Puritanism, moralize, censorship and other social network burdens

Let’s talk about censorship in social networks, not censorship from governments or other power bodies, but the censorship imposed by the networks themselves through their terms of use, or better I must say, through the interpretation of those terms, because actually they are often so vague and general that leave in the hands of each company the chance to ‘play’ with its true meaning.

Conditions that work as a must contract so that the user can access the platform, and which can be subject of blocking or removal if broken. Conditions, moreover, that not infrequently come into conflict with local laws or fundamental rights guaranteed in each country constitutions, causing an obvious malfunction.

We are facing another of the big challenges in the new models of network communication: they need a global presence for success and, therefore, the adaptation of their practices to the legal principles and civil rights of each country. Challenge that cause them headaches at two levels: solve the demands of governments, on the one hand, and meet the diverse sensibilities and rights of its users, on the other. About the first thing we have written several times. Today we focus on the second point.

Recently the decision of Twitter to block Politwoops‘ accounts, dedicated to ‘rescue’ those tweets deleted by politicians. And it is precisely in the field of politics, sex, copyright, privacy or free speech where major collisions occur.

Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… Practically there is no platform free of complaints for breaching fundamental rights or excess of zeal in implementing moral standards already overcomed or unacceptable in a certain country .

The uniformity sought by companies installed in the network is simply impossible not only because humans are diverse, but because as mentioned in the aforementioned post about Twitter, terms of use are not above the law, above the laws of each country where social networks operate. Any agreement, whether public or private, must respect the law and, of course, the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the respective constitutions, many of inalienable nature.

An uniformity based in essence in the legal system and moral tradition of US –cot of much of the companies of the sector– and, therefore, do not have to answer ‘per se’ to the sensitivities and legal frameworks of the rest of the users elsewhere.

So while for American society, for example, nudity is generally a taboo subject; European mentality is also usually much more open in this sense, especially if it is related to artistic or informative representations. Consequently, banning a breast perhaps may make sense in the US, but in Spain is able to motivate a wave of protests, as in the Nuria Roca vs Instagram case referred in his article, among others.

And no one can say that there is no simple and feasible ways to reach solutions. 500px, without going any further, allowing users to voluntarily apply a filter to avoid seeing naked pictures. But social networks could also provide ‘legal’ or ‘moral’ variables per country to their algorithms. Or leave to the discretion of their responsibles for the business in each region to determine what content should be displayed or not.

Of course, at the other hand, we would also want a worldwide legal framework for social media companies. But yes, it will be very difficult in the short or medium period, almost right-fiction.

Each of those rights and freedoms are the result of centuries of struggles, sacrifices and movements, the desire for progress of humanity. And, of course, can not be the clumsiness or laziness of Web 2.0 business what comes to shoot down it. Just a decade ago we were all convinced that Web 2.0 and social networking came to assist us in the difficult but exciting task of progress, not for the opposite. Although, to be fair, we must admit its relevant role in important movements.

And, okay, yes, also they rectify. But rectifying based on complaints doesn’t make sense, if for each rectification they lose part of their sympathies and potential users. It would be smarter and, as I say, relatively easy to develop the necessary mechanisms to avoid mismatches between uniform terms of use and civil rights. Because otherwise, they run the risk of ending up floundered, and if not for the Justice intervention, it may be because of the users hostility.

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