Censorship Algorithms

What censorship algorithms are is very self-explanatory. They’re algorithms, or formulas, to determine what or what not to censor on the internet. They decide what can and cannot be shown on the internet, and what information sees the light of day. For the past 2 decades, Google has been censoring content individual governments want off the internet.

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Although most of this content was harmful, illegal, or deemed inappropriate by the government, there has always been a moral choice of whether to censor it or not. To many, this censorship feels and IS the manipulation of what we see, hear, and know about. In many cases, people have begun to feel like their rights have been violated in a way, given the manner in which these censorships have been brought about. In the recent years, most notably back in May and June of 2017, there has been much debate on the topic of censorship algorithms. At this time, famed news outlet The New York Times had begun promoting the idea of censoring what was deemed fake news, citing a viral news story that had since been traced back to a number in delaware. Only a month later, in June of 2017, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Google could remove search results worldwide. This occurred despite arguments and counterpoints brought up by many civil liberty groups about this setting a precedent for internet censorship and controlling of news.

This prompted a slew of new suspicion around mainstream media. Along with civil rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, many independant and smaller news organizations have joined the fight internet censorship. The internet, and by extent the world, runs off a flow of free information. Anyone has access to anything at anytime they may need. But this can have consequences. While being able to find real and accurate news that hasn’t been manipulated or twisted in anyway is a plus, having all the fake stories would make it very difficult to know what to believe. This is as opposed to having censorship be put in place, limiting the number of fake sites but also giving way for the media to control the internet.

As one of many large news corporations part of the First Draft Coalition, a motion intended to educate about and prevent fake news from spreading, The New York times would have the power to shut down businesses and news outlets that opposed their views, as well as disrupt the sharing of any criticism against them. This is very hazardous to the flow of information, as it leads to the interruption of news, and the corruption of opinions both on and off the web. This may also lead to some feeling their rights of freedom and individuality have been violated, given the apparent manipulation of the info that reaches our screens.

Unfortunately, the debate surrounding this will be played out for years. I cannot see a world in the future where we, the people, do not fight for the independence of information and against corporations trying to prevent certain opinions from surfacing. This said, I also cannot envision a world where businesses, organizations, and corporations such as The New York Times do not wish to repeal any information against them and rid themselves of critics and haters. Therefore, like many other issues in our country today, this debate has no clear victor.

07 September 2020

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