How do we draw the line between an end product and infrastructure? How should infrastructure regulate usage on its platform (if at all)? I’ve been thinking about AWS’s decision to remove Parler recently and whether it was warranted for AWS to do so. At what level of infrastructure should something become a ’public good’? As more and more of our digital infrastructure is built out under private companies, does it change how we govern content on top of it?
The benefit of retroactive correction in some instances—imagine fixing a typographical error in the proportions of a recipe, or blocking out someone’s phone number shared for the purposes of harassment—should be contextualized against the prospect of systemic, chronic demands for revisions by aggrieved people or companies single-mindedly demanding changes that serve to eat away at the public record.
Is there a difference between censorship at the broadcast level and receiving level? People should choose what they want to see but have no overarching rules over what is ‘illegal’ content to create/broadcast. States can still mandate for example, required filters for receiving content.
3 Types of censorship
- Government monopolization (e.g. former Soviet union owned all the media outlets)
- Prepublication Review (e.g. government prevents information from being revealed, like nuclear weapons program details)
- Licensing and registration (e.g. media with limited bandwidth like radio means a centralized authority divides up the space)
Self-censorship of press
Publishers know that if they offend the government, their reporters may not be given access to as much information as reporters for rival publications, putting them at a competitive disadvantage. This knowledge can lead a “free” press to censor itself.
John Stuart Mill’s argument for free speech and that censorship should never be justified (arguing for liberalism)
- All of us are capable of error. If we prevent someone from voicing their opinion, we may actually be silencing the voice of truth.
- Erroneous opinions may contain kernels of truth. We ought to let all opinions be voiced so that all parts of the truth are heard
- The whole truth left untested is simply a prejudice.
- An opinion that has been tested in the fire of a free and open discourse is more likely to have a “vital effect on the character and conduct”
When should intervention happen? Mill’s Principle of Harm states that the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.
Librex and the free exchange of ideas on college campuses
People go to colleges not to just read textbooks but to talk to professors who’ve studied it deeply and get their opinions on it.
But what happens when those professors feel like their can’t express their opinions? What happens when a student is offended by that opinion and the professor is at risk of losing their job?
“61% of students on Ivy League campuses are afraid to speak their minds because of campus culture”
It is much more emotional labour to separate the public and private selves; one needs to remember what parts of yourself to portray to what people