Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The global gag on free speech is tightening (economist.com)
43 points by Reedx 55 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments



Speaking of censorship, here's a full text of the article so you can actually read it:

http://archive.is/27LV3


I always wonder why discussion about this issue does not state the obvious: the internet is the perfect tool for radicalization, even inadvertantly. This is why authoritarian governments control/limit access to the internet and why free countries see so much violence, conflict, and polarity that ironically appears to be curtailing free speech.

Theres a reason the information revolution is a "revolution". The days of typical mass media are over, and society is going to take a few years or decades to learn how to function smoothly again.


Because this conclusion is not only far from "obvious" it likely is not the case at all. The majority of the US population was internet connected by just after year 2000. 2/3rds by 2005. By comparison crime is at 50 year lows, and contrary to the public narrative the percent of the population that approves of immigration is at its highest levels [1]. We aren't seeing "so much violence", that's just counterfactual.

For the most part, I see allegations of internet radicalization coming from groups like traditional media and TV that have a conflict of interest with online platforms and have a vested interest in portraying them as harmful.

1. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/23/us/immigration-polls-dona...


Mean world syndrome. Its just gotten worse and worse.

Its not like its entirely inaccurate, there are lots of bad things happening. School shootings are terrible, but, nobody seems to mention that while those have increased as time has gone on, you no longer hear about serial killers.


> contrary to the public narrative the percent of the population that approves of immigration is at its highest levels

I'm not sure how that's relevant.

I can agree perhaps it's not as obvious to those who spend less time on the internet or in different circles, but here's some examples I've seen of internet radicalization:

- Person sharing an image on Facebook that states it is your patriotic duty to shoot the Clintons on sight (shared after the Epstein suicide, not in 2016)

- A Facebook group about train memes and urbanism became viral, and now every week there's an anti landlord thread where people repeatedly share images of guillotines and make jokes about how Mao was right to murder landlords

- /r/the_donald is a perfect example. In the early debates before the primary began it was a very lighthearted subreddit mostly making fun of Jeb Bush. By the time Trump won the nomination it became a vile and conspiratorial cesspool.

-subreddits associated with following WikiLeaks and such that essentially became broadcast channels for various conspiracy theories (deep state, Clintons, that sort of thing)

- The top comments on just about any popular politicians Twitter will just be the opposing group accusing the politician of being corrupt, incompetent, etc etc

- open comments sections on news articles. Need I say more?

- Facebook comments sections on news articles shared by mainstream news. Need I say more?

- The YouTube recommended video death spiral. I've seen a relative go from looking up and watching videos of sermons + Bible discussion, to watching and sharing "here's proof the rapture is happening in 2019", to sharing QAnon conspiracies, in a matter of months. It's fucking depressing seeing that happen to somebody you care about.

To me these are all radicalization. They don't all result in Mass violence (maybe none of them do), but it pushes people's opinions very effectively outside of what's mainstream and otherwise "acceptable" in society, hence why I call it radicalization.


And when Bush was president, people were spreading conspiracies that he arranged the 9/11 attacks to start wars in the Middle East. Heck, some of my high school teachers said Bush fraudulently won th 2000 election. Comment sections online have been shitshows since... forever? Similarly, rapture claims have been around since long before the internet even came into existence.

In order to demonstrate that the internet causes radicalization, you actually have to show at least a correlation between internet use and radicalization. And it takes even more to demonstrate a casual relationship. And we don't even have a clear correlation between the internet and "radicalization". In fact, the relationship we do have is an inverse correlation.

> but it pushes people's opinions very effectively outside of what's mainstream and otherwise "acceptable" in society, hence why I call it radicalization.

Has it? What unacceptable opinions have seen an increase? Over the last couple decades, support for immigration has grown. Opposition to gay marriage has waned. These are just a few examples.

I frequently find that those who point to "radicalization" online actually have a much narrower view view of what is socially acceptable than the broader society. Hence, why most of the allegedly "radical" views being spread online are not what the general populace considers radical.


> And when Bush was president, people were spreading conspiracies that he arranged the 9/11 attacks to start wars in the middle East. Comment sections online have been shitshows since... forever?

I'm not sure how this helps your case. 9/11 conspiracies flourished on the internet.

> Similarly, rapture claims have been around since long before the internet even came into existence.

Sure, but the internet enables it to spread to people who weren't previously involved in those communities. Maybe it just becomes more real when you see it happen to someone you care about.

> What unacceptable opinions have seen an increase?

Well, according to the original post, we've seen an increase in support for suppression of objectionable speech ("cancel culture"). We've seen an increase in support for violence against those with differing opinions (antifa, etc), and more to the point the black-and-white labeling of opposition that would lead you to feel a bunch of idiot far-right trolls count as nazis and thus deserve to be punched.

If you don't think the internet aided the rise of these opinions, you probably don't spend much time on lefty internet.

> Hence, why most of the allegedly "radical" views being spread online are pretty mainstream.

Well, perhaps you're right that the word "radical" is wrong. What we're seeing maybe could be described as an expansion of the overton window in all directions, which makes total sense given the nature of the internet vs the nature of mass media.

I mean apparently even being a flat earther is now a viable mainstream opinion


I can't really see what you're trying to convey. Much of your comment is internally contradictory. For example:

> Well, according to the original post, we've seen an increase in support for suppression of objectionable speech ("cancel culture"). We've seen an increase in support for violence against those with differing opinions (antifa, etc), and more to the point the black-and-white labeling of opposition that would lead you to feel a bunch of idiot far-right trolls count as nazis and thus deserve to be punched.

> If you don't think the internet aided the rise of these opinions, you probably don't spend much time on lefty internet.

Here you're saying that the spectrum of allowed views is narrowing, and there are greater objections to otherwise acceptable ideas.

> Well, perhaps you're right that the word "radical" is wrong. What we're seeing maybe could be described as an expansion of the overton window in all directions, which makes total sense given the nature of the internet vs the nature of mass media.

> I mean apparently even being a flat earther is now a viable mainstream opinion

And in the subsequent section here, you're saying that the range of acceptable ideas is actually expanding in all directions. I'm really not sure what it is you're trying to say, since this directly contradicts the previous section.

The point I'm making is that much of the "radical" ideas seen online are not radical at all - or at least aren't new or unprecedented. People are seeing outlandish views on the internet and concluding, "look! The internet is making this movement spread!". In reality people with those views already existed, and there's no evidence to say that the internet increases the prevalence of those views. You have anti-vaxxers today, and back in the 90s you had faith healers and other denial of modern medicine.


"- A Facebook group about train memes and urbanism became viral, and now every week there's an anti landlord thread where people repeatedly share images of guillotines and make jokes about how Mao was right to murder landlords" What does an edgy joke have to do with anything? And this is on the mild side.


Paywall, so I can’t read the full article. But I’m curious if they mention corporations gagging free speech in the digital town squares of Twitter, Facebook, etc. And more broadly with deplatforming running amok.


> corporations gagging free speech in the digital town squares of Twitter

See the other comment for the full text without pay well. They mention a few times how Twitter is a town square where 'mobs' of people denounce individuals for saying the Wrong Thing. Corporations though? Nope.


Largely because the corporations are just following public opinion. The article does cover how more and more people think that content they find offensive should be refused by platforms. Corporations aren't the cause of this loss of ability to speak in my view. It's the shift in public opinion, and corporations respond to shifts in public opinion akin to a sailor responding to changes in the wind.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: