The Power Of Intermediaries To Silence Speech Online

from the forget-big-brother,-look-out-for-the-corporations dept

While plenty of people worry about the possibility of government censorship online, some are noticing that the real issue isn't with government censorship but the fact that various intermediaries, in the form of service and application providers have the power to make content disappear online -- and they are often being pressured to do so, even if it's perfectly legal. This means that various hosting companies or other services, such as MySpace and Facebook often have tremendous power to hide content that it dislikes (or that someone else convinces them they should take down).

While the really egregious examples of taking down content are often brought to light by people complaining, it is a reminder that you might not really control all the content you think you control. This can be true even if you think you "control" your own domain. If the content is hosted by a service provider, often it can be convinced to pull down your content. While this should lead to more companies who promise not to get involved, there really are only a few who promote themselves that way (and it often gets even more difficult with laws that require "notice and takedown" such as the DMCA in the US). While this might not be a huge problem for most people, it is worth remembering how much power these various intermediaries may have over what you consider to be "your" content.

Filed Under: free speech, intermediaries


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  1. identicon
    The Esoteric Tiger, 15 Jul 2008 @ 3:37pm

    They all do it and it all has to do with the bucks involved...

    And I'm not talking the type looking for a doe either to run through a meadow either. ;)

    With affiliate programs such as Google AdSense or even a "smaller" program driving the vision of creating a direct a stream of income available to all willing participants, pages generated by algorithms, spreadsheets or whatever else people use to divert pay-per-click traffic their way do not have a place on the Internet...

    except to serve up a whole slew of clutter designed to divert portions of pennies, nickles, dimes or whatever in such a flat manner that anyone wanting to enforce the policies involved with maintaining a fair Pay Per Click Profit Program...

    IF these affiliate programs truly want to keep intact their credibility with the advertisers in the first place...

    And IF these various search engines want end-users to keep turning to their portals to perform searches...

    They are obligated by their own desire to raise their corporate value to keep their servers "clean."

    And whether or not there are algorithms grading political dissention via recording systems even TechDirt employs to ensure its not being used to abuse the masses, there are too many people jacking the stakes up higher and higher with the stuff that has nothing to do with political tension.

    There are so many intermediaries because everyone wants to catch a penny or two being thrown into this particular fountain of funds while doing the least amount of work to maintain the flow of such a stream.

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