Cyprus Mail has an interesting article on the rising role and side effects of citizen journalism.
Throughout the social media – from Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube – photos and film are posted every minute that breach codes of conduct, laws of copyright, personal privacy and government laws. From pornography to celebrity parties, from inside Guatanemo Bay to soldiers on the frontline telling it how it really is: images are escaping censorship and regulation.
I think that censorship is not an option anymore, at least in global scope. Cameras are everywhere – cheap semi-professional equipment, camcorders, webcams built-in into every notebook, mobile phones, etc. Also, free or cheap Internet access is pretty much everywhere. And on top of that, technology got really simple – one doesn’t need a Computer Science degree and years of experience to capture a video, upload it to a social network and share it with the rest of the world.
And when the censorship option is gone, the only reasonable option that I can think of is education. If governments, companies, parents, societies, etc. will start educating people, focusing on the “good” instead of “bad”, if appreciating conducts, laws, and ethics will be encouraged, then we’ll see more of the “better” content. Of course, nothing will prevent us from a few “bad apples”, but once the appropriate values will be set, a lot of people will follow.
In some sense, this issue is similar to tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption. While there are certain legal issues – licensing, age limits, advertising, driving, etc – the major control over population’s behavior in regards to tobacco and alcohol is, IMHO, done via education. It is when you show people over and over again what are consequences of tobacco smoking and alcohol abuse, when you educate them on the side effects, and so on and so forth, that’s when they start thinking and reacting in the way that you would want them to think and react.
Of course, legal consequences can be implemented to some degree. For example, for showing the moment of death and such. But those would be very difficult to enforce, due to the global nature of the Internet, digital media, and such.