Version 1.5b Castle in the Sky
lecture: Sin in the time of Technology
How social media companies are creating a global morality standard through content regulations
Technology companies now hold an unprecedented ability to shape the world around us by limiting our ability to access certain content and by crafting proprietary algorithm that bring us our daily streams of content.
The great waves of change across the epochs have traditionally required a recalibration of society's moral compass. We see the theological and ideological underpinnings of the post-Enlightenment paradigm set out by the Protestant Reformation and the US Civil Rights Movement, we have come to see self determination as a bedrock of civilization.
The reach of social media companies has created a class of corporations that are able to influence – if not curate – the world outlook of over a billion people on certain days. This unprecedented capacity gives Facebook power to shape discourse approaching the degree of religious institutions and the state – two of the traditional institutions that we have long relied on for shaping our society-wide morality and values.
By compelling users to comply with the arbitrary content standards laid out in their ToS, Facebook is essentially laying out a new global standard for what people can and can not see. This standard, however, is not derived from the same moralistic traditions of previous moral paradigms, but is a calculated business decision crafted in the boardrooms of Silicon Valley. Risk averse, Facebook has created a global content standard that is in place not to contextualize the world for their users, but to meet perceived expectations of acceptable speech in a diverse range of nations.
Our project, OnlineCensorship.org, seeks to capture instances of censorship across social media platforms. We will present OnlineCensorship.org and demonstrate how you can help us push companies toward a more open practice.
Start time: 17:15
Room: Hall 2
Track: Ethics, Society & Politics