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Express & Star comment: Debate on internet is essential

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

It has been a bad few weeks for the internet, culminating in the shocking and appalling situation in which an act of terror was broadcast live to the world.

Should social media giants like Facebook be doing more to stop violence footage being shared?

Even before the terror outrage in New Zealand there was a debate about just what the worldwide web should be.

The man who invented internet had already expressed his horror at the dysfunctional dystopia that the internet has become.

There is also ongoing debate about the impact of social media and the destructive influence it can have through online bullying.

And our trust in the more positive aspects of the internet is also being tested with the news today that millions of people have lost their music collections on MySpace after they were apparently binned.

One gets a sense that we are at a crossroads as the role of the web is considered.

It may be time for leaders around the world to assert greater control on behalf of citizens in different nations.

It may be time for international norms to be applied to a revolutionary technology that presently resembles the Wild West.

For though the world wide web can and has proved to be a force for positive change, the manner in which aspects of it is exploited for nefarious purposes is deeply alarming.

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It can no longer be a space in which the normal rule of law does not apply.

In the case of the terrorist atrocities in New Zealand, it is absolutely wrong that broadcast laws applicable to conventional outlets did not apply to new media.

Thus, shocking images that were the acme of offensiveness and insensitivity were freely distributed by those without a moral compass.

The internet has changed our lives. And in generations to come, its effects will become even more profound as we move towards a world in which artificial intelligence and computerisation becomes ever more prevalent.

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The internet giants are not entirely to blame. This is society’s problem.

But they must do more to make the net a safe space.

It is also time for governments across the world to adopt an interventionist approach so that people are made to be responsible for their actions when they sit behind a keyboard.

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