The need for simple, easily understandable rules

Social media moderation should not be nearly as difficult as it is made out to be. There will always be challenges, but it need not be as complex as it is now. More importantly, it should not be difficult for social media users to understand what they are and are not allowed to post on the various platforms.

The New York Times was recently given more than 1400 pages of rules for content on Facebook that are enforced by 15,000 moderators worldwide. Facebook moderators often struggle with what should be allowed to stay and what should be removed, which leads to a lot of mistakes.

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The Outrage Mob and “shame” culture

You really should go read this article on shame culture at First Things. We need to stop feeding the online Outrage Mob, and ruining people’s lives and careers (and sometimes endangering their lives) over things they say online. This has been out of control for a long time, turning private matters into public spectacles and taking sinful things said in public over the top beyond all sense of rational proportionality.

Before I go further, let me say this: Shame in and of itself is not a bad thing. We have come to think of shame as bad, so “(whatever) shaming” is seen as an immoral act. But if you do something shameful, you should be shamed for it. My pastor says that God gives us “pain to protect our bodies and shame to protect our souls.” When properly directed, shame points to our sin and leads us to the cross. Shame over our sin makes us realize how helpless we are before God and how we need the blood of His Son. Shame leads us to restrain our bad impulses and put more of a filter between our brain and our mouth and/or keyboard.

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Debating online vs. debating in person

I recently attended a workshop that was very helpful in how to have a productive in-person conversation between people of differing viewpoints on issues. That that made me think about is how it is often much easier to have a civil face-to-face discussion than a civil online discussion.

This is ground that has been trampled often, so we have all heard it before. Online, you do not get tone of voice, facial expressions, body language and instant feedback that you get when talking in person. Online, it is very easy to take things in a way not intended and then attack based on that mistaken perception. There is also a natural calming factor that happens in real life, where people are less likely to be nasty in person.

Online, all of that changes. If you’re discussing something on Facebook with a family member or a IRL friend, you may want to be more restrained in order to preserve the offline relationship. But when debating a hotly contested issue with strangers, it is much easier to see them as pixels instead of as people. Therefore, it is easier to go on the attack, and there is much less social cost to getting nasty.

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The implications of being a “publisher” or a “platform”

When you want the federal government to “do something,” always assume that proposed action will eventually be used against you. It is terribly naïve to do otherwise. The power you grant the government when controlled by people you like will also be available to the government when it is controlled by people you do not like. That is the primary lesson I wish conservatives would take from designating Twitter and Facebook as “publishers” instead of platforms.

There is a lot of talk on the Right about designating both Facebook and Twitter as “publishers” instead of a “platforms.” This is not totally without merit, especially as both platforms are increasingly using editorial standards for content. Facebook’s algorithm controls what you see in your news feed, and Twitter is moving toward making dissent on transgender ideology unwelcome on the site. A site like the Daily Wire, which screens every post, is liable for content posted there. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, message boards and blog/website comment sections are not. If Facebook and Twitter are going to be implementing editorial standards on user posts, should they be treated as publishers?


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Good riddance to porn on Tumblr

I have had a profile on Tumblr since September of 2012, and have used it almost exclusively to promote my blog. I knew there was some porn on here and I knew it was allowed, but the extent of my use of the platform was pretty much me linking to my blog posts. I had no idea it was as pervasive as it appears to be until the mainstream news media started wailing about the new rule banning porn.

I am a First Amendment absolutist, and I have often attacked the social media establishment for banning opinions they dislike. This includes memes, which are the modern equivalent of political cartoons. So some would expect me to oppose Tumblr’s new ban on porn, right? Well, you don’t know me all that well, then.

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Twitter was wrong to ban Laura Loomer

What far too many conservatives do not understand is that disagreement with certain protest tactics does not mean that you do not support “fighting back.” Disagreement with certain tactics certainly does not mean you are actually on the other side. Movements throughout all of history have had disagreements on tactics. We should not be making enemies of our own side over things like this.

A case in point: Laura Loomer was unjustifiably banned from Twitter a couple weeks ago. Loomer tweeted about radical Islam’s danger to Jews, women and homosexuals. Of course, she is right and her opinion is a relatively mainstream opinion. She was absolutely right to complain about the ban. I have complained about having posts hidden by Facebook, and I have complained about the moderation practices of the local newspaper’s comment section. As customers, we have the right to complain about bad service and the right to argue about matters of public importance.

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