This week the tech world has been a buzz about the EU’s hate speech code being agreed on by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Microsoft.
The short summery is that if “something” is determined to be hate speech, these companies have agreed to take it down. Whatever that “something” is is a bit vague.
This is an interesting crossroads of opinion for me. The first place this takes me is that this equates to censorship. Despite me disagreeing with the sort of opinions and sentiments that these policies are aimed at silencing, it’s still censorship and censorship is bad in all forms. This is the only place in my beliefs that I will allow the slippery slope argument to sway me.
However, the First Amendment (yes, I know this code of contact is from the EU, not bound by any American laws) doesn’t extend to forums of speech provided by corporations. If Twitter wants to ban any Tweet that contains the word “paper”, what would stop them? Any of these companies can choose to conduct their business however they want. And the users of Facebook are not citizens protected by some Facebook Bill of Rights.
This is also a wonderful place to understand that there are forums online that are controlled by no one. The (hopefully not defunct) Aether project is a great example of distributed (no one owns it) social network that no government or corporation is able to moderate or control.
The anarchism of the Internet is a fundamental tenant of it’s design. It should be protected.