Free speech on the internet worsened world divide, says Google exec

    Photo by Katrina Ginete/THE FLAME

THE INTERNET has worsened the social divide because of its lax regulation of free expression that has given people their version of the printing press, a Google executive said.

Speaking during the 2023 Manila Social Good Summit, Google global vice president for news Richard Gingras said the internet has altered individuals’ perception of free speech by favoring only that information that supports their beliefs.

“The internet made an entire world of information with access to a device but the internet also put a printing press in everyone’s hands,” Gingras said on Saturday, Sept. 16 at the Samsung Hall of the SM Aura Premier in Taguig City.

“Our open societies [and] our democracies will be destroyed by the freedom we enable…We live in a divided world…and yes, it’s been exacerbated by the frictionless means of expression enabled by the internet,” he added.

According to Gingras, people are “tribal beings” who are more driven by emotions than reason due to the presence of a social construct.

“This challenges our core understanding of free expression, that supporting free expression means accepting the existence of expression we find uncomfortable is not famous,” he added.

Instead of filtering out information that counter their opinions, Gingras urged people to reflect on their inclination to have their biases confirmed.

“Can we take care not to demonize those we disagree with? Fear of the other…is at the core of our crisis of divisiveness,” he added.

Organized by Rappler, this year’s Social Good Summit carried the theme, “#TurningTechForGood: From problem to solution” and tackled solution-focused conversations on society and technology. F — Shayne Lee Macaraeg

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