“Better Online Living through Content Moderation”: Reading Summary

Melissa King’s “Better Online Living through Content Moderation” is an article that discusses the use of online censorship features and how they are viewed in our society.  She includes online usage of blocks, mutes, and red flags that protect users against undesirable content as censorship.  She explains that these measures are necessary for people who suffer from ailments like PTSD and have to tailor their online experience to prevent anxiety.  Her main argument and her reason for writing, is the condescending behavior displayed by other members of the community that may not feel as vulnerable to online content or attacks.

Blocking someone is usually frowned upon although it is a reasonable way to handle an online issue with another person.  King fears that the way cyber bullying victims are treated is careless and inconsiderate.  She claims that online discomfort is a real problem and should not be shrugged off the way it has been.  For instance, the commonly heard suggestion to people who suffer from online problems is to “get over it” or to be less sensitive, however, that way of thinking is ignorant according to King.  The assumptions that a person can simply prepare themselves to deal with such trauma better is an incorrect allusion to Exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is basically when someone is exposed to more of the things associated with the things that is causing him/her discomfort in an effort to desensitize themselves.  The reason this is comparison is neglectful is that internet bullying can actually cause PTSD itself, not the things associated with online attacks.

She also points out that the younger generation of Americans, or millenials, are actually less sensitive than previous more political correct generations.  With that being said, everyone’s tolerance is different and everyone is not willing to exposed to the same things.  The argument that many make is that when certain groups on the internet are blocklisted due to content, the internet experience is being tailored to fit the wishes of one person who may be offended.  Although that is a serious concern, one can not ignore how heinous online attacks can be.  Often times people’s families are threatened and even scared into silence.  King writes about clubs like Gamergate that pride themselves on wreaking havoc through online encounters.  Instead of looking to stop Gamergate, people are often more critical of the people who fear the dangerous group.  Another dimension that can not be ignored is how frequent such abuse occurs.  Women who are present in predominantly male industries like the video game world are chronically subject to abuse.  Many people are essentially expecting these women to spend more time dealing with abuse that they haven’t brought among themselves.

To conclude, an all inclusive blanket of rules for the internet is inconsiderate to a large number of users.  It subjects people to illegal activities, PTSD triggers, and bullying that can easily be prevented.  This issue highlights the need for a social and cultural shift in America and the way we use the internet.  If bullying can be blocked in real life, it should be blocked also on the internet.