Social media, blogging and censorship: Where do we draw the line?

censorship

What will be the future of blogging? Image courtesy of NeONBRAND, Unsplash.

I had a very odd experience on Facebook recently.

Every once in a while, I look over what I’ve posted in the past, often reading posts again to see if they still give me the same chuckle. However, one post was missing.

That was odd, because I didn’t remember taking it down. I have a policy of never posting anything that violates the Terms of Use. Most of what I post is about humor, music, art or books; sometimes it’s funny real-life incidents.

What I’m still struggling to understand is why it disappeared. Facebook gave me a list of potential reasons, so I’m of the opinion that it was probably a post referring to a website and then the original website owners deleted it.

It made me wonder: Is the same thing going to come to the blogging world in the future? Will our posts (the non-offensive type, not the ones that are in clear violation of Automattic’s policies) suddenly vanish in the way that my Facebook post did? Let’s hope not.

Because so many people use social media for the wrong reasons, companies such as Facebook and Twitter are having to get tougher on what people say and do on those social media platforms. It would come as no particular surprise to me if Automattic (owner of WordPress) had to do the same thing.

I’ve seen a lot of others’ blog posts during my time as a blogger. Most posts that I’ve read were relatively benign or told a deeply affecting story.

Others expressed views that I found deeply unlikable — I remember seeing one years ago that was definitely sexist by anyone’s standards. What was even more disturbing was that the majority of the commentors agreed with that blogger. I refrained from commenting on that particular blog — no point in getting into an online argument.

As bloggers, we come in various genders, sizes, ages and nationalities. We all have different outlooks. We see the world and the people in it in our own particular way, based on our own life experiences. In many cases, we bloggers self-police ourselves, choosing what to post and what to avoid posting.

It is impossible for one company’s humans to monitor every blog post that goes online. According to a TechJury article, there were approximately 505 million blogs in 2018 and there are 5.8 million blog posts every day. (Mind: blown.)

To a degree, algorithms are choosing what we see on social media. But I’m hoping that we’ll still avoid censorship of benign blog posts. I don’t think I’d want an algorithm choosing what blog posts I can and cannot see.

Readers, any opinions? Let’s start a discussion.

7 Comments

Filed under Social Media

7 responses to “Social media, blogging and censorship: Where do we draw the line?

  1. Servetus

    Tumblr is already doing this — when they instituted a new policy regarding sexual content, they put an algorithm in place that is gradually scouring old posts and it hides the ones it doesn’t approve of. Every single one of mine that’s been marked unacceptable was totally harmless and was reversed on appeal. (Similar thing happened to me on Twitter and I was shadowbanned for a while, except that there’s no appeal process on Twitter.) On tumblr you can appeal it, but it’s also a computer that processes the appeals, so I’m not sure what the point is there. (And Automattic just bought tumblr.)

  2. 🙂 Bloggers have greater freedom to express themselves here on WordPress.

    We would be out of the proverbial red provided that we abided by WordPress’s Terms of Service.

  3. The world has become very different. What is harmless to one may be interpreted (in an odd fashion so often) differently by another. Some how appears that the ones with really ugly intentions are given a pass while a mild mannered author is zapped.
    Algorithms have a narrow view – company frequently have agendas.
    How odd the world has become.

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