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The Internet Is Making You Less Free (areomagazine.com)
56 points by iamnothere 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments



Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Unfortunately we have become less vigilant while the tools available to suppress our collective liberty have become vastly more powerful.


Eternal vigilance is possible for the unemployed and childless, unfortunately for me I have 15 hours a day devoted to decreased vigilance and the 8 hours devoted to sleeping.


Perhaps you should have considered not having a child if you can’t give them a free life. Not everyone has to have a child; Everyone has to guard the liberty.


Hindsight is 20/20, foresight is murky at best.


Perhaps I agree with this statement, because every day we all spend a lot of time on social networks or various Internet services or even online games like https://casinority.com/au/ or others. I'm going to experiment, if I can stop using the smartphone and the iPad for one month. I really hope that I can do it.


The article seems to focus heavily on China and Russia, which makes for kind of an odd notion of exactly who the "you" is in the title. Most of their readership is not in those two countries. (It also seems to have an extremely America-centric view of the state of the Internet in those two countries, which does not strike me as especially well informed. Its view of China's "social credit" system reflects Fox News version of it and has little to do with reality.)

The main argument it makes that actually affects its readers is that the social media giants are cracking down on what they consider antisocial behavior. It doesn't seem possible to me to make you "less free" by banning you from doing something that was impossible before the Internet. Alex Jones may not be able to post to YouTube any more, but he's no less free than he was in 2005.

It's vacuously true that Facebook and YouTube are less "free" than they were before they began the crackdown; it needs no article to tell you that. But the Internet is still "free": Jones is welcome to support his own infrastructure.

As far as I can tell, this is little more than yet another person demanding access to other people's resources. Which strikes me as inconsistent with its obvious conservative, libertarian leanings.


The China part of the argument has more merit as they have been exporting the infrastructure supporting their "social credit" system to other nations since the Beijing Olympics in 2008

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/24/technology/ecuador-survei...


> The main argument it makes that actually affects its readers is that the social media giants are cracking down on what they consider antisocial behavior. It doesn't seem possible to me to make you "less free" by banning you from doing something that was impossible before the Internet. Alex Jones may not be able to post to YouTube any more, but he's no less free than he was in 2005.

Leaving aside how I feel about this, I just want to thank you for this, to me, new idea.


To quibble with the headline: not so I'd notice, and I think I know my own situation better than some random writer on the Internet.

Appealing to people's self-interest doesn't seem like a great argument. How about talking about how it hurts other people that we want to support?


There is no shortage of examples of how powerful platforms and governments are using this technology in a way that reduces personal freedom. Surveillance is the name of the game in our current era of internet business models. Are you suggesting that this isn't the case?


Even if the overall trend is to reduce many human freedoms in the aggregate, there are always individual humans who are outliers and can use technologies and policies in ways other than as “designed” — and I’m sure this forum has many of these individuals as members.

In the specific case of the Internet, the broad and rapid access to raw information can be very powerful if you are able to suitably filter, sort, and use that information to increase the freedoms that are meaningful to you.

(And, of course, the term “freedom” is extremely overloaded today — it may help to be very clear and precise about one’s usage.)


To put it another way, it's odd that the "you" in the headline promises to talk about the average reader's situation but then they talk about what's happening in China.


China and Russia are given as worst case examples. Halfway through the article: "Observed in isolation, the authoritarian measures taken in China and Russia don’t immediately indicate an existential risk to freedom elsewhere." The author gradually redirects their attention to Western nations.


> Appealing to people's self-interest doesn't seem like a great argument.

I think it depends on the person, and how they themselves have been affected. Likely the author is trying to reach people who have personally felt the downsides of global interconnectedness.

I thought this was an interesting take, because by most metrics the Internet is unquestionably a success. Goods are cheaper, information is more widely available, long-distance communication is easier and can be more secure, commerce is easier, and so on. But ever since the mid-2000s I've begun to feel the tightening of the noose in terms of freedom. I used to think it was a brief phenomenon, pushback from a stodgy establishment that didn't understand the future. I'm beginning to think that it may be a feature of the technology, especially with the continued centralization of the Internet.




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