Thursday, December 06, 2018

Tumblr adult-content ban relates to FOSTA; two big events this week on the rapid deterioration of free speech within user generated content

Tumblr’s recent ban on explicit nudity (to take effect Dec. 17) has a connection to FOSTA, according to the latter part of a Wired story by Paris Martineau.

People in the sex industry had reportedly ventured to Tumblr after various other opportunities were closed down (including some personals on Craigslist, and subreddits) .  However Tumbr’s new policy (related possibly to an “illegal content” filter failure as discussed on my COPA blog Dec. 4, which led to a ban from Apple’s iOS app store)  removes one more resource.  Large companies (like Verizon with Tumblr) are taking over smaller one’s and instituting stricter policies, partly because downstream liability protections are getting weaker (esp. Section 230 weakening due to FOSTA), and because advertisers fear political pressure, especially from the Left, on hate speech or content degrading to women. 
Out has a particularly detailed account  (by Alexander Cheeves) of how some LGBTQ content (especially trans) has been censored because of FOSTA-generated fears; gay content may be disproportionately affected by FOSTA-generated downstream liability fears. 

(On the video, go to 9:45)

One wonders if Blogger (this platform) and Wordpress will have to review their policies with respect to this issue.  

Business models in the Internet simply are not as robust for monetizing user generated content as they used to be, for a variety of reasons, including maturation of user behavior. 

The First Amendment Coalition is conducting a forum “What Happened to the Golden Age of Free Speech?” in San Francisco today (link). I hope there will be a video of it available soon.

And on Friday December 7, 2018 the Charles Koch Foundation sponsors “The Future of Free Speech Online”, a day long event at the Newseum in Washington DC.  I am registered for it. , 
I suspect that business models, in wake of threats of regulation, and investor concerns – as well as the reported bias against conservative values on some platforms, will be fully addressed.  There are plenty of verbal rumors around about things that haven’t been written up, so I wonder what will get said at these two sessions, especially considering who is sponsoring it.  Stay tuned.

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