Using the example of harmful speech online, this essay argues that duties to others—a core component of our humanness—require us to consider the impact our speech has on those who hear it. The widening availability of tools for sharing information and the rise of social media have opened up new avenues for individuals to communicate without the need for journalistic intermediaries. While this presents considerable opportunities for expression, it also means that there are fewer filters in place to manage the harmful effects of speech. Moreover, the structure of online spaces and the uneven legal frameworks that regulate them have exacerbated the effects of harmful speech, allowing mob behavior, harassment, and virtual violence, particularly against minority populations and other vulnerable groups.
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