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The Internet, a Bastion of Free Speech? You Sure?

02/25/2011

Those who combat corporate and governmental abuses against net neutrality are fighting to defend the Internet as a paragon of free expression. But is the Internet really a paragon of free expression?

Take Facebook. If someone posts on your wall or comments on your status expressing a view that doesn’t match yours, you can delete it! Facebook helps you censor and silence the people in your life.

Take this blog, Batshite. You should know that anytime someone comments for the first time, it must first be approved by me before becoming visible to others. In addition, if a repeat commenter shows signs of growing disagreeable, I can add them to the moderation queue so that their words always stay hidden until I release them. Before I do, I can edit them to say whatever I like. For all you know, thousands–even millions–of dissenting voices may already have been silenced on this, my blog! My empire! A ha. A ha ha. MUAHAHAHAHAHA!

Take any comment section or discussion forum on the web. There is always a moderator or administrator (often several) who has complete control over whether and what you contribute.

It’s like we all have our own little digital fiefdoms over which we exercise utter dominion. Everyone gets a dictatorship–benevolent or no–and dissenters are always at risk of being deleted.

True: due to the Streisand effect censored materials often get way more attention than they would have otherwise.

Also true: people who delete comments by those who merely disagree with them are kind of dicks, and unlikely to garner many comments in the first place.

Still. It is a point, and I have made it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. The GeWf permalink
    02/27/2011 6:18 PM

    The fact remains that you need us and therefore cannot risk driving us away with undue censorship.

    so NYA NYA N’ NYA NYA!!! ; p

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