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[liberationtech] Fw: [progressiveexchange] Facebook interfering with activism Pages

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at
Tue Sep 21 12:30:32 PDT 2010

On Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 2:03 PM, Jim Youll <jyoull at> wrote:
> I guess that was my point.
> Application makers don't control those "substantive rules."
> Even perfect net neutrality can't make terms of service go away completely,
> for content- or action-driven offenses, can it? As cool as it would be (and
> interesting to me as something I think about a lot) self-enforcement just
> doesn't exist in either policy or architecture. Could be a very long time
> before it does, if it ever does.

This bag of problems isn't at all unique to the Internet. In the US at
least there are increasing problems where the most important public
spaces are increasingly privately owned— shopping malls, even outdoor
"city centers". People attempt to express themselves freely and run
into conflict with the right of the private owners to use their
property as they see fit.

I'm certainly not trying to put the blame on corporations here— there
is a real conflict of rights at play.  Outside of the Internet one
solution to this problem is the existence of public spaces (though, as
I mentioned these currently have the issue of declining relevance, but
at least they exist).

On the internet there is no direct equivalent. The entire
infrastructure is the summation of many privately owned parts. You
lose anytime these private owners exclude you, and sometimes you're
vulnerable to any of several at the same time. (Your ISP, A datacenter
provider, A web service, a far end ISP,  and the governments and
markets with powe to influence any of them).

This could be solved— at least in part— by regulation, but I think
that is unreasonable and unrealistic. It can also be solved with
technology (and perhaps just enough legal help to keep the
technological solution viable)— by, more or less, inventing the
commons for the Internet.

I'm specifically not mentioning any particular development in this
space, because I doubt any of them have nailed it yet— and I doubt
that we need a single solution in any case.  I'm also not pushing on
any single design— "peer to peer" is over-hyped in the extreme.

What we need is a system that doesn't leave any single party (or small
collection of parties) solely responsible for the availability of
someone elses information. There are many ways to achieve this
technically, no doubt many of them have yet to be imagined.

Simply expecting parties (private corporations or not) to play nice
and respect free expression is a tall request and I think we already
have reliable evidence that it can't be counted on when it really
matters.  No one wants to suppress "adopt a kitten day", the real test
is social, political, and artistic speech far less agreeable than even
a BP protest.

I don't think it would be fair to require Facebook to spend their
money hosting a "why naziism is best" page, but if we want people to
be able to express honest and frank views about controversial or
unpopular subjects some mechanism must be provided which enables this.

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