Thursday, June 1, 2017

Curing the Internet. Will the Patient Survive?



There is no denying it, the internet has a hate problem. Call it an infection, a virus, a cancer or whatever. Our first reaction is to demand its cure, its removal. As much and as fast as possible. Give no quarter. Does that actually accomplish what we need? No. It removes an influence, a contributor, yes. Unfortunately those posts are only outward indicators of a larger problem which never went away in the first place. Despite tolerance, affirmative action and positive speech, hates proponents have kept it alive just below the surface.

The survival of hate has been going on for decades. Frustration and anger by users, law enforcement and communities is understandable, maybe even mandatory.  Extreme concern is certainty justified.

European governments,  emboldened by earlier success legislating content off Yahoo, Amazon, eBay and others, have taken a similar shoot-the-messenger approach to creating new legislation. The problem is Facebook, Twitter and other socialized media is not the same as the other companies they have legislated previously,  and even the internet is not the same as when they had previously enacted laws.

Various governments have steadfastly refused to acknowledge that what they're doing may not be effective at best, and may actually damage the usefulness of the internet,  at worst.

The companies are not without fault or responsibility here. They are like teenagers who spent too much time in the sun without sunblock and have now developed a melanoma on their arm which they have ignored a little too long.  The EU, rather than accepting the consultation of knowledgeable doctors, have opted directly for punitive amputation and is now openly suspicious of anyone with arms.

Make no mistake, liberty and personal cultural sovereignty are on the line. Choking free expression "for the public good" by controlling the transmission medium has little to do with the public good and everything to do with avoiding the problem. Avoiding the reality of hate by silencing the symptom and manifestations.

We are faced with the internationalization of local European internet laws. As well meaning as it may be, it translates to  internet content everywhere reflecting the most restrictive laws and attitudes in the world. How boring would the internet get. How useless would it become when religions, politics or new ideas deemed offensive in one country had to be removed everywhere on the internet or the platform where they appeared would suffer being fined into submission.

Would we still get innovative, daring start-up companies. Would there be creativity? Would users still be drawn to it? Would the internet survive?  Maybe, but maybe history has some clues how much could be lost.

Google "Hays Commission," come back afterwards and we'll talk.









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