For as much of the hate toward politicians we spew across social networks here in America (and Canada), the opinions we can express without worrying about legal consequences is a luxury in comparison to some of the limitations in other countries around the world.
Take Vietnam, for instance. Their government passed a law this week that says if a citizen were to use social media to criticize the politicians, they could be fined 100 million dong—which amounts to about $4,740. That's a crazy amount of money for almost anyone here in America, but even more so in Vietnam, where the average monthly salary comes out to about $185. The country has already imprisoned many bloggers who took to the Internet to voice frustrations with Vietnam's communist regime. Recently, a Facebook user in the country who used social media to raise awareness about his brother who was jailed for criticizing the government, was accused of the same crime and sentenced to house arrest for 15 months. The Vietnamese government has taken measures to censor the traffic of news on social media as well by passing a law signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung that prohibits people from sharing articles on social networks or blogs. Instead, the government declares that social media should only be used to "provide and exchange personal information."
Reporters Without Borders, a group that champions Internet freedom, called Vietnam "an enemy of the Internet." The next time you catch someone bashing Obama or another elected official—hopefully with a criticism that's rational—remember that that digital freedom is something not everyone can enjoy.