An important issue in the discussion about life in a Web 2.0 Family, involves the legal ramifications to site hosts where millions of people come to post their own content, some of it objectionable, some of it meeting the definitions of cyberbullying and sexting.
There is an interesting article posted today by Reuters about the "alleged" pressure being added to Google and Facebook over the content that's posted on these sites as others seek to find a deep-pocketed scapegoat for when something bad goes wrong. I do not understand this way of thinking.
I would suppose you should add YouTube to the mix as well. After all, they're now said to be the second largest search engine on the Internet.
Reuters posted: "Although Google, Facebook and their rivals have enjoyed a relatively 'safe harbor' from prosecution over user-generated content in the United States and Europe, they face a public that increasingly is more inclined to blame them for cyber-bullying and other online transgressions."
To me this feels like more like one of those media-generated theories instead of the focus on plain old common sense, but they do cite the ruling in Italy from Feb. 24 where executives from Google were convicted over a bullying video posted on the site. Yes, what happened to an autistic boy over the Net was horrible, but was Google to blame for it? Google has responded to the case by saying they are "deeply troubled" by the case, saying it "attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built."
In our discussion on BlogTalkRadio yesterday, we talked about whose responsibility it is to teach children about the dangers of sexting and cyberbullying. You can listen to the show my jumping over to the front page of DaddyClaxton.com and clicking the BlogTalkRadio icon.
To me, there is clearly the need for some sort of multi-national conventions when it comes to the Internet. I'm not for censorship any more than most Americans, but we live in a world where other governments are all for it. And just like the Net Neutrality battle has raged here in the US and in the Congress, this will continue to be an issue for several years to come.
We clearly are in a time period of the Internet's life where adjustments in law are needing consideration and in some cases revision. The problem is there is likely never going to be a one-size fits all solution to the laws surrounding what happens on the Internet, and maybe there shouldn't be. Just as the Internet is free, so, too, should the people of each nation be able to decide their laws and not be bound by what is necessarily the law in a foreign nation.
It's a sticky wicket, but my gut is telling me that the providers of the platforms of the Net bare some responsibility for what goes up on their pages, but to hold them legally negligent for what others do or say on their sites seems like an awful stretch.