Online abuse is cowardly and sinister as one is hiding behind a screen.
Male, 38 UK
There is a unique harm that comes from being hurt by someone that is faceless and nameless. The psychological terror of the unknown is worse because it feels more hopeless and impossible to stop it. I do think people believe that freedom of speech gives them the right to say whatever they want without consequences. The real meaning of freedom of speech is that you will not be prosecuted for your opinions, such as when speaking out about your government. It is not a free pass to be rude or abusive.
Female, 33 USA
Freedom of Speech should be applied to freedom of expressing opinions, not attacking others.
Male, 34 USA
Freedom of speech gives freedom to express an opinion, not to do so in a manner that is intentionally hurtful, derogatory, abusive etc.
Female, 34 , UK
Freedom of speech should only be exercised when not causing harm or inciting the desire to harm another person, emotionally or otherwise. It is not recognised sufficiently for the average person. If someone in the limelight (such as a star or politician) is abused the police take an interest but this is not the case if an average user on the street is targeted.
Male, 38 UK
Freedom of speech doesn't equal freedom to defame, which is
harmful, so why should it equal freedom to abuse, which is also harmful?
Female, 31 USA
Shouldn't be allowed to abuse someone. It's not right to physically abuse so why verbally?A lot of people are abused over the net. Some people think that nothing happens when they've reported abuse. Gossip/rumours/taunts are seen by everybody.
Female, 37 UK
Because you are defenseless, and the implications can be viral Speech is power. Must be exercised with responsibility.
Male, 37 India
There is a responsibility that comes with freedom of speech - abuse is never to be tolerated or allowed under any guise. It is all too prevalent and easily ignored when not personal. Something needs to be done about it as the harm is becoming all too evident!
Female, 32 Australia
I don't think the person has to be physically in front of you in order to be abusive, words alone (on screen) has the same impact. Just a matter of people twisting the meaning of freedom, same as no such thing as freedom to be violence, pure idiotic. The government and social media sites are not doing enough to protect the innocent, there should be tighten law about this and effective education in school to make young people aware of the damage and lives lost caused by cyber abuse.
Female, 32 UK
Abuse online is worse than offline because neither type is acceptable but online is a faceless crime. You should never write or say anything you wouldn't to that persons face. The abuse people give online are not opinions they are mindless. Being opinionated by freedom of speech is different to abusing. People allow too much of themselves to be online through many different social platforms. It's scary what people will easily give others access to.
Male, 31 UK
Both online and offline abuse are harmful physically and mentally.
Female, 33 China
Abuse online is worse because you not necessarily know the person and idiots feel like they are protected doing it online. Cyber abusers should be traced down by the IP address and shamed in public, same as internet scammers also given sentences lets say a few months or public work of 200 hours per abuse.
Male, 33 UK
I think with online abuse it is very easy to forget the human element of the person you are abusing. This has made bullying online more direct and vicious. There has to be a line when the human cost is examined. Often abusers will gather and self propel regardless of your interaction - it easily bleeds into every day through depression or even through trolls contacting your real life support. This is not freedom of speech. Ending cyber abuse is not as simple as turning off a computer.
Female, 35 USA
Face to face can be more shocking but online people are anonymous so take it further. It is harder to defend yourself/others online. It is disappointing so many people view their freedom of speech as a right to abuse. People don't believe that cyber abuse IS abuse. They think that because the Internet it isn't tangible, their words/threats/abuse aren't real.
Female, 34 UK
Free speech is not freedom from criticism or freedom to abuse. When cyber abused I felt so helpless and depressed that there was nothing I could do. If justice could have been served, maybe I'd feel more at ease. Instead I'm left with PTSD and a deep distrust of people.
Female, 31 Australia
Freedom of speech is the right to stand up for yourself. It is not a free pass to be a troll. There needs to be greater penalties for cyber trolls and the Internet providers need to be more accountable for the way the services they provide are being used by trolls. Redhat, for example, have received two complaints from my family and I and we have informed them that the police in Australia are involved and they still aren't taking it seriously. There needs to be serious consequences for both the perpetrators of abuse and those Internet companies like Redhat who allow it to continue.
Female 35, UK