Defending Facebook?

By | March 16, 2019

Wow, I never thought I’d find myself in the position of defending Facebook and the tech platforms, but here we go.

Since the mosque shootings in New Zealand I’ve seen increasing calls for real-time monitoring of videos posted on the internet, approval-only posting, and similar calls for censorship. Since that is impossible (algorithmically or with human staff), what this really means is the de facto banning of what made the internet worth using in the first place: the ability of the average person to subvert the gatekeepers and publish whatever they wanted to publish.

Even with the challenges (and ignoring that Facebook itself is a walled garden), I don’t think we should give more control to people like Zuckerberg or return it to the traditional media. You think that was a better world? It wasn’t, though most of the people calling for this nearly-Stalinistic level of censorship are too young to remember it (and that we still had mass shootings).

One of the reasons for this is that the left is broadly concerned with what words you use, signaling how “woke” you are with the correct slogans and shibboleths, and not that much concerned (or even against) positive actions in the real workaday world. To the left, the words are where the real pernicious harm is done and the actions of a shooter or a government are just symptoms of the noxiousness of that earlier speech.

I don’t know what the solution is, though I have some ideas. But pervasive censorship and returning to the old world of inescapable gatekeepers doesn’t seem like a very good or well-considered solution to me.

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