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Category Archives: Free Speech

Commentary – how do we fix life online without limiting free speech

New Yorker – Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet How do we fix life online without limiting free speech?

“Which Web sites get the most traffic? According to the ranking service Alexa, the top three sites in the United States, as of this writing, are Google, YouTube, and Facebook. (Porn, somewhat hearteningly, doesn’t crack the top ten.) The rankings don’t reflect everything—the dark Web, the nouveau-riche recluses harvesting bitcoin—but, for the most part, people online go where you’d expect them to go. The only truly surprising entry, in fourth place, is Reddit, whose astronomical popularity seems at odds with the fact that many Americans have only vaguely heard of the site and have no real understanding of what it is. A link aggregator? A microblogging platform? A social network? To its devotees, Reddit feels proudly untamed, one of the last Internet giants to resist homogeneity. Most Reddit pages have a throwback aesthetic, with a few crudely designed graphics and a tangle of text: an original post, comments on the post, responses to the comments, responses to the responses. That’s pretty much it. Reddit is made up of more than a million individual communities, or subreddits, some of which have three subscribers, some twenty million. Every subreddit is devoted to a specific kind of content, ranging from vital to trivial: r/News, r/Politics, r/Trees (for marijuana enthusiasts), r/MarijuanaEnthusiasts (for tree enthusiasts), r/MildlyInteresting (“for photos that are, you know, mildly interesting”). Some people end up on Reddit by accident, find it baffling, and never visit again. But people who do use it—redditors, as they’re called—often use it all day long, to the near-exclusion of anything else. “For a while, we called ourselves the front page of the Internet,” Steve Huffman, Reddit’s C.E.O., said recently. “These days, I tend to say that we’re a place for open and honest conversations—‘open and honest’ meaning authentic, meaning messy, meaning the best and worst and realest and weirdest parts of humanity.”…[I limit my time on Reddit to a couple of minutes a day – and FB to maybe once or twice a week – also for a couple of minutes. I must say though, that my experience with Reddit although limited to a very small segment of a few communities, has been enlightening. With the emphasis on limiting my time and scoping my reading carefully. I am not on Instagram, so I find the photos on Reddit remarkable and unique – a few each evening is a great rush of nature after being indoors working for too many daylight hours.]

8 challenges for open government posed by emerging technology

Sunlight Foundation: 8 challenges for open government posed by emerging technology – “As 2018 begins, the big tent of open government holds both promise and peril, as nationalism, populism, low trust in institutions, and voter anger and apathy put years of gains at risk. We continue to see meaningful ways for better laws and policies to enable… Continue Reading

Wired – The Golden Age of Free Speech?

It’s the [Democracy-Poisoning] Golden Age of Free Speech: “..In today’s networked environment, when anyone can broadcast live or post their thoughts to a social network, it would seem that censorship ought to be impossible. This should be the golden age of free speech. And sure, it is a golden age of free speech—if you can… Continue Reading

Americans See More News Bias; Most Can’t Name Neutral Source

Gallup News: “Americans’ perceptions of news media bias have increased significantly over the past generation. Thirty-two percent believe the news media are careful to separate fact from opinion, well below the 58% who held this view in 1984. Meanwhile, 66% currently agree that most news media do not do a good job of letting people… Continue Reading

Freedom in the World 2018 Democracy in Crisis

Freedom House – Freedom in the World 2018, Democracy in Crisis: “Democracy is in retreat globally and, some say, in the United States. Exacerbating the democratic backslide are authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China, which have increased both repression at home and efforts to export instability abroad. On the home front, indifference toward democratic… Continue Reading

LIS News – Ten Stories That Shaped 2017

LIS NEWS – Can you believe it’s almost 2018? That means it’s time to look back at some of the notable library-related stories from the past year. 10. Librarians Fight Fake News The problems with fake news caused many of us to revamp our web evaluation handouts into guides for spotting bogus information sources. 9.… Continue Reading

Crossing the Line: What Counts as Online Harassment?

Americans agree that certain behaviors constitute online harassment, but they are more divided on others – “Pew Research Center surveys have found that online harassment is a common phenomenon in the digital lives of many Americans, and that a majority of Americans feel harassment online is a major problem. Even so, there is considerable debate… Continue Reading

The rise of female whistleblowers

The rise of female whistleblowers. Oxford Bibliographies. Andrea Hickerson. January 1, 2018. [Andrea Hickerson is the Director of the School of Communication and an Associate Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology.] “Until recently, I firmly believed whistleblowers would increasingly turn to secure, anonymizing tools and websites, like WikiLeaks, to share their data rather than take… Continue Reading

Impact of Decision to Roll Back Net Neutrality

On December 14, 2017 the FCC voted to “roll back the 2015 rules that banned internet service providers from prioritizing certain internet traffic over others….[this has ended the] difference between a free and open online experience, and one where corporations dictate what you can see, and how fast you can see it. To understand the… Continue Reading

Video: How the Court System Is Abused to Chill Activist Speech

EFF: “One of the most pernicious forms of censorship in modern America is the abuse of the court system by corporations and wealthy individuals to harass, intimidate, and silence their critics. We use the term “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” more commonly known as a “SLAPP,” to describe this phenomenon. With a SLAPP, a malicious… Continue Reading

Jameel Jaffer: Government Secrecy in the Age of Information Overload

“Jameel Jaffer, Executive Director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and former Deputy Legal Director for the ACLU, delivered the tenth annual Salant Lecture on Freedom of the Press at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on October 17,  2017, entitled “Government Secrecy in the Age of Information Overload.” Following is a… Continue Reading

The State of Free Speech and Tolerance in America

Americans Say Political Correctness Has Silenced Discussions Society Needs to Have; Most Have Views They’re Afraid to Share “Nearly three-fourths (71%) of Americans believe that political correctness has done more to silence important discussions our society needs to have. A little more than a quarter (28%) instead believe that political correctness has done more to… Continue Reading