Controlling Your Online Space

Melissa King’s Better Online Living through Content Moderation addresses the “anti-content control rhetoric.” In the digital age new information is constantly and consistently presented to people, especially if said people have an online presence. Features such that block and limit search results and privacy options are given to users as needed as one does not need all of said information (for various reasons.) She claims that with or without reason an online user should be allowed to control the data they are receiving.

King says there is a pressure on those that use these features as some cast of a very negative view on content control. This causes people to be exposed to materials they are adverse to and even worse than that, materials that can quite literally harm some user’s health i.e. sufferers of PTSD.

She then addresses some of the ways controlled content is fought. “You’re over-exaggerating, it’s really not that bad. Try not to be so sensitive.” Those statements minimize the seriousness of disorders like PTSD or anxiety. The idea being one must expose themselves to the trigger to attempt to get better. King calls this an “informal parallel to Exposure Therapy.” Internet attacks testing one’s mental health are not the same as a controlled therapy setting she says. She also notes that this kind of attack can stem from a generational disparity as millennials want to tackle tough or sensitive issues head on.

People also do not understand that PTSD is not just a disorder caused my war, but an overall traumatic event. Bullying is real and prevalent in online spaces and some people really do need the block feature to escape this trauma.

Another method of pushing back on content control is legally. People say that blocklists are harmful are damaging. However, blocklists are designed carefully and a person has an option to be a part of it. Blocklists help protect users from attacks especially in certain online communities, her example being women in “male” spaces such as video game or technology and science bases. King believes as long as someone can be attacked personally, anti- content control shouldn’t be up for discussion.


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