I read most of the articles that come through Boing Boing and have for years. They have a liberal voice and on occasion that I get eye roll-y.
They also have a technological schizophrenia.
Last month, Cory Doctorow has a piece, How to Break Open the Web: a report on the first Decentralized Web Summit, about protecting the anarchistic nature of the Internet, which I completely agree with.
Then this past week, Mark Frauenfelder writes, “A honeypot for assholes”: Inside Twitter’s 10-year failure to stop harassment, which is about harassment on Twitter.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too, Internet & Boing Boing.
First of all, the title of Frauenfelder’s article uses the word “failed” presuming that Twitter had been working to curb harassment. As a long time Twitter user, I don’t think that the company has done a single thing to that end without being pressured by it’s user base. A failing can’t happen without effort.
Secondly, no social media platform, Twitter or otherwise, has any legal, moral, or ethical obligation to protect their users from other users. No obligation at all. They’re not a government body responsible to tax payers, they’re not managers of employees, they’re not the parent of bickering kids. They are a company who monetizes their users through privacy invasive techniques and advertisement revenue. The only obligation they have is to make money for their shareholders.
Finally, if a social media company were to adopt an ideology of what was acceptable to post and what is not (beyond the limits already imposed by law), they’d then be faced with the criticisms of censorship.
Look, I get it, it sucks when harassment happens online, but when you give everyone a mouth and the ability to do whatever they want with it, you’re going to get hateful people. It’s the cost of doing business.
When Facebook tried to implement a real name only policy, which gives accountability to the people that use that social media site, BoingBoing was one of the first sites to decry it. Anonymity emboldens the coward. You can’t have it both ways.
As someone who intentionally picked a blogging system that didn’t have comments built into it, I was intrigued when Frauenfelder brought Civil Comments to my attention. In a nutshell, they bring the self-policing of reddit to every site’s comments section. The Civil Comments people’s first video claimed that “comments are broken”. And that’s not true at all. They do exactly what they’re supposed to do, give everyone a voice.
My point to all of this is that either everyone can say everything or everyone must check their freedom of speech at the door, and believing that a social media company has any obligation to protect freedom of speech is incorrect.