Social networks emerged as an alternative at a time when media freedom is restricted in Azerbaijan and the government's total control over information resources is increasing. Numerous independent and opposing alternative information resources began to partially fill the gap. Although there are a limited number of alternative information resources in society, new possibilities have emerged.

Has it been possible to use the opportunities that arose at the appropriate level? To clarify the answer to this question, let's look at the real situation.

20-25 years ago, the government began to impose extensive restrictive norms on the media. Despite the fact that television and radio, which have a multi-million audience and reach citizens easily and free of charge through analog broadcasting, were completely used as propaganda mouthpieces of the government, the limited freedom of newspapers and magazines continued for some time.

About 10 years ago, the plane of alternative, independent, or oppositional opinion was virtually eliminated. It was in such an environment that Internet communication technology entered a period of rapid development. The government could not implement the policy of completely controlling the information environment due to the widespread use of social networks. On the contrary, the oppositional and independent position gained wider support in this virtual plane.

At the moment, there are thousands of people expressing subjective positions with different opinions in the social network segment. There are also many news broadcasters with poor media literacy and legal knowledge. As the cases of insults, slander, lies, defamation, and humiliation increase in social networks, their character of being an alternative level of opinion and information is gradually changing.

Users who abuse virtual broadcasting opportunities pollute the general moral environment. The ranks of those who join the professional discussion environment are thinned out due to these factors. In addition to ordinary people, hate speech is also widespread in the speeches and statuses of well-known politicians and civil society activists.

Social network users who base their "freedom" of self-expression on hatred and insults against others are severely damaging freedom of expression in the country. Thousands of social network activists are now doing indirectly what the government once did directly in the context of limiting freedom of expression. On the other hand, the authorities that stifle media freedom benefit from the pollution of this virtual environment.

The existence of adequate legal measures for defamation and insult creates one problem, and the lack of it creates another problem. Just as the environment of impunity pollutes the moral environment in social networks, the application of punishments also serves the interests of the government. Unfortunately, society's social-household algorithm develops on insult-praise and applause-curse couples.

The reactions on social networks regarding any household, social, and political issues in society are hard to be seen in real life. On the other hand, people behave much differently in virtual life than in real life. In the virtual plane, people mostly present their dream image.

The boundaries of criticism and insults have been violated in social networks.

What is criticism? Under what circumstances is it accepted? Who and what can we criticize? Is it possible to criticize everyone? Is there anyone other than ourselves who accepts that we have the right to criticize others? What should be the style of criticism?

After receiving positive answers to these questions, criticism will be easily accepted by others. Everyone must define how and what they can criticize so that the other party accepts it. It is pointless to make the criticism that the other party will not benefit from. It will have the opposite effect, it will turn into an argument or a confrontation, and it will be more harmful to us.

Under the name of freedom of criticism, it is not permissible to humiliate, insult, mock, rebuke, slander, or discredit others. Insult and slander are not without reciprocation. Besides creating an adequate right of response, it is also a violation of the law. Everyone should clearly understand what subject they have the right to criticize.

Conventionally, what is the role of "troll service" in social networks?

Most of the propagandist YouTube broadcasts have a "troll service". At the same time, this situation exists on pages with many followers on other social networks. Not only insults but also any criticism and opposing opinions are immediately blocked, and the virtual plane is open only to one-sided positions. Although the influence of the "troll service" on the social and political environment is not decisive, it creates some hesitation. Observations show that a professional "troll service" succeeds in partially changing or stopping natural discussion directions for the sake of private interests.

On the other hand, "troll service" marginalizes what it promotes, puts it in a closed circle, and develops mass psychology around it. Channels that follow mass media ethics and conduct information and impartial analysis cannot completely avoid these effects. There is a deep polarization between power and opposition in social networks, more so than in real life.

The fate of people of independent opinion in social networks is more difficult. As soon as a positive opinion is expressed about the country's opposition on some political issue, we are watching a total attack by an active group on social networks with ready-made theses. When some ideas, analyses, and subjective conclusions are close to the position of the government, a similar move is made by the opposition.

At the same time, such positions can be seen in the approach to regional and international politics. As in football competitions, some countries have active "fan clubs" in Azerbaijan. Any positive or negative opinions about Turkey, Iran, Russia, the United States, and the European Union are immediately "neutralized" with ready-made theses.

Can social networks and virtual broadcasts prepare society for positive changes?

I don't need to remind you that social networks are an effective virtual opportunity to communicate with each other, to get to know each other, to listen, to discuss, as well as to help and organize. At the same time, it can be considered a useful plane for entertainment purposes.

In the virtual plane, there are many individuals and entities with very cunning, prepared, and special missions. Everyone should consider this. Let's not forget that someone discrediting each other by swearing here, knowingly or due to inexperience, alienates society from social and political activity in social networks. A public discourse full of anger and hatred discourages mature and cultured people from open virtual discussions.

Mass trust and support for each other are very important for society to get rid of the legal quagmire. Our solidarity and cultural and constructive behavior for the sake of great socio-political change can be our most effective moral weapon. Not only valuable people but also those whose personalities we do not respect, whose activities we do not like, and whom we consider harmful, should not be insulted with heavy swearing. Insult damages the system of social relations, discredits social values, and leads to mutual hatred, resentment, and mistrust. We all suffer from it.

Any mature person who joins virtual discussions should avoid insults and even rude rhetoric. He/She should put an end to insults in his/her comments, statuses, and speeches. We can bring about positive change toward a better future only through our exemplary approach.

Social networks are an important resource, phenomenon, and opportunity. But we still cannot use this opportunity effectively. There are many possibilities that we missed. We could create multiple alternative information resources, objective analysis, and a level of discussion. Unfortunately, the public target of most broadcasts is still unclear, efficiency is low. Society, which has lost the habit of free-living, is confused in this situation. It hesitates, fears, and panics. It is inappropriate to constantly burden society with negativity and then expect it to support positive ideas.

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