Down With Content Moderation!

by | Nov 15, 2022

Down With Content Moderation!

by | Nov 15, 2022

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Back when I was involved with Parler, I wrote an article about FaceBook and it’s then-newly anointed Oversight Board. A more apt name might have been Tourqemada, condemning people to a digital inquisition.

Free speech frauds did not condemn the concept of this board, empowered with the privileges of condemning people to a digital death penalty. Instead they argued about the composition of the board, and who would sit on it. They intuitively accepted the legitimacy of the Oversight Board itself, and made the dispute about power instead of principle.

When Parler started to grow, the founder asked me if I had suggestions regarding who could lead driving policy at Parler. I suggested someone who was subsequently hired. They were a self-avowed Never-Trumper, a self-avowed Objectivist, and a supporter of free speech and privacy. They believed viewpoint diversity was a necessity, and that viewpoint discrimination must not be tolerated. Some others at Parler actually objected to this hiring decision, forgetting the mission of their company was to promote free speech, free expression, open debate, civil discourse, and civil dialogue.

I see the same debate repeating itself. Elon Musk, following his purchase of Twitter, has announced that he’ll be appointing his own “content moderation council.” And I see the same pathetic people begging, pleading, and warning about how he’ll compose the Twitter council. Again, no objections offered to content moderation. No objections offered to frequent banning. No objections to the continued digital inquisition. What these people really want, in my opinion, is just a guarantee that they themselves, their fans, and their allies won’t be banned for their content.

They clearly have no problem with Elon Musk, Apple, Google, or any other Big Tech overlord being the final arbiter as long as they get access to an audience.

The couragous position, the one that requires difficulty, is advocacy against all content moderation. When Parler was deplatformed in January 2021, I predicted that it would be the last social media platform that would explicitly opposed content moderation and respect the privacy of its users and not subject them to surveillance. Now, if you read the terms of service to any or all of today’s so-called social media, you will see I have been proven correct.

The choice for future developers and innovators is simple. Choose free speech, data sovereignty, and reject surveillance. Or choose to build an app and subordinate your creation (and yourself) to Apple and Google.

Obviously the path of least resistance is to acquiesce to the censorship requirements of Apple and Google and receive access to their devices in their respective app stores (your thirty pieces of silver, cash on the barrel). Or there’s the path of principle.

I am a free speech absolutist. I am an anarcho-capitalist. I defend the right to encrypt. I believe that surveillance should only exist under the conditions defined by the Fourth Amendment. I believe your data is your property.

I do not deny the right of any privately owned business to determine the rules upon which access is granted. But I am sad that it’s much easier for people to defend content moderation than to defend freedom of expression. I am sad that the hardest speech to defend, that wich offends, is now deemed a threat to our government when in fact our Constitution was designed with free speech in mind to preserve and keep the republic.

In my opinion, I am defending what should be the most defensible point of view. There are others who are risking our constitutional republic by subverting the features and attributes we inherited. They are changing our system without our consent. They are turning it into a system where there are no inalienable rights but privileges dispensed by those in power in the most authoritarian manner.

That is what should be indefensible.

To the extent that my perspective, the one that loves free speech and hates surveillance of words, is currently considered indefensible, then I am proud to defend the undefendable.

About Jeffrey Wernick

Jeffrey Wernick is a private investor and early advocate and acquirer of bitcoin. He frequently lectures at his alma mater, the University of Chicago.

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