The Church encourages freedom of expression on social media, while advocating safeguards that help steer culture in the right direction.
The concept of freedom of expression on social media has been a hot topic in recent years, with many Catholics advocating strongly for it and for various limitations.
The Catholic Church has written about freedom of speech in various documents, highlighting its benefits and challenges.
Right to express public opinion
Gaudium and spes explains that “the present heightened sense of human dignity has given rise, in many parts of the world, to attempts to establish a politico-legal order that better protects human rights in public life. These include the right to freely assemble and form associations, the right to express one’s own opinion and to profess his religion in public and in private.
The Church recognizes that everyone should have the opportunity to express their opinion. It is good and commendable, but at the same time must be within the limits of the truth.
All of this assumes that, within the limits of morality and common utility, man can freely seek the truth, express his opinion and publish it; that he can practice any art he chooses; that finally, he can avail himself of truthful information concerning events of public order.
As for the public authority… Everything must be done to to prevent culture from being diverted from its own end and made to serve as an instrument of political or economic power.
Gaudium et spes, 59.
Everyone should be able to express their public opinion, but this must be done within the framework of moral truth.
The main problem with this guideline is that many of those in power are not trained in Christian truth and will inevitably let their own beliefs influence their decisions.
Protection of society against misuse of the media
Moreover, the Church has always encouraged the use of the media, but not when he begins to degrade society.
The document, Intermirificaexplains this dynamic of freedom.
Finally, the same public authority, which legitimately concerns itself with the health of citizens, is required, through the promulgation and rigorous application of laws, to exercise proper and careful supervision lest serious harm be done to public morals and the welfare of society by the use of such media. Such vigilance in no way restricts the freedom of individuals or groups, particularly in the absence of adequate precautions on the part of those who engage professionally in the use of these media.
Particular care must be taken to protect young people from printed material and shows which may be harmful at their age.
When a media platform begins to harm society, the Church recommends that it be regulated and closely monitored. This has become more difficult to accomplish in recent years with the internet and the global reach of social media. Personal responsibility becomes even more important in these circumstances.
While the Church gives us solid guidelines, there is no clear vision on how to implement them in a fallen world, and we need to be aware of the many ways social media can cause harm, especially to young people.