Unit 6 Journal Assignment – Free Speech and Censorship on Social Media
CIS340: Computer Ethics
Overview: Throughout the term, you will keep a journal that you will add to every other week by reflecting on questions or scenarios that pertain to that week’s topic(s). Although not required, to ensure comprehension of each week’s material, you should first review the self-assessment questions in the textbook at the end of the assigned chapter(s). These questions relate to the journal topic and can help you formulate your thoughts and writing. This week, you will compose a journal entry reflecting on your experiences and how it has influenced your thinking on the following questions/scenarios: Discuss the proliferation of social media and the positive and negative effects it has had on free speech and the ability to both express and monitor ideas. Specifically: Social Media companies such as Twitter and Facebook have been in the news and before Congress recently, indicating how influential they have become in our public discourse and our ability to express and spread ideas. Recent decisions to ban users, including former President Trump, and to block or add disclaimers to certain stories, have raised questions about social media’s power and influence. This has led to questions regarding the applicability of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), how to address misinformation, and the potential risks, consequences, and ethics of stifling certain speech. Answer the following questions as you develop your thoughts and compose a journal entry on the topic:
• How has social media changed the way we interact, express ideas, and engage in debate?
• Recall in your readings this week that Section 230 of the CDA protects social media companies from legal liability that might result from what others say on their platforms. Noting that, what responsibility do tech companies have to encourage the free flow of ideas versus monitoring speech and taking steps to discourage harassment, violence, and other forms of potentially harmful speech?
• As private companies, Twitter, Facebook, and others are not bound by the U.S. Constitution, so their decisions to monitor and censor speech may be legal, but are they ethical? Should companies be required to honor constitutional rights?
• What are your thoughts on what some people refer to as “cancel culture” (i.e., individual and coordinated efforts to encourage boycotts, call for people to be fired from jobs, have students expelled from college, etc.) simply for expressing an unpopular opinion?
• Your journal is an informal self-reflection and does not require sources or APA formatting.
• There are no specific length/words requirements. Simply provide your thoughts. However, each of the elements described in the assignment should be covered.
• You will be graded on the depth of your critical thinking and the strength of your writing.
• The optional self-assessment questions for your review can be found at the end of Chapters 5 and 9 in the textbook.
Review the grading criteria below before and after you write your journal entry.
Evaluation Rubric for Weekly Journal Assignment
Criteria Exemplary Proficient Needs Improvement
24-25 points 20-23 points 16-19 points 0-15 points Content
Reflection Reflection demonstrates a high degree of critical thinking in applying, analyzing, and evaluating key course concepts. Insightful and relevant connections made through explanations and examples.
Reflection demonstrates some degree of critical thinking in applying, analyzing, and/or evaluating key course concepts. Connections made through explanations, and/or examples.
Reflection demonstrates limited critical thinking in applying, analyzing, and/or evaluating key course concepts. Minimal connections made through explanations and/or examples.
Reflection lacks critical thinking. Superficial connections are made with key course concepts.
14-15 points 11-13 points 8-10 points 0-7 points
Conveys strong evidence of self- reflection on own work with a personal response to the questions posed and demonstrates empathy for other points of view.
Conveys some evidence of self- reflection on own work with a personal response to the questions posed and recognizes other viewpoints.
Conveys limited evidence of self- reflection on own work to the questions posed and limited understanding of other viewpoints
Conveys inadequate evidence of self- reflection on own work and no analysis of other viewpoints.
9-10 points 7-8 points 5-6 points 0-4 points
Well written and clearly organized, characterized by elements of a strong writing style and basically free from grammatical, usage, and spelling errors.
Above average writing style and logically organized using standard English with minor grammatical, usage, and spelling errors.
Average writing style that is sometimes unclear and/or with some grammatical, usage, and spelling errors that detract from the content.
Poor writing style lacking in standard English, clarity, language used, and/or frequent grammatical, usage, and spelling errors that greatly detract from the content.