Watch what you say online
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 00:09
During the last week, the United States has witnessed many Middle Eastern nations protest against our freedom-loving country.
Protesters in Lebanon set a Kentucky Fried Chicken on fire. Massive demonstrations were organized. Last Tuesday evening, U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other diplomats were killed in Benghazi, Libya. And the list goes on.
What instigated this anti-American hatred? The answer is a YouTube video.
Such individuals as Sam Bacile, an unknown producer who is using “Bacile” as a pseudonym, put together the low-budget anti-Islamic film “Innocence of Muslims” and had the trailers uploaded to YouTube in July 2012. While the film’s producers had a field day manipulating their First Amendment rights to ridicule Muslims and Mohammad, the Egyptian TV station Al-Nas TV broadcast the video on Sept. 8, giving some Arabs a reason to be ticked off.
Extremist politicians used the video to gain support for their parties, and in places like Libya, innocent people faced the consequences of such Internet irresponsibility.
Should Nakoula and Bacile have made such a vulgar film? Probably not. If the film really was financed by more than 100 Jewish donors, then I would have expected the screenplay to have better quality, but the film was disgusting. I am a Christian, but I do not understand why anyone has to create a film that antagonizes people of another faith.
That is not what is important. What is important is that the Middle Eastern peoples would have never known such a film was made had it not been for one thing: the Internet.
What people fail to realize is that the Internet is a public space. Once you post something, anyone can find it, and sometimes what you post can have serious consequences.
Google “controversial tweets” or “controversial posts” and you will see what I mean. Athletes have entertained us for years with their tweets from locker rooms and sidelines (just ask Chad Ochocinco how big a fine he had to pay). Celebrities tweet dumb things, too. People constantly post tweets without considering the repercussions.
The Chick-Fil-A controversy was fuelled by the Internet. Anything a person says, whether in an interview, like Dan Cathy, or blog post, could end up circulating on the Internet and igniting protests. Some people, like the man who harassed a Chick-Fil-A employee over gay rights, lose their jobs because of what they say online. Canada has its moments too – Rogers Communications let go broadcaster Damian Goddard over anti-gay tweets.
Worse yet, though, is Facebook, a dangerous ground to tread. Brandon Raub, a former U.S. Marine from Virginia, was arrested in August for alleged anti-government Facebook posts. The FBI treated him as a terrorist.
What we need to learn is what I call “online responsibility” – thinking before posting. The next time you are on a social media site or blogging, think twice before you hit “enter.” You never know who might unearth your post and make a big deal out of it.