The internet has made people more open, independent and empowered to shape their communities.

It’s a good thing, too, for the public.

But when the internet’s power is used to bully and silence dissent, it can be damaging.

The stakes are high when public discourse is suppressed and silenced.

There is little doubt that online threats and intimidation can have a chilling effect on free speech, and a lack of confidence in the internet can be a risk factor for online bullying and hate speech.

But online bullying can also be a boon for those with power, or at least a powerful influence on the way the public sees the world.

In a country with a powerful media and a well-developed online reputation, we should all be alarmed that a few bad apples can shape public opinion to the detriment of everyone else.

As our public discourse evolves and evolves, it will be up to us as citizens to take the lead in defending freedom of expression and critical thinking online.

The internet is a powerful tool, and if we let it be abused, it could have a devastating impact on the democratic process.

The web has made us more open and independent, but it also made us less free.

We have to work harder to make sure it remains free and open.

This article was originally published by The Conversation.

Read the original article.