Freedom of Expression vs. Ethics
A debate that generally arises when ethics and codes of ethics are discussed is: To what extent are we restricting freedom of expression? What is the limit of freedom of expression? Personally, I think that in order to exercise the right to freedom of expression it is necessary to think about the repercussion of our act, to what extent it can harm another person.
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Every day we can perceive the media as the main referents of our civilization and its role in our daily life is difficult to ignore. In the rest of the world, the media enjoys great freedom to defend ideologies, merchandise and everything that responds to their interests. This is a valid and highly relevant achievement, after years of struggle to make this one of the fundamental requirements for the exercise of democracy.
If we look at it from another point of view, the fact that the media has the capacity to highly influence our lives has its negative nuances (like everything else). The media have enormous power and great freedom, even, at times, the absence of controls and regulations is alarming. This quality of influence, sometimes deliberate, makes them highly powerful, since many are part of large organizations with their own political and economic interests, which often do not respond to the needs and interests of minorities and sometimes even of majorities. This characteristic is in itself a risk to which attention must be paid.
Today we live in a civilization with a high convergence of technologies, in the technological village that was announced a decade ago after the emergence of the Internet. Increasing amounts of information are available to a growing number of people thanks to the support and work of the media. This wide space of media activity, which is not legally regulated, is generally exploited as a gap to exploit all its possibilities, sometimes bypassing regulatory norms, which were not yet in place at the time of the emergence of certain technical advances. The concurrence of information from different places gives rise to misrepresentation and disinformation. Since it is necessary to realize the extent to which our society is changing, the most responsible thing to do is to regulate ourselves by means of an ethics of communication that indicates moral criteria and ideals, as well as self-regulation mechanisms that contribute to its effectiveness.
Digital and media literacy are effective strategies to combat misinformation and disinformation. These tactics focus on learning and sharing skills to identify, verify and counter fake news while also safeguarding freedom of expression. #VefiryKE pic.twitter.com/cDZbiMnYAr
— ELF-Africa (@elfafrica1)
August 25, 2023
The normative limitations of the law are not only due to the liberal nature of our societies, but also to the fact that they are highly innovative and technologized societies, which have made permanent change their very constituent core. The constant introduction of novelties, and moreover at great speed, tends to produce not only normative gaps but also ignorance and uncertainty among citizens about the uses and effects of these novelties. The media are no exception.
The absence of norms or social preparation that can accompany innovations is sometimes used for quick profit, without regard for the consequences. The ethical alternative, on the contrary, demands its timely complementation through responsibility, critical reflection and the care and development of one’s own activity, without allowing oneself to be dragged along by the temptation of quick profit.
Given that the media are one of the social activities most affected by this permanent imperative of novelty, they must carry out an exercise of ethical self-control in order to respond appropriately to the challenge posed by innovations and their effects.