Erasing the Internet Comes at a Cost [Content Made Simple]

Issue #234: Online friendships meet offline, iJustine on her pioneering career, and more.

More Content Moderation Isn’t Always Better



Content moderation is eating the world. Platforms’ rule-sets are exploding, their services are peppered with labels, and tens of thousands of users are given the boot in regular fell swoops. No platform is immune from demands that it step in and impose guardrails on user-generated content. This trend is not new, but the unique circumstances of a global public health emergency and the pressure around the US 2020 election put it into overdrive. Now, as parts of the world start to emerge from the pandemic, and the internet’s troll in chief is relegated to a little-visited blog, the question is whether the past year has been the start of the tumble down the dreaded slippery content moderation slope or a state of exception that will come to an end.


This is a well-written piece on why too much content moderation may not be a good idea. One of the most fascinating aspects of social internet culture is the constant reckoning we have to have with the root evil of humanity. Original, pervasive sin is as clear in the problem of moderating the internet as it is anywhere. Moderating internet content and who can or cannot use it (as I wrote this week) is a seemingly impossible task.


Link #1: Now Going Viral: Meeting Online Friends in Real Life

Taylor Lorenz does it again. Great piece on online friendships turning into offline friendships.

The No More Lonely Friends gatherings are the latest example of online interactions turning into real life events in the pandemic. In May, after an invitation to a 17-year-old’s birthday party went viral on TikTok, thousands of teenagers showed up in Huntington Beach, Calif. YouTubers, TikTokers and live streamers went to make posts about it for those who couldn’t attend. Eventually, there was a riot and the police moved in, arresting 150 people and issuing an emergency curfew.

Link #2: iJustine on her viral TikTok memes, content creation burnout, and why she never deleted her 'embarrassing' old YouTube videos

Justine is an icon, truly, of the social internet. When people are reading history books about the beginning of YouTube and influencer culture, Justine should be the person they read about as one of the earliest pioneers.

Justine Ezarik has seen the TikTok memes about her, and she's jealous of them.

The 37-year-old Los Angeles creator is a mainstay of YouTube culture. Known as iJustine, Ezarik has been active on the platform for more than 15 years — since 2006 — one year after YouTube was founded. Ezarik had influence online years before the term "influencer" was added to the dictionary and before becoming one was kids' dream job.

Link #3: Journalists and Fandoms Collide and Everyone Loses

Super interesting peek into an important, but fraught relationship between passionate fandoms and the journalists who report on them.

“Stans, and just as importantly, anti-stans, see the world in blacks and whites — there is only hyping someone up or tearing someone down — but a writer’s job for the most part is to view the world in shades of gray,” she says.

The new reality of internet culture reporting only cements the importance of anti-harassment measures taken by both reporters and their organizations. 

“Make sure you and your family don’t have personal information readily available online, mute offensive keywords in your mentions and report abuse mercilessly,” Weekman says. “Your work doesn’t end when your piece goes up. Consider the next few days of monitoring fallout to be part of the process.”


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