It’s estimated that more than 40 perr cent of internet posts are created by bots. The average person is 70 per cent more likely to re-post false posts than the truth. (Pexels)

COLUMN: It’s time to change our approach to the internet

The web is a largely unregulated wasteland

Facebook has finally announced that it would no longer allow advertisements that include misinformation about vaccines.

It has also promised to diminish (not prevent, mind you) the reach of anti-vax groups that spread anti-vaccine misinformation.

It’s a move that should have made me happy, but it didn’t.

Instead, it caused me to reflect upon the fact that, between the internet writ large and the specific amoral development of social media platforms, society has weaponized the worst of human nature and that Facebook’s token effort is too little, and far too late.

Let’s face it.

The internet is a largely unregulated wasteland where conspiracy theories have thrived, including the ones that say that vaccines have been knowingly dispensed by big pharma despite their causing autism (they don’t).

And while Facebook’s move might shut down some of the money streams of that particularly harmful nonsense, the conspiracy will continue to be propagated by thousands of websites and believed and reposted by ill-informed moms and dads everywhere.

Other ridiculous, sometimes harmful, websites will continue as well. There are sites that promote the belief that the Holocaust is a fraud, that the Earth is hollow and populated by lizard people, that climate change is a hoax, that school mass shootings are staged, and that disco was the epitome of musical achievement.

On Dec. 4, 2016, Edgar Maddison Welch, a 28-year-old man from Salisbury, North Carolina, fired three shots from an AR-15-style rifle, into Comet Ping Pong. The pizza restaurant had been alleged, online, to be a front for a child sex ring run by Hillary Clinton.

Sigh.

While many would argue that an unrestricted internet is a reflection of our fundamental freedom of speech, I struggle to square that with “Best Gore,” a site that posts graphic videos of people having their heads and appendages removed, or the pro-anorexia and bulimia site that advises young people to starve themselves to death.

The instant message apps that we all have on our phones are daily being used to harass and intimidate and a recent study found that we are more than 70 per cent more likely to re-post false information than the truth.

We used to be better than this.

We used to value the truth, didn’t revel in the ignorance expressed by others, and we repudiated those who spread lies.

We used to respect and strive for intelligence; we didn’t sneer at those who knew more than we did – we admired them and sought their guidance.

As a result, we built great things and cured disease and reached for the stars. And we didn’t sit, staring at our devices, during those precious hours with our children.

Bill Gates once described the internet as the town square for a global village. It’s up to us to ensure that it’s not a village square where incivility and stupidity are tolerated and where the thoughts of hateful village idiots are unquestioningly embraced.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Most Victoria transit takers thank their driver: poll

Bus riders thank drivers on Transit Driver Appreciation Day

Volunteer needed to empty dog poop can in Saanich Park

Local volunteers do the work of irresponsible dog owners at Mount Doug

Vancouver Island overdue for the big one, can also expect mega-thrust tsunami

The last big earthquake was 70 years ago in Courtenay

Sexual assault charge dropped against former CFB Esquimalt member

Navy Lt. Ronald Clancy was charged with two counts of sexual assault in August 2018

BC Ferries considers passenger only ferry between West Shore and Victoria

Royal Bay, Esquimalt and Ship Point considered as part of study into new route

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

Horvat scores 16 seconds into OT as Canucks beat Blackhawks 3-2

Pettersson sets rookie scoring record for Vancouver

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Most Read