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What are the boundaries of debate on Twitter and Facebook?

A man charged with criminal harassment over his dealings on Twitter with two Toronto women's rights activists has been found not guilty, but the debate about what is acceptable on social media is sure to continue. What do you believe is acceptable discussion on Twitter and Facebook?

Man charged with criminal harassment over Twitter found not guilty in Toronto case

What should the rules of engagement be on Twitter, Facebook and other social media? (Soeren Stach/AP/Canadian Press)

A man charged with criminal harassment over his dealings on Twitter with two Toronto women's rights activists has been found not guilty, but the debate about what is acceptable on social media is sure to continue.

What do you believe are the boundaries of debate online? Should Twitter and Facebook be a free-for-all? 

Here's a round-up of some of the comments submitted to our latest CBC Forum — a live, hosted discussion where readers can talk about stories of national interest. 

(Note that usernames are not necessarily the commenters' names. Some comments have been edited for length, to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style. Click on the username to read the original comment.)

Many of the submissions said there should be no boundaries at all:

"All we do when we shut people up is drive them underground. There is a whole strata of opinion out there that is hidden. I'd like it all to see the light of day. Yup, even those I consider to be crazy. Besides, I despise censorship. I'm an adult. Give me the truth, I'll decide what I think about it." - Catherine Coffey

​"Our society is far too sensitive in this day and age. A person is no longer allowed to have an opposing view, in the fear they may offend someone." - SleepDeprivedSince1867

​"All views should be given the opportunity to be mocked, ridiculed, disregarded, upheld, praised or accepted after being revealed once. In a country where a diversity of cultures is literally enshrined in laws, a diversity of thought must also be enshrined." - Nepgear

​Most users of the forum who talked about the case directly supported the verdict:

"She made statements. He didn't like them. He disagreed and called her out for it. At no time did he threaten her. At no time did he make sexual comments regarding her." - Northern Buddha

"It would have been a terrible precedent had he been found guilty. The misuse of the court system was far more offensive than anything this guy said." - hitops

At least one reader disagreed with the verdict, however:

"By not standing up against harassment and violence against women, it seems this judge has promoted it. Sorry to hear of women being harassed online in the aftermath of this decision." - tweetybird

​Though it would not have affected Friday's case, several people said discourse would be better online without anonymity:

"Trolls who frequent discussion groups and make outrageous posts are cowards with most of them hiding behind fake Facebook accounts. I think all groups should require that anyone posting identify themselves to the moderators before they are allowed to comment. Logging in with a Facebook account just doesn't cut it." - Old Man

"Comments on social media should, like those in the traditional media, be limited to those willing to sign their names and have their submissions verified as being from them." - saltwater sailor

And this reader lamented how social media "is destroying the art of conversation":

"Individuals feel they somehow have a right to say things on social media that they would never say during a real conversation, with no eye contact or ability to read another person's reaction or to read social cues." - hemlock

You can read the full discussion below:

Can't see the blog? Click here.

With files from The Canadian Press

Comments

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