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2d69 – Trust and safety policies are fig leaves for censorship!

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Can you really cope with that stuff?

About 9 years ago, a facilitator of a training class was sharing the following story, as a way to illustrate the value in always hearing out the other side’s arguments – instead of not having any information at all. Arafat and Netanyahu are meeting face to face and one of them says to the other: “You hate me. I hate you. We need to talk”.

I don’t know if the story is true but it would be incredible if we lived in a world in which opposing sides would respectfully debate and perhaps still disagree, and even still hate the other side’s guts – a little bit like between Dirk and me :).

Alas we don’t live in that world. Fake news abound (although we had debated previously on whether filter bubbles are something new or not), online bullies (also known as “trolls”) harass people of all genders and backgrounds. Worse, some think it’s easy to hide behind the supposed anonymity of the Internet to upload and share horrible stuff (we’re talking about imagery of child abuse for instance).

So what do we do? In particular, what can – or should – social media websites do when faced with those terrible images and videos, but also what’s the red line when it comes to so-called “hate” speech? If they ban everything, are we slowly creeping towards an overly-censored Internet or are we protecting society? And if you think that increased censorship is a bad thing, that’s maybe because you’re “too old”: younger generations are significantly more comfortable with it when it comes to protecting minorities from offensive statements.

This is not an easy problem, a problem further complicated with a constantly evolving landscape, for instance when pedophiles lurk in the comments section of YouTube or when social media websites adopt different terms of service. In fact, if you pay close attention, not a single day passes when even mainstream media publish an article on that topic of trust and safety on the Internet.

To have a 12-minute summary on the topic in the form of an intense debate, listen to our arguments in our latest episode.

What do you think? Were you convinced by either of our arguments in favour or against the motion? Feel free to vote directly on the website and leave comments as irreverent as you please. Simply be aware that if you cross the of-course-obvious red line, I will unleash Dirk.

Respectfully yours (so we say),

Sebastian & Dirk

Picture: CC0, Pixabay

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