Yesterday afternoon on a bus to my home town, I was able glance on a copy of a Metro newspaper, more specifically a story about calls for the site Ask.fm to be banned after a 14 year old girl from England (one Hannah Smith) committed suicide supposedly after trolls were posting nasty comments about her. The main source of these calls is her father, naturally, who is not just calling for that particular site to be banned, but also for restrictions to placed on all websites like it. And now I hear people all over calling for Ask.fm to be shut down.
That’s the story anyway. And now for why I think this whole thing is a farce.
Am I hearing this right? We’re supposed to intrude on Internet freedom because a 14-year old girl committed suicide? Let’s think about this rationally for a moment. She probably has no idea what trolls are. Anyone who’s ever been on the Internet knows that trolls post deliberately malicious comments in order to garner attention, mainly negative. If you respond to them with anger, then that’s exactly what they wanted in the first place. If you kill yourself because of what they say, then you are weak (as is your will) and that’s probably what they want anyway. They feed on hatred and weakness, everyone on the Internet knows that. To curtail Internet freedom because of personal weakness is not just oppression, but the height of both irrationality and irresponsibility. So let me ask a perfectly rational question: why should the rest of the Internet and social media suffer because one teenage girl was too weak to not let trolls get to her? Why should Internet freedom be impeded because of one teenager’s weakness?
From what I have heard, Ask.fm is notorious for suicides. But let’s face reality here, how many people use Ask.fm besides the tween and teen demographics. Those kinds of people probably don’t know how to deal with being insulted by trolls, haven’t been taught to have the strength of will to not commit suicide over trolls, and/or don’t yet realize that there is so much more to live for than their tween/teen state of life.
We will not kowtow to mass media pressure to ban whatever they want. You know the only reason this is even a big deal is because the media so loves scandals, and makes so much money off of the ignorant masses who just eat this crap up like oral sex. If a teen’s suicide can generate scandal and sensationalist trash, and they can make money off of it, then it’ll churn that crap out as news.
I encourage all readers to spread the word: We must not allow the rest of the Internet, and net freedom as a whole, to suffer because of a suicide.