I’ve been writing quite a bit recently about social media and how it affects our daily lives. It is, as I wrote recently, an addiction that we cannot seem to be able to control, if we even want to control it. It’s not just Twitter or Facebook either. It’s all forms of social media. I know people that brag about not watching television very often, if at all; These same people, however will spend as many as four hours daily, watching Youtube videos. Seriously, what’s the difference? Now it seems that the bar is being lowered, at least at YouTube for now, maybe. some of the others soon, as to what content is permissible on their platform.
I read this article, describing how YouTube is starting to flag content as problematic, or as described by the CEO of Google, borderline. Here’s the interesting part of the article:
Pichai then offered a definition of what he means by “borderline content.” “Content which doesn’t exactly violate policies, which need to be removed, but which can still cause harm,” he said, in language echoing YouTube’s statement to Crowder days later.
The bolding is mine. So now, it appears, YouTube will make arbitrary decisions, not based on any specific policies , about which content will be allowed on their platform or not, which, as I said, significantly lowers the bar for all creators. Yes, of course conservatives are making noise about this change, but I don’t think that YouTube can legally target just one group that it may have ideological differences with but that this will affect all content. This will end up, over time, becoming the end of YouTube. Where one goes, the rest will soon follow in one way or another and what they all will have accomplished is to drive users off their platforms.
There have been calls for federal regulation of Big Tech, and I have in the past been against that idea, but in recent months, I’ve warmed to the idea that these companies, like any other, need to be responsible to their customers. I’m loathe to see the federal government be involved though simply because all they will do is create a bureaucracy that will actually do nothing in the long run. Instead, I like the idea, that’s been circulating online for a while now, that individual states pass laws, protecting their citizens, against abuse. Think about it. Fifty states implementing fifty laws that these platforms will have to abide by or else. The else being that there’s heavy fines imposed, or worst case, they’re banned from the state.
I like the idea of this being at the state level because I believe individual states have a better record, overall, of enforcement than the federal government. Big Tech fears any interference but will especially become apoplectic when states begin passing laws to protect the consumers. Don’t expect this to happen overnight, but there’s already a few states considering laws now. In the meantime, either we’ll all put up with the ignominy or we’ll leave whatever platform it is where our content will be under ultra-scrutiny. The choice, through all of our complaints, has always been ours and maybe, if we, the user base, had taken a more steadfast stance in the last few years.
Personally, I would rather see the Giants come back to their senses than have any laws, at any level implemented, because there’s always going to be some blowback and of course instead of solving a problem, may in fact, do the opposite. If and when states begin to pass laws, they need to be conscious of that fact and make sure that if there is any, the blowback would be minimal.
We live online now. Not all of us, but a vast number do, and we need to be aware of not only how we interact with others, but those providing the venue also need to be cautious how they police their platforms.