Ramblings

The Question of Internet Freedoms

I would say this film is required watching for all internet denizens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXr-2hwTk58.

It tells of a person who gave everything for the cause of internet freedom, even their own life.

Somethings have made me question free speech and freedom of information on the internet, for example: what is the difference between free speech and self advertisement? Is there an invisible line that should be drawn even on blog comments (such as this very site) between what is considered free speech and what could be counted as very elaborate spam to promote a certain product invisibly?

I have so far avoided censoring any blog comments on here, even ones that contain links to the commentators site or products within them, mainly because I feel so strongly about freedom in every single way that I feel bad about editing that comment, even if to just remove that link.

In an internet where people say they are for free speech (wordpress.com) but then use the very same motto and morale as Aaron to make free speech work for their own ends it is sometimes hard to decide if Aaron really did make a difference in the long term.

Take, as I mentioned, wordpress.com. They boast free speech as being paramount to everything they believe in, that it is required of every blogger on this site (they even produce transparency reports: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/transparency-report/) and they try their hardest to confront every take down request and stop it. Yet they cannot seem to apply that rule to themselves, in the form of comment moderation on their news blog posts (it is kind of like a wordpress.com newsletter).

I have made many comments on wordpress.com news blog posts over my time here but only one has ever not been censored. I made a comment recently on Rwanda and how evidence shows that it is not only under a increasing, authoritarian, dictatorship (whose leader has been numerously accused by his closest allies of causing the action that resulted in the murder of many hundreds of thousands of people) but that ethnic grievances have never been solved, and how the problems are just laying under the surface for a resurgence of violence.

The comment was in line with the post which talked about using UX design in Rwanda to try and put across and message that massacres are wrong and that they should not be tolerated. I praised the author for his gumption to try and do something but reminded people of the facts that are beginning to once more make themselves aware.

This comment was consequently censored and deleted along with many other less confrontational comments, even ones as simple as “the website you linked has UX problems because…” on a more recent post of what they considered to be good looking websites; ironically they allowed comments through which agreed with their stance.

This explains the problem quite clearly, many people on the internet are using Aaron’s legacy as a means to pass themselves off as pro-freedom, pro-sharing, when in reality they are not. In reality they use and abuse Aaron’s and other legacy to suite their needs, and turn back to the old ways when it no longer suites them.

Freedom is not about it suiting you, it is about you respecting and understanding other peoples wants and needs. When someone comments on your blog post, don’t remove what you don’t like, it is their needs that they feel as though they have to say that. Yes, I understand there are limits, swearing, abusive language, and the rest. However, when someone genuinely makes a worthwhile comment on our site/blog you should try everything in your power to accommodate for their need of freedom, including free speech.

We have created an amazing thing called the internet, people have even died to give us the freedoms we currently enjoy on the internet; you could even count those that died in the World Wars as being part of that, after all is not the internet based upon our own principles of freedom? However, there are those who will use this legacy to their benefit to twist the internet into their own little playground and attempt to tame it. It is bad enough that our internet is run by a bunch of technologically senile people who cannot call us “experts”, let’s not prove that we are no better by resorting to freedom by convince.

Next time someone tries to comment on your blog remember the likes of activists like Aaron who tried to give you the right to make that content in the first place to be commented on.

Try to keep our freedoms.

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