Personalized Censorship

By Mark Nuyens
5 min. read📢 Social Media

Discussing the government's role in online censorship can often lead to heated debates, with some arguing that it is necessary for protecting users and others fearing the loss of freedom of speech. As social platforms struggle to balance government instructions and user protection, the conversation can quickly devolve into unbalanced, hateful or cynical opinions. However, it is crucial that we have a say in what should and shouldn't be controlled online. Initiatives like BlueSky and federated social networks aim to address this issue by increasing user control instead of imposing more restrictions that might not improve the overall experience.

Personally I believe a potential solution to the online censorship dilemma, or at the very least part of it, is to give users personal control over the content they would like to see. This means that each individual can decide what is appropriate for them, and what is not. Social networks could implement a simple form, asking users to what degree they want the platform to shield them from potentially harmful content, and possibly what they consider to be harmful content in the first place. Alongside this, platforms should inform users that they cannot accurately check all content and that some responsibility falls on the user.

To further enhance user control and individual integrity, social networks could verify accounts using phone numbers or other reliable means for authentication, similar to what Elon Musk has done recently through the use of payments. This could help prevent malicious users from accessing the platform in the first place and permanently ban users who participate in any illegal activities. In fact, when it comes to banning users, perhaps the community should have a say as well. A democratized system that reflects collective values can be a powerful tool to ensure that users contribute positively to the network.

By providing users with more control over the content they consume, both users and platforms can better understand each other while also allowing users to learn about the process of content moderation and its challenges. What's most important is not to treat users as children by limiting, censoring, or blocking content based on unverified claims of danger or unethicality, without them knowing. While social networks should not be responsible for checking every post, they should provide tools that allow users to protect themselves when necessary.

In conclusion, while there may not be an ideal solution to the challenges of online censorship, we should not underestimate the power of community-driven approaches and collective efforts to improve our digital world. Higher authorities may act as a last resort, but it should not impede our ability to address online content issues ourselves. We should acknowledge our role in shaping the content and politics of our digital lives, striving for a more open and collaborative environment where users can decide what's appropriate for them.

Thank you for reading!