Tweet responsibly: Free speech isn’t always free

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Joseph Petro, Photographer

Tweet responsibly: Free speech isn’t always free Wood Word Editorial Board

On April 9, The Wood Word reported on two new Twitter accounts causing a stir on the Marywood campus. “Wood Crushes” allows anyone to anonymously submit the names of people they have a crush on with a message about the person. “Marywood Underground” allowed anyone to anonymously submit “the latest gossip secrets and inside info around campus.” (As of April 21, the “Underground” page was no longer active.) Administrators of the accounts post the messages on behalf of those submitting the comments, allowing the administrators and commenters to remain completely anonymous in the process.Free speech is important for a strong democracy. People must be allowed to speak out and blow the whistle on wrongdoing; anonymity often plays an important role in protecting individuals in such circumstances. But, there are often costs associated with free speech. Sticks and stones may  break bones but words can also be hurtful.

The internet has created a platform where people seem to believe they can say whatever they want without consequence. Often times, people say things that they would not say to one another if face to face.  Many tweets on the “Wood Crushes” page are objectifying and degrading in nature. Many tweets on the “Marywood Underground” page were purely rumor and little attempt is made to verify the information posted in a transparent way.These Twitter accounts go against the university’s core values and mission statement, both which promote ethical behavior and respect for each person. The comments on these pages represent an irresponsible use of the right to free speech.Students submitting tweets should think critically about their messages and the consequences their words may have on others. Students should continue exercising their right to free speech, but do so in a responsible manner.