, did I want comments from other people containing expletives? Anger towards myself (the author) of my piece of writing? Censorship. This sudden arousal of thoughts made me stop in my tracks. From this personal thought and experience meant I could empathise with both sides of the ‘Morality on the internet’ discussion.

To provide more depth and breadth on how other blog users dealt with commenting upon articles I went to the well-known and trusted website of the BBC. The House Rules for blogs on the BBC offer guidance to readers on what they can write in response to an article.

Digressing slightly from the previous paragraph, I found it interesting to remember and note the ‘old’ censorship news over the last few years, Google use- banned in China back in 2002, and you may remember the lecturer banning students from using Google and Wikipedia, 2008. One of several reasons for these actions being taken could be the freedom and exposure these websites offered to people. Students could be reading facts that were potentially incorrect or ill-informed and using these in their studies. China, a larger scale example than the latter, but sharing the same goal, trying to gain control (through censorship).

So where does this leave me to conclude? Well in fact it doesn’t. Having experienced ‘a mild form of censorship’ since posting my original article, I think it is important to recognise perhaps websites need to initially set guidelines and a visible statement of what they offer so that users clearly know what they are getting and these are set in stone. As websites may, as proved above, be restricted to certain users in the future. Censorship should be recognisable on an internet website and users should be given access to this knowledge. Then users will know how the website is constructed and how it will respond and fulfil a users demand. For example, how a website would react to a search for “anything.

It may be considered a contradiction that I have created my own house rules for my blog but this has led me to draw points to help form a conclusion from my previous article. Censorship offers control, and perhaps in certain situations control is needed. However, users should be fully aware if their content has been restricted or reduced. If I had not seen the Google censorship article, potentially, as a (passive) user searching for suicide I would have overlooked the first result of the search, the help line. I would have been none the wiser about the censorship.

Therefore if censorship is to be appreciated and in some ways, understood, amongst the public, it has to be defined and explained fully when, why and where it is happening or otherwise users can feel cheated, disappointed and lose trust in a society or organisation. This can also give users more choice. A user can decide whether they want to be in a controlled environment or not. It opens the possibility to a clearer distinction and less friction being caused.

Up until this point I have not had the chance to experience or appreciate censorship, however, since, being exposed to the choice on whether to approve comments upon my page, I had the power of censoring. So should we be knowledgable of when censorship occurs? Will this help? Will we ever truly know all?

House rules for Rebecca’s World

House rules are to ensure my blog is respected and enjoyed by all users.

I reserve the right to deny comments to my articles or blog that:

  • Contain swear words or other loaded language that could or is likely to cause offence
  • Are considered abusive, sexist, sexually explicit, homophobic or racist
  • Are not concerning or relating to the article or blog (off-topic)
  • Are containing direct and personal contact details
  • Are breaking the law or condoning unlawful behaviour

Please offer your opinions to my follow-up article as I would be extremely grateful. How does your blog operate?

  1. jean-philippe
    November 15, 2010 at 11:45 PM

    I see censorship as a collective problem.

    A country, a city, a school censoring a point of view (like, let’s say, “evolution based on scientific evidences”) takes away knowledge and freedom.

    Censorship is about how we live together, how we can tolerate different point of views.

    History shows how it can get ugly when the diversity of opinions gets limited.

    Fortunately, we as individuals don’t carry that responsability. There’s a lot of ideas and books we don’t like and it’s all right. As long as we don’t try to keep other people away from them.

    • November 16, 2010 at 10:17 PM

      Censorship seems to be a never ending discussion and I think you highlight an important fact that it is a collective problem. Thank you for your contribution and feel free to browse my blog and offer further insight on articles. Rebecca.

  2. November 16, 2010 at 3:35 AM

    Well, you’re certainly doing well on your assignment objective! 😆

    I think censorship, in one form or another, is something that we’ll never be able to get away from, much as we might say we want to.

    Also, much as we might say, “censorship takes away freedom”, I think that’s only true once censorship has really reached a level of social oppression (eg: Google in China, etc). However, censorship can also be seen as having the opposite effect, when used correctly.

    There is a certain way in which censorship allows us to live more freely, by allowing us the opportunity to exercise personal choice. You have the right to choose which comments you will and will not allow on your blog. Harking back to my comment on your original article, I have the right, as an adult, to choose whether or not I wish to visit a site that is rated 18+, and parents (should) have the right to know that their under-18yo kids aren’t going to be seeing 18+ images on a site that claims to be rated PG 13+.

    But it’s more than that. I have the right to walk down the street without having to worry about having obscenities called out at me – that’s censorship. Parents have the right to know that TV shows aren’t going to be dropping the “F” bomb and the “C” bomb at 3pm when their toddlers are around – that’s censorship. How many people are going to argue against those?

    We all have a right to personal freedom, but my personal freedom ends where yours begins. Some level of censorship is going to be needed, in order to make sure that my personal freedom does not encroach upon yours.

    When censorship encroaches oppressively upon personal freedoms and basic human rights, then you have a problem. But it’s never black and white. It’s always going to be a slippery slope and a very fine balancing act, and as soon as we think we’ve got the balance right, something will happen and we’ll have to adjust the balance. We’ll never be able to get the “right” answer on this one.

    • November 16, 2010 at 10:14 PM

      Thank you for your in depth reply, very thought provoking and has given me further avenues to explore (only in my head, as I think my blog would be too monotonous if I base everything around censorship). Rebecca.

  3. sinwithme
    November 16, 2010 at 8:35 AM

    Its good to have some intentions/aims when writing blog,
    I like your house rules. In general I’m against censorship, offensive comments should not be allowed, but again we face general problem of defining what is offensive :).

    • November 16, 2010 at 10:11 PM

      Very true, it comes back to definitions and what could mean one thing to one person, could have an entirely different meaning to someone else. Thank you for your comment, I appreciate the feedback, Rebecca.

  4. November 16, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    I’m not to keen on Censorship, to me it means not showing the reality but only part of it. If you arouse a debate its better to show the true reality even if it is for or against – but censoring does not give you the real debate or engagement.

    Censorship in some instances can be justified if it is to shield one from offence, abuse or any type of attack.

    • November 16, 2010 at 10:12 PM

      Thank you for your comment and yes I agree, the form of censorship is to shield people from abusive behaviour or attacks. Rebecca

  5. Stephen Mc Elligott
    November 16, 2010 at 5:16 PM

    Creating ones on house rules though could mean we are ever in danger of doing so with a biased outlook on we think Morality is and miss the whole point. for example you made a good houserule that discrimination and vitriol comments upon homosexuals will not be tolerated. Unfortunately somebody else might think the house rule of ”all hate filled comments against homosexuals are welcome” and thus we have two people who retain a completely different outlook upon what morality is.

    Good post Rebecca,
    Pax Christi

  6. November 16, 2010 at 9:51 PM

    You raise good points regarding the ground rules. Personally, I started my blog as way to explore three things that interested me: literature, the arts and spirituality; thus, my blog was mostly personal anecdotes and the sharing of personal experiences. With the hostile climate against Muslims, however, lead me to write some political posts that were being read by the general public. At that point, I also began thinking about the kind of responses I was comfortable with in my blog. While I welcome all opinions, I personally do not tolerate hateful speech against any group of people. Deleting hateful speech from your blog isn’t censorship; In fact, I think it’s the opposite. It allows anyone to feel comfortable to express their own opinions and have intelligent discussions or disagreements without feeling targeted or attacked.
    Also, the purpose of your blog is important. There are blogs and websites for all sorts of opinions—even racist, homophobic, and sexist ones. If comments aren’t relevant to the topic at hand, you can redirect them to a space where their comments will be welcomed.


    • November 16, 2010 at 10:09 PM

      Thank you Maha for your comment I am glad you can relate to my post as well. I have enjoyed looking around your website – it contains some very interesting articles so I will be sure to keep watching your blog.

  7. Stephen Mc Elligott
    November 16, 2010 at 11:59 PM

    but then maha where would be the good morality in directing them to another blog where their comments would be welcomed? surely that would be contradictive of your own blog moral rules and thus encouraging bad moral behaviour?

    On my blog post I certainly dont allow for discriminating behaviour or hateful speech, but I am not prepared to contradict that and direct them somewhere else in which they can spout their hatred some place else, even if that place will welcome such vehement and hateful speech.

    you dont just change the morals to suit the weakness of the person, such an idea makes no sense whatsoever. Society has a habit of saying ”there is a crisis in morals” rather than ”there is a crisis in the human” who fails to apply himself to the morals, thus when the human cannot apply himself to the morals we switch and bend the morals to suit the weakness of the person. Such a move makes no sense for the following reason: a math teacher who is teaching a student who is having trouble making 2+2 make four does not bend the rules and allow him to come up with an answer of 2+2=5, rather he helps the child over come his weakness and helps him to apply himself to the sum and get the sum right.

    The same with humans, often we want to change the morals to suit ourselves rather than apply ourselves to obeying the good moral. Am I to say to a serial killer, ok so your having a hard time commiting the moral of not killing someone, but hey I’ll direct you somewhere to another group of serial killers who agree with you and thus you can go ahead, kill people and have some fun?

    Now I hope maha you will recognise the wild unreasonableness of your response to rebeccas post.


  1. November 17, 2010 at 9:20 AM
  2. November 29, 2010 at 1:26 PM
  3. December 9, 2010 at 10:29 AM

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