To begin with, freedom of expression is a fundamental human right.
In France, it’s been centuries since the establishment of freedom of expression: on the day of the declaration of Human and Citizen’s Rights in 1789. In the USA, Freedom of expression is guaranteed by the First Amendment of US constitution.
In the 21st century, technological progress has allowed us to discover social networks. "A great and beautiful thing for humanity " everybody said. But nowadays , its use is controversial, here’s the question : is it restraining or promoting freedom of expression ?
First and foremost, using social networks is one of the best way to create links between people around the world. Indeed, social networks are borderless, people from China can easily get in touch with someone in America or Africa, or even lost in the middle of Pacific Ocean. Moreover, it is instantaneous, it allows you to see foreign and distant posts seconds after its publication. It means no more Post office, no more queueing up, no more waiting times, it’s amazing isn’t it ?
Furthermore, social networks also allow people to say or think what they want and to publish it on private or public feeds. I think that all those reasons are making the use of social networks an efficient way to promote freedom of expression.
Nevertheless I said earlier that by using social networks, anybody could publicly express his opinion. It doesn’t mean any harm but there’s an issue : ANYBODY could dot it ! There are unfortunately ill-intentioned people in this world. The fact that social networks are internationally available for billions of people is therefore allowing those malicious netizens to carry damage to others. Those behaviors lead to "cyberbullying" among the youngest, especially during teenage years. Indeed, according to Peggy (Peggy Sastre is a French science journalist, essayist, translator, blogger and Doctor of Science Philosophy), After decades of steady decline, suicides and depressive symptoms among youth aged 13 to 18 have been on the rise in the United States since 2010.(Le Figaro. slate.fr)" "This trend is all the more worrying among adolescent girls." It doesn’t mean that they’re the only ones affected, there are others undesirable consequences. Consider for instance, the Black Lives Matter movement and all these demonstrations. The social networks was actually creating some tension between people, evolving the violence and the hatred on both sides.
Finally, the emergence of "fake news" also causes troubles. In fact, there is so much information that it’s becoming truly complicated to see the difference between what is "real" or "fake". As stated by an Odoxa Dentsu-Consulting survey, 30% of French people admit they already have relayed "fake news". As for those who mainly get informed via social networks, 45% have done so.
It remains relevant to report that the GAFAM (Google Apple Facebook Amazon Microsoft) are trying to protect their users establishing privacy policies and judicial proceedings. However , it’s very hard to spot the "vilains" among all of them.
To conclude, social networks could be hopeful and really useful for freedom of expression, it depends, however, on who uses it and how.
Sources : Le Figaro, slate.fr, The Times, Wikipedia.