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Ear to the Ground

The Risk of Relying on Terms of Service

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Posted on Feb 8, 2014

opensourceway (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The taking down without explanation from Facebook of a photo of a Syrian man who was killed demonstrates the danger of creating activist networks in digital places that are owned and operated by corporations that have an interest in cooperating with power, a contributor to Techdirt writes.

Techdirt:

People use Facebook because it’s easy to connect with others and build communities, and that has value, but you’re risking having that speech disappeared.

This is why it’s often important for people to have platforms that they themselves control—though even then there are points of weakness and attack. You can host your own site, but people will go after upstream providers, including hosting companies and registrars. And service providers who have more open policies get hounded into creating “abuse” policies that appear to make sense at first… even though those abuse policies themselves are open to abuse.

… When we see people use these platforms in such abusive ways, it’s quite natural to want to see policies in place that let those abusive actions be stopped and taken down. But with such a process in place, you’re almost guaranteeing that it will be abused as well, and legitimate speech—such as that of these Syrian activists—gets removed and deleted (including important historical documentation and discussions that are now gone forever).

Read more here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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