Youth voice – Censorship of social media

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SOCIAL media is used by diverse individuals of varying ages, and like all forms of media, censorship is crucial in portraying a moral standard of life, as viewers can be subconsciously influenced and may register bad behaviour as idealistic.

Despite this assumed degree of cruciality for censorship, these platforms remain mostly uncensored, resulting in multiple impressionable children, or other vulnerable groups becoming desensitised to violence, sexualised material, and other unethical circumstances.

It has been documented that as of 2018, Facebook has amassed 2.27 billion users. This mind-blowing statistic provides vital insight into the difficulty of monitoring every single post and gives justification as to why social media as a whole is reliant on the individual to report objectionable content.

Violence and gore are the most prevalent examples of lacklustre censorship on these platforms, with a multitude of Facebook and Instagram pages dedicated to displaying accounts of physical assault, animal abuse, as well as death in either the context of accidental events or suicide.

Considering scientists have stated that a young adult’s brain is not fully developed until the age of 25, this poses a grave concern for the psychological wellbeing of individuals exposed to such material. Out of Instagram’s 1 billion users, 36 percent are under the age of 24, highlighting the severity of mass desensitization as a legitimate issue.

Whilst scrolling through Instagram, I stumbled upon a page whose posts were a culmination of all three examples of violence and gore. I was traumatized not solely by one of their posts exhibiting a man’s attempt to commit suicide, but the comments regarding the individual in the video with varied users choosing to write comedic responses to such grievous circumstances.

This utter lack of empathy for what the victim must have endured preceding this attempt on his own life, as well as the absence of respectfulness entirely, considering the posts blatant breach of privacy, as exhibited via the comical nature of the video and its responses, are in pure disregard of his presumably mourning family.

This is merely one among multiple posts I found examples not only on the account in question but multiple Instagram pages, which to me illustrates how detached from a normalised emotional state most of the youth are becoming.

The owners of these social media websites should be taking action, as the problem isn’t solely the desensitizing nature of these graphic videos, but their accessibility.
Charles R. Mullin a lecturer from the University of California demonstrated within private testing that viewers may recover sensitivity rather quickly provided they are not exposed to additional violent depictions, meaning that if censorship was prioritized this hypothetical scenario of mass desensitisation could be avoided.

However, that’s where another issue arises. The foretasted method in which social media websites censor and monitor posts is through a user reporting what they believe is objectionable content. The fact of the matter is that these pages have amassed dedicated followings who aid in preserving the content by supporting their posts, equating to these websites dismissing these reports as one off claims, as one of the thousands who follow the page seemingly have a problem.

Taking all these facts into consideration, I believe the mass desensitisation of this generation’s youth is reversible, however it’s reliant on the websites of social media.

If they were to alter their method of censorship, and the regulations regarding it, then the emotional state of those affected will be salvaged and maintained, although, without change I among many others will ponder, where will it lead the next generation?

Rayna Ledbetter
Whakatane High School

-Contributed