Drawing lines

Last night I read some of the anti-semitism being shared on Twitter. In one tweet the poster asked Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, whether his company was unable to police anti-semitism or just unwilling to. I then thought of Facebook’s decision to delete the iconic image of the child running along a road in Vietnam because it had crossed some line of decency (they later reversed this decision).

Both of these examples reminded me of the early days of the internet when too incautious an exploration of Usenet would invariably expose you to really disturbing images or ideas. We learned to look away, but we also learned what fellow humans are capable of.

It takes a lot of work by dedicated teams to filter extremes of human nature from any of the public facing platforms. Given my view that the greatest opportunity afforded by the internet is that it is a mirror, part of me thinks that this is important work – part of me worries that it is protecting us from ourselves.

Where do we draw our lines? Do we draw our own or do we rely on others to draw them for us? Is it better to be made aware of the darker side of our nature and forced to face up to it – or do we need protected from it?

Maybe there is no easy answer…

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