Another strong article in the current edition of The Spectator, and I’m not halfway through it yet. An extract:
Facebook’s bans are political. In September last year Angela Merkel was overheard asking Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, what he planned to do about offensive posts about the refugee crisis. ‘We need to do some work,’ he said. And he did. In February he said that in Germany, ‘with the migrant crisis here and all the sensitivity around that’, his service would clamp down on xenophobic posts.
Twitter, too, polices its users’ chat. It once described itself as ‘the free-speech wing of the free-speech party’; now it has its own Trust and Safety Council, stuffed with NGO people and feminists [my emphasis] who aim to make it more ‘pleasant’. This isn’t about banning morons who make death threats; it’s about morally managing the conversation. In the words of Twitter’s British head of policy, Nick Pickles, the web has helped to make ‘challenging, even upsetting viewpoints… more visible’ in a way that is ‘not always comfortable’. So Twitter must think up ways of ‘drowning out’ uncomfortable viewpoints.
We’re witnessing a massive shift in the whole idea of the internet; from an open platform for the discussion of ideas to something that must be moderated and editorialised…