The Internet has made it easier for people to enjoy their freedom of speech. No question about that. Thanks to the Internet, we now have more people enjoying their freedom of speech than was the case in the pre-Internet era. Here, it is important to pause and appreciate the nature of the freedom of speech. The freedom of speech is not just about being able to open your mouth and emit words. The freedom of speech is more about being able to address an audience, and being able to impart ideas to such an audience without fear. It is really all about trying to influence an audience. If you are just speaking to yourself, you can’t be said to be really enjoying your freedom of speech.
The specific ways in which the internet has made it easier for people to enjoy their freedom of speech include:
- By availing audiences: The internet has made it possible for people to connect to audiences that they wouldn’t have been able to connect with before. Today, with just a Twitter account, it is possible to have thousands of ‘followers’ in all the six continents, without really having to do much.
- By cutting costs: The Internet has made it possible for people to enjoy their freedom of speech without having to spend too much money. Today, you don’t have to organize a political rally (or some other sort of rally), to get an audience you can address. Things were different in the pre-internet era. For instance, in the pre-Internet era, the only way to connect with an audience remotely would have been by phone (say, by setting up a conference call). But the logistics of doing so were nightmarish, as were the costs. If you were to set up a conference call (and you were, say, a Metro PCS phone customer) you’d have to be ready to part with a tidy sum of money at the metro pay bill page. And then, even after having incurred the huge expense in the form of the metro pcs payment, you’d have ensure that all participants in the call were all available, besides their phones, at the point when you’d be making the conference call. Some would say that that is too much work and expense.
- By introducing anonymity: The internet has made it possible for people to enjoy their freedom of speech without fear. This has meant that people are able to say things that they wouldn’t have dared to say, in the pre-internet era.