Thursday, August 25, 2011

Peer-to-Peer Pressure

Isn't it interesting how demands to close down social media during times of civil unrest are characterised as a threat to liberty?

Especially given the huge potential these tools offer the The Man (at no cost to The Man) to gather evidence, monitor sentiment, predict behaviour, 'nudge' it, create demand and stimulate desires and generally coerce us into compliance using peer-to-peer pressure?

When we use social media, we collaborate with and enable the kind of surveillance that the Stasi could only have dreamt of. And we offer it to the state - and, more worryingly, to unelected corporations.

So: Is there a civil libertarian argument for closing down networks during civil strife - protecting people from incriminating themselves?

Tricky blighter, Johnny Liberty, eh?


MatGB said...

No. Harm principle applies, you can do stuff to protect yourself, but not to stop others hurting themselves.

Frankly, if someone is stupid enough to organise something publicly then that's their own stupidity.

Besides, what gets shut down? Twitter? Facebook? Blogger? Google+? Google itself?

My blog is on a "social media" platform based on the Livejournal codebase but substantially extended. The main difference between it and, say, Twitter is the character limit and greater flexibility on privacy options.

You can argue someone can be cut off after conviction. You can argue that it can be an offense or a contributory factor to sentencing.

But there's no argument at all to protect people from themselves that falls within a civil libertarian/liberal position. Within and authoritarian/tory/"nanny state" position, yes, but...

Paulie said...

There are loads of problems in there though, aren't there Mat?

Surely the state is acquiring new tools to coerce people without even having to create them?