Summary of “Better Online Living Through Content Moderation” by Melissa King
Melissa King’s article called “Better Online Living Through Content Moderation” discussed the various anti-content controls and rhetoric strategies that harass. She talks about the content control features, such as being able to block and ignore certain posts. A major problem concerning the content control features is the stigma associates with wanting those functions. Many of those users are labeled as overly sensitive or weak for wanting to take control of their social media. In some cases, the anxiety and threats online have invoked episodes of PTSD for people. King’s article is broken into three categories that go into further depth of the problem.
The first category is titled “ Computer-Chair Psychology” and it began by highlighting one of the major arguments. That argument is “that’s people blow the abuse and harassment they receive out of proportion” and they should be less sensitive (King). A comparison between Exposure Therapy, which slowly exposes people to what triggers their anxiety, to the content being shown to them on the internet. The problem with that comparison is that with exposure therapy, their exposure is limited and controlled, while what pops up on the Internet is not. King discusses the real safety threat associated with uncontrolled online harassment. In fact, “long -term exposure to threatening situations, such as online harassment, is one of the major causes of PTSD”(King).
The second category of King’s article is titled “Threating Legal Recourse”. In that section King discusses the increase in blocklists in response to hate groups such as Gamergate, TERFs, MRA/PUAs, and white supremacists. Legal action is identified as one of the major way in which people are fighting blocklists. In order to use a block list, King says that one must find one that suits their needs, subscribe to it, and install an app. Some people have claimed that the act of blocking people is equal to the act of harassment. King believes that this makes blocklists bad “because it means subjecting one’s Internet experience to the whims of another” (King). What King acknowledges that the arguments fail to recognize is how “vicious and pervasive” the harassments can be. Some, such as Gamergate, threatens people’s families, calls them, and posts pictures of their homes and addresses in order to keep them quiet.
The third and final category is titles “Towards More Personal Agency Over Online Experiences” discusses the ways in which hate mobs threaten and stalk people, which is blatantly illegal. King believes that people should be able to block people who attempt to assault them. The people who have spoken out the most against the block features are those who have not been targeted or abused. King discusses how people should not be called cowards or defamed for wanting to protect themselves. She concludes by talking about how a “one-size-fits-all” approach ignores the fact that all people are not the same and each person has their own psyche and experiences that shape how the Internet affects them. Thus, people should be allowed to control their Internet content without being shamed further abused.
Similarly to King, I believe that part of freedom is being able to control the aspects of your life. If at any people the pop-ups or people on the Internet are making you feel unsafe, you reserve the right to make changes for yourself without being condemned. I also believe that there is something seriously wrong with the fact that people are getting away with being able to stalk and harass people without being prosecuted; it is illegal and should be treated as such.