Self-Regulation vs. the Internet

The Internet is a bustling community constantly adding new content with the click of the mouse. The idea of regulation within cyberspace seems almost unreachable and downright impossible. Waldman’s article, Harmful content on the Internet: Self-Regulation is the best way forward, aids my theory that self-regulation is the key to censoring the Internet. By censoring, however, I do not mean having a Big Brother figure monitoring every page accessed by user. My idea of self-regulation and censoring depicts the notion of individuals flagging something as inappropriate or offensive, thereby driving such an article/post/video to the attention of sites hosting user-generated content. Doing such actions will bring forth the consequences to the author of the offensive material. Facebook and Twitter, among other social networking sites, follow this same procedure in weeding out offensive material, like the notoriously controversial Facebook page, Aboriginal Memes, which spawned lots of negative feedback.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/08/09/facebook-removes-racist-aboriginal-memes-page_n_1759891.html

People have argued that pages, like Aboriginal Memes, will only keep spawning unless regulation from some overseer is unleashed onto the Internet. Myspace claims that they monitor the videos, for example, that are published onto their site. It becomes irritable when looking at bigger video hosting sites, like YouTube, however, that have an undeniably growing community that spits out hundreds of videos daily. Monitoring such a site would require many people and lots of patience, as the videos will only keep growing and growing. With sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, I strongly believe that self-regulation would be the obvious answer to people’s complaints. Otherwise, how would the guys in uniform choose to censor? Who would be the priority ones to protect from offensive material? Self-regulation works for all classes, races, and sexualities. youtube_logo

Within the dark alleyways of sites, like YouTube, there are videos that go beyond offensive and reveal themselves to be disturbing to innocent eyes. Videos like rape, pornography, and gang-related displays (among others) have made their way onto YouTube and other websites. A simple Google search could grant one access to a daily dose of violence, if one desired. Many people strive for a monitored, regulated Internet for the sake of the younger generation of children. I would like to counter this argument by stating that parents can download control software to block sites from children. In class, we even discussed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (CIPA)/Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, which blocked certain sites (pornography, violence, language, etc.) within the public school systems of the US.

net_nanny_boxshot

Having the government regulate the Internet to a full extent for users seems unjust, as it tampers with many ethical issues of privacy and freedom of speech, among others. Censoring the Internet will stifle both creative and commercial innovation and make way for product placement and favoritism with providers, in my opinion. Censorship has been witnessed in other forms of media, like newspaper, radio, film, and television. Before they were censored, these mediums were self-regulated. Today, they consist of the same traits that I have specified above. Having a censored and controlled Internet could most surely lead the Internet down a similar path. I can almost guarantee it.

In conclusion, I believe that keeping the Internet self-regulated would be a fantastic road to travel. It keeps creative minds flowing, as it allows users to share music, chat openly on public forums, and watch videos without much censorship or intervention. One has always had the opportunity to intervene when offensive material is posted by flagging as inappropriate. Gang videos, pornography, and other offensive material will be hovering around the Web, but one can always use software to block these sites to protect younger individuals. The Internet is not a utopian society where our troubles from the outside world have been forgotten. Whether government censorship occurs or not, these troubles will still surface online, meaning this hope for a paradise will never be achieved. Just self-regulate!

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This entry was posted in Facebook, MySpace, Social Media, Student Posts, Twitter, YouTube by michaelzisk. Bookmark the permalink.

About michaelzisk

I am a student at the University of North Texas majoring in Radio, Television, & Film with a minor in French. I am a Campus Representative for the Disney College Program at UNT. I have interned with the Walt Disney Company and Creative Minds in Cannes at the Cannes Film Festival. I hope to do something in the editing department of media after graduation in December 2012.

6 thoughts on “Self-Regulation vs. the Internet

  1. I definitely agree that self-regulation is the best way to control the content on the web. While there are many issues and negative characteristics of the internet, I truly think the way it is now is the best way it should be. Out of the major types of media out there certain expectations are to be met. We now understand censorship on television, we know which Tv shows and Tv channels we would like our children to avoid watching. We come to expect certain types of nudity or language to be censored on what ever we are watching. With movies we understand the ratings systems and how that affects the content we might see. Therefore I think we understand the internet to be a sort freedom of speech free for all. I think the lack of censorship and regulation is what makes the internet the internet and what gives it it’s value as a major media source. With the use of self regulation content can be removed from what ever particular site. Posting pornographic pictures on facebook just doesn’t work because facebook is not the platform for that. Therefore those pictures will likely be flagged and taken down quickly. However if the site is a blog that relates to the porn industry then those pictures may not seem so inappropriate. I think this type of regulation works far better than any one entity like the government having to control the vast space that is the internet. As mentioned there are also tools for parents and even for yourself such as netnanny to help regulate what content you might come across. I think the way the internet works now is the best solution to these issues.

  2. I have mixed feelings on the subject of internet regulation. I do not like the idea of the government acting as a “big brother” and watching everything we read or post on the internet, but at the same time I am not sure how feasible self-regulation would be. As an internet user I see things that I feel are inappropriate on the web everyday, yet I rarely take the time to flag anything. I feel that many people’s laziness would result in an internet overrun with explicit content if the internet was left to self-regulation. Sure we would complain about it, but would we actually take the time to do anything about the inappropriate things we see? I do not know. There is also the issue of differences of opinions. What one person finds offensive another person will find perfectly fine. I don’t know how well self-regulation would work in these situations. I do like the idea you brought up of software like Net Nanny. We can regulate what information we see on the internet and decide what kind of sites we want access to. I just don’t know how well these types of software work. I feel that ultimately the government will win and take over internet regulation like it has with almost every other type of media.

  3. The only problem I see happening in the near or far future is that, like TV, film, radio, and print, eventually, offensive material is becoming less censored and more acceptable. Societal norms change from day-to-day, who’s to say that in a couple of years time it will be acceptable to look at and discuss with others about enjoying murdering someone? Isn’t it already a pretty less censored thing? Just think of all the films and TV shows readily available to young and old alike that broadcast violence like there’s no tomorrow. Being ashamed of violent acts and being hesitant to engage in them or otherwise face punishment might even become a thing of the past. The law might not change but what is a credible work of art will. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy shows like Criminal Minds and films like 300 but there comes a moment when you become a parent that you step back and realize the sheer amount of forces plaguing the media these days. If anything, the most censored aspect of media is nudity and sexuality but with the advent of people protesting against violence and promoting the idea that perhaps a little more sexuality in the eyes of children might be beneficial as opposed to violence. I can’t say I disagree but there’s plenty to censor in sexuality as well!

  4. I completely agree with your assessment that the internet should be left to self regulation. As it stands today, I wouldn’t not want the government to intervene in, what can be, a truly engaging public medium. It is a scary thought but I foresee the internet becoming very convoluted and off putting if the government were to get involved. As hopefully semi-intelligent citizens of this country we should be capable of governing this medium by ourselves without being coddled by governing bodies. Companies that run major sites (youtube ect.) will simply not be able to keep up with the dense volume of content that people upload. Barring some unforeseen changes the amount that people upload will only increase as time goes on and our tools of sharing evolve. A trait that I feel is incredibly lacking in the citizens of this country is self-restraint. As it does with many issues, it falls on the parents to teach their children responsibility, especially in this digital age where children literally exit the womb playing with an iPad. The times have changed, I know that is cliché to say but it is also a fact. The manner in which children are taught not only by their parents but also schools need to impress upon kids the dangers as well as the positive aspects of the internet.

  5. I happen to agree with you that the Internet should stay self regulated, the same issue has been going on for decades with television. People have rallied and screamed and the FCC is hovering over every complaint and taking what some might find offensive and banning it from all, which is censorship in my opinion. Many uneducated people do not realize that all Televisions sets unless you own one from the stone age contain a programmable “V” chip which gives the parent the ability to censor their channels individually, as they should and have every right to. Sadly however most parents are misinformed and waste their time complaining and ruining good television. The Internet should be treated the same, except for regulations that protect our right to a free Internet from such corporate giants as Google. “This film is not yet rated” is a documentary that I strongly recommend as a good argument pertaining to this subject. A filmmaker who received an NC-17 rating by the MPAA on his latest film is the subject of the documentary. He fought the MPAA and conducted a dispute hearing, which he ultimately lost. He angrily hired a private investigator to find out who these MPAA members where. Once the identities of the MPAA members were revealed it was sad to see how conservative and disconnected from the general population these individuals where. Such an influential position of censorship from the masses is simply unfair to be decided by such a jaded small group of people.

  6. I agree that self-regulation is the best way control the material on the Internet. It is better for people to decide for themselves if they feel something is offensive or not. Having the government do it could cause problems in the future. If the government regulated and controlled the Internet, where would the line be? Who would we hold accountable for the decisions made on what content can be viewed or posted on the web? The government is a vague and unsatisfactory answer. The Internet is supposed to be a free and open space for people to share content. If the government were to regulate the Internet there is a possibility, and it would be likely, that the Internet wouldn’t be as free and open as it is now. I am not saying we would be like China with how much control of the content they have in their country, but once you start down that road it is difficult to stop. I think the best way to regulate the content on the web is by the people who share the content to regulate themselves. Some sites regulate content on their sites pretty well. I think that Facebook has set up a good system of self-regulation on their site. Other sites could, and probably should, do something similar. It’s better to self-regulate than to have the government come in and do it for you.

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