In “Better Online Living through Content Moderation”, Melissa King discusses the issue people face when using “content control features” and how these people are viewed by others. Many websites offer features for blocking and censoring, however these features sometimes go unused in situations where they are needed. The idea that people who use blocking or censoring features are weak and sensitive is what keeps some from pushing that button. King believes, “While using content control features is not guaranteed to stop the effects of abuse, they do help and their use should not be disparaged or discouraged.” (King) The problem is not that some are “too sensitive”; the problem is that others are not sensitive enough to the thoughts and feelings of people around them.
King informs readers of the danger of online harassment and bullying, most noticeable when people feel they cannot or should not use their content control features. Words found online are thought to be just words and thus unable to do harm. Common misconceptions such as this, and other misconceptions about stress and the “cure” are why many are unaware of the consequences their actions hold. King reveals that the belief (carried by many) that only veterans of war suffer from PTSD is false, and any person under stress and experiencing extreme anxiety can suffer from the disorder. Another misconception is of the use of “Exposure Therapy”. Victims of online bullying and harassment cannot be cured by being exposed to more bullying and harassment. This continued exposure, however, can worsen the stress the victim may feel. This “pseudo” practice of Exposure Therapy lacks the control and professionalism the real therapy (supervised by qualified persons) contains.
As surprising as it may be, King mentions oppositions of blocklists. Some people believe the use of content control features and blocklists takes away their freedom of speech. These people would rather the victims “grow thicker skin” than them (the people opposed to blocklists) be silenced. However, the point the people in the opposition miss is that they, in fact, do not lose any freedom. No one is stopping anyone from talking and saying what they want to say. Everyone has a choice to listen. Being blocked does not mean one is being silenced, it just means someone has stopped listening (as is their right).
The internet can be the breeding grounds for violence. Words can hurt, and, furthermore, words often precede action. King believes victims of online bullying and harassment should not have to constantly face their abusers.The content control features that are employed do not violate anyone’s right, but instead protect the rights of a minority. People should not be afraid to use these content control features as they are there to help.
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