There are all kinds of ugly ideas on the internet. Should we banish them to silence, or is there a better option?
There are few ‘hot topics’ more central to political life right now than what’s happening in the digital public square.
Big Tech companies are increasingly the gatekeepers of which ideas are (and are not) acceptable. Internet mobs will employ Alinsky’s tactics to single out individual voices for destruction.
“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.“ Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. — Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
Alex Jones was but one prominent example among many.
Not only are the Tech companies being leveraged for ‘deplatforming’ but we see it with income streams, too. Patreon has kicked people off their platform for holding unpopular views. And right now, employees of CNN (the supposed defenders of free speech) are actively lobbying Youtube and others to kill the channel of a major Conservative voice (Steven Crowder).
Oh… I see how this works, ‘freedom for me but not for thee’. That’s a great racket you guys have going there in the Media(D).
Even ClashDaily has felt the blunt end of the poolcue of this censorship, which is why we have cut all ties with Herr Zuckerberg’s Facistbook project, and have moved to MeWe.
Speaking of which:
First, they came for the OTHER conservative sites…
WATCH: Doug Giles Talks About Conservative Sites Getting NUKED By Facebook
And then they came for us…
Facebook BANS Doug Giles And ClashDaily.com – Here’s Doug’s Response
Bill Ottman, the co-creator of a different alternative to FB wrote an interesting Quilette piece about extremists and censorship. The piece is well worth reading in full, but here are a few key takeaways relevant to today’s topic.
The article’s title, How Radical Transparency Cures Web Censorship and Surveillance makes the key point. The content inside is mostly making the case for why that is true.
Some activists claim that hateful rhetoric is so disruptive—and even inherently violent—that state intervention is required. But I am more persuaded by the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, whose concurrence in the landmark case of Whitney v. California, 1927 warned that “if there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” Brandeis’ view was vindicated in the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, 1969 which stipulated that the state should step in to silence hate speech only when the speech is of such a character as to have the intended and likely effect of sparking real and imminent violence.
Hate groups do exist, and it is only natural that outraged observers would look to the government or corporations to shut them down. But empirical evidence proves that achieving social peace is easier when you allow the free exchange of ideas. Embracing people with whom you disagree can even be personally transformative, as modeled by the outreach efforts of legendary blues musician Daryl Davis.
Davis has an odd-seeming hobby of befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan, as he described in this interview. According to Davis, “Once the friendship blossoms, the klansmen realize that their hate may be misguided.” Simply by meeting with Klansmen, David reportedly has inspired over 200 members to give up their robes.
And here come the studies:
Banning sadistic trolls in mainstream fora serves to push them into desolate corners where their impulses will fester and intensify. The authors of a 2017 UNESCO study say that banning trolls is like playing “whack-a-mole”: They will just pop up somewhere else. A Brookings study similarly concluded that removing the accounts of trolls typically “increase[s] the speed and intensity of radicalization for those who do manage to enter the network.”
…One of the most persuasive justifications for online moderation is that it helps protect children. But a study in the Journal of Pediatrics shows that at least one in six kids have had a negative online experience—notwithstanding the heavy moderation that already takes place on most popular online fora. According to the study author, Andrew K. Przybylski of the Oxford Internet Institute, “It’s kind of crazy that so much time and effort and money is spent to protect kids in this way when we don’t know if it’s effective at all.”
Another study, this one conducted by the American Library Association, shows that controlling access to online content could harm the educational process, because the filters that are placed on school networks can prevent students from creating and sharing content: “Schools that over-filter restrict students from learning key digital readiness skills that are vital for the rest of their lives. Over-blocking in schools hampers students from developing their online presence and fully understanding the extent and permanence of their digital footprint.”
Essentially, the same kind of people that used to warn about home-schooled children being too ‘sheltered’ and ‘lacking socialization skills’ are now creating the very problem they warned about with their kneejerk digital censorship.
He’s calling for a coordinated cultural shift toward freer speech, including in those ‘safe spaces’ like universities that have been trending in the other direction:
What is the path forward? My social network, Minds, will be part of the solution, I hope. But one network can’t do the job alone. What will be needed in coming years is a broad alliance of other networks, thought leaders, scientists, NGOs, universities, tech and finance corporations and governments to commit to a global online standard centered on free speech and open-source technology.
The obvious precedent for this is the creation of the internet itself in the 20th century. And there is no reason why that same model could not be applied to the social media overlay that now sits on top of the bare-metal digital communications protocols first established in the middle decades of the Cold War. At the same time, users should be empowered with the controls and filtering tools they need to self-curate.
We like how this guy thinks.
More freedom, not less, is the way forward.
Come to think of it, that’s one of the things we like so much about our President, too.