Events that occur in our society help to shape public sentiment that could eventually lead to the creation of a bill; thus, law makers debating if it should become a law. 

While the debate between privacy versus security has been going on for some time, certain incidents have brought this back into the spotlight.  The San Bernardino terrorist attack in 2015 brought out the question of whether an individual’s privacy should be violated for the sake of security; this is still going on with Apple standing firm on the side of privacy. 

Now, another incident has recently occurred that brings up the issue of privacy versus security but in a different forum. The terror attack in California focused on whether users’ privacy on Apple cell phones should be violated when it comes to people’s security/safety.

This time, Apple products are not the forum being questioned but it is Facebook that is front and center with many wondering if their users’ privacy should be violated if it will help to enforce security/safety of others?

The baseball field attack on House Majority Whip Scalise

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The date is Wednesday, June 14th, 2017 and Republicans are getting ready to practice for tomorrow’s baseball annual- charity game against the Democrats.  Suddenly, a man asks which team is practicing and when he is told it was the Republicans who were practicing, he proceeded to walk on the field, took out a military-style rifle and opened fire to kill everyone there. 

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot once and is in critical condition, several other were injured and the assailant, James T. Hodgkinson, was shot and died from his wounds. 

While I could continue discussing this tragic event in more detail, investigators have so far discovered that James belonged to a group that dismissed Republicans and his Facebook page was filled with harsh and threatening comments toward President Trump, the Republican party, Hilary Clinton and was a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign; Sanders has publicly denounced the shooter’s actions and said violence is never the solution. 

Being how threateningly-outspoken Hodgkinson had been, should Facebook have alerted the police about him to protect those whose lives he was threatening?

Should Facebook step up?

Anyone who follows the news, even if it is every other day, has heard that when an individual who goes out to attempt killing individual(s), nine out of ten times it is reported that the assailant’s Facebook page contained many red flags that one could predict would result in an act of violence. 

While many favor their privacy when using Facebook, how many more deaths must occur before people demand some sort of policing to help avoid what happened to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and the others who were injured?  

Keep in mind that if Scalise had not shown up with his security detail, he would have been safe but the shooting would have turned into a massacre.

How far should we go?

I consider myself an American and I value my privacy as well as my right to freedom of expression.  Yet, I try to look at both sides of an issue and seeing over and over these shootings where if some sort of policing was done by Facebook, the nation would not be mourning so many deaths that seem so senseless; especially when they could be avoided? 

Can there be a happy medium between the two where Facebook can respect their user’s privacy but if the tone is filled with sentiments of harming others, can’t the authorities be notified to see if the person has had an issue with law officers? 

Investigators have so far uncovered incidents James has had where law officers were notified.  This was an individual who should not have been allowed to have any fire arms.  Naturally, part of the investigation is to see if the weapons were obtained legally or not.  The issue regarding gun control is a conversation to have at another occasion.

Presently, privacy versus security is a conversation that will continue to be discussed but the forums are constantly changing.  Two years ago, the terrorist shooting in San Bernardino brought up privacy versus security but the forum was with Apple and their cell phone products. 

Today, the subject is the same but now the forum has moved to Facebook and social media. Unfortunately, the direction that our society is moving in seems to possibly have people to say enough is enough and finally yield to giving up part of their privacy for people and their children to have security that will keep them safe.  Then, the new question will become is America still a Democracy when sacrificing some privacy for better security?  What do you think?

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