Monday, July 27, 2015

Aging is Inevitable, Maturing is Optional.

Mid July 2015  - Twitter and Reddit separately  announced major changes which signal an almost unavoidable maturing. It happens to all of us. We get a job, get a car, get an apartment, get a houseplant, get a goldfish, get a dog/cat and figure we can handle a house and a family. Each step in that process comes with additional burdens. Turns out the Internet industry is not so different. Marketing gurus will tell you it is all product cycle related, but anyone who has been in the online business long enough will tell you it is more than that.

Historically, platforms start with a product idealistic, free-speech, community-will-self-regulate and morality-will-win-out approach.  In time community, legal, moral or stockholder forces become significant and Internet companies discover the need to take a direct role in the safety of their users and the nature of the online environment they create.

This cycle has been repeated by every successful Internet platform. It is not a conspiracy. It is an example what truly happens at the intersection of the First Amendment, democracy, free enterprise and technology.  Common sense and good judgement does prevail.

In 2008, I sat in a room at Stanford University Law’s Center for Internet and Society with most of the significant companies of the day. Stanford, aided by Chris Wolf and other interested influencers helped the ADL convene a meeting to discuss hate on the Internet with an assembled industry group, not individual companies – a first-of-its-kind and somewhat prickly gathering.  

All the companies present that day have worked to oppose hate online.  While many young companies are starting out with informed and innovative anti-hate solutions, some older companies steadfastly refuse to acknowledge any responsibility for what transpires on their services. 

Responsibility is an indicator of maturity.  


Maturity is not always a function of age.

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