We love our text messaging.
As the technology has evolved, we not only exchange frivolous banter with our friends, but we also get news updates, weather forecasts and movie showtimes from the beaming screen of our thin, mobile beauties.
If that information were to be censored, students would come out sharpening their RAZRs.
Last week, Verizon Wireless declined a proposal from Naral Pro-Choice America, a group in support of abortion rights, that would make Verizon’s cellular waves a carrier for customer-requested pro-choice text messages. Verizon said in a statement it does not accept programs from groups that “seek to promote an agenda or distribute content that, in its discretion, may be seen as controversial or unsavory.”
“At [their] discretion” is Verizon’s admittance to censorship. It is not Verizon’s place to censor the information
that people receive via their cell phones, especially if they request it.
Last Thursday, the same day the New York Times published an article on the subject, Verizon reversed their decision and announced it would allow Naral to send text messages over its system.
The Verizon-Naral issue highlights the fine lines of who holds the right to act as a gatekeeper in our multimedia world.
Last October, The Temple News ran a paid advertisement with pro-life subject matter from the Human Life Alliance group. Some readers were offended by the insert and vocalized their disappointment to us. In our Oct. 17 issue, we ran a staff editorial, “Advertising Freedom,” explaining our editorial detachment from advertisements. We also maintained the stance that even though the ad from Human Life Alliance did not reflect our views, we had no right to censor their message, as long as they paid for their ad’s placement within our pages.
Verizon probably realized this later, after announcing their poorlyreceived decision on Naral. Naral’s agenda should in no way be confused with the political stances of Verizon.
They are simply using Verizon’s waves as a carrier for their own business. But at the same time, Verizon has no right to block Naral’s message, especially if customers are requesting it.
The way technology has developed, we receive information and it’s delivered right to our hands. It’s a frightening thought to imagine this technology turning into a vehicle for only what corporate America wants us to see. The purpose of new media, like blogging and other avenues of easy publishing, now available through cell
phones, is for people to share ideas with one another without exclusive equipment.
This is a massive step toward global communication – a trait that we know breeds peace, education and understanding.
It would be a mistake to cut the wires at this point.