Tuesday, April 28, 2020

"Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal" after Covid settles down; David Rubin's meta-book


The Atlantic has a rather shocking long essay by Jack Goldsmith (Harvard Law School) and Andrew Keane Woods(University of Arizona), “InternetSpeech Will Never Go Back to Normal  In the debate over freedom versus control of the global network, China was largely right and the U.S. was wrong.”

The tone of the article is a bit Marxist, heeding to the discipline of China’s social credit system and saying that tech companies are being nudged by the general climate of social justice (more centered around inequality than anything else) to implement social credit de facto.

The Coronavirus problem creates a real emergency. Tech companies can reasonably fear that well-intentioned videos or blog posts could make social distancing look like a debate, that naïve or illiterate people will be persuaded by a misread of a poster’s intentions, disregard legitimate medical and local government orders to stay home, and more lives will be lost.


But as the article points out there have been tremendous problems of other kinds of harm accumulating, perhaps since about 2014.  Ten years ago, the writers argue, the accumulation of systemic harms (particularly against less literate people) had not really started to accumulate exponentially.  The authors talk about Snowden’s revelations in 2013, and the Russian trolls in 2016 with the election of Trump (not to mention Cambridge Analytica).

I think the inequality makes many users cynical about what they see online, as those who criticize them don’t have skin in the game or have to pay their dues.  That’s the “privilege of being listened to” in my own third DADT book.   

Tucker Carlson, above, mentions this article, and interviews David Rubin on his "Don't Burn This Book" (July 2019, Penguin).  Amazon lists an audio book with a 5+hour listening time.  

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