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Silas House on the The 1996 Law That Ruined the Internet

But the internet is not Facebook or Twitter, and it shouldn’t be. Fifteen years ago, the major social-media platforms barely existed. Was the internet better or worse? The online public square, now dominated by Twitter, was then constituted of independent blogs aggregated by user-curated feeds. Bloggers are publishers, legally responsible for their posts, but the blogosphere was not noted for its blandness. White-hot critique was common, but defamation and abuse were not. — Silas House

I love the web. It is my favourite place to be when it’s functioning well and the people are nice. However, more and more tending to the social media garden is required to make these platforms a nice place to be. I am glad to say I have suffered very little abuse, but not zero, my main issue is the tendency of false and at a time frankly ridiculous information to come up in my feed.

There are numerous users that seem to think the internet gives them the right to publish absolutely anything they like and not ever be held accountable. Platforms have almost zero motivation to clamp down on those harassing and abusing individuals. because it maximises engagement. With even less attention payed to controlling the information placed on them.

I am firmly of the belief that Social Media platforms should be held accountable for the information published to it by their users. With the ability to remove, and punish anybody found to be abusing their ability to post to the web. The right of free speech does not mean every user has the right to an open platform.

There is an ongoing push by a section of the US to remove section 230 that protects internet giants from this. Although this is for completely different reasons, I think that by changing the protection it holds will lead to a much better internet and one that flourishes with independent thought published by individuals. The public square of the internet needs to be decentralised and moved back to a time when everyone had their say but was also accountable for everything they chose to publish.

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