Should there be international regulations on social media to protect users?

Social media is a tool which has changed the world. In the press of a button, we can communicate from others all over the world. Whilst it allows a vast amount of education, creativity and facilitates personal growth, it can also be incredibly dangerous when abused. Social media is widely unregulated, which has led to multiple injustices to be carried out from terrorist organisations spreading their indoctrinating messages, to a mental health epidemic spreading throughout younger users due to over-consumption of unattainably beautiful, edited content. International standards are guidance regulations created by international organisations which are used globally. They are used to ease differences across cultures, whilst also maintaining safe standards in different areas of the globe. In the context of social media, it’s hard to define what rules we as users should follow due to the huge place the platforms hold in daily life.

From an ethical standpoint it can be interpreted that all users of the internet should follow communitarianism, as we all have the responsibility to ensure that we are only posting content which won’t harm any potential viewers. Furthermore, the implementation of the report function across most platforms further communicates this as the responsibility of regulation has been placed upon the user and not the organisation. However, as everyone viewing the content is likely to have a different opinion, it’s unrealistic to expect the day-to-day user of social media to find the same content inappropriate. This is clear in society from many subjective issues which have only arisen due to social media. For example, in Jesy Nelsons music video for her single ‘Boyz’ many viewers thought she was 'blackfishing' and appropriating aspects of black culture by using stereotypes heavily, but some found it totally appropriate. Due to this massive difference in opinion, how can the general user be expected to be responsible for regulation?

In my opinion, it is impossible for social media organisation to regulate all content which gets posted on to their platform. It may be possible to create some form of algorithmic regulator through will all content posted gets vetted before going live, however this will limit the creativity which internet users currently have. I do believe it’s possible to find a golden mean where we can responsibly use the internet, but this is only reachable by some international standards created by governments from different countries. It’s no secret that social media has redefined the current beauty standard in modern society to an unattainable image. I believe that appearance-altering filters are partially to blame for this, and the latest whistle-blower from Facebook suggests that there is research which demonstrates a link between over-consumption of edited content and feelings of low self-esteem. Therefore, it can be thought that a disclaimer which pops up before users view edited content could greatly benefit the user and should perhaps be implemented as an international standard across all platforms globally. A similar function could be implemented for many different issues such as influencer endorsements to make it clear to the user when they are seeing content which could be dishonest.

Overall, I think social media needs more regulatory features to protect users. However, I can appreciate how difficult this issue is due to clashing cultures, the importance of creativity and differing human opinion. Do you think the internet should be more regulated?

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