Setting the controls to Max

Flame wars and incivility are part of the freedom of the internet, and we tamper with them at our perilWhat do the Max Gogarty story, the Wikileaks outrage, Lord Falconer’s genuinely demented plan to retrospectively censor the entire internet, and the UK government’s continued demands that ISPs disconnect and blacklist filesharers without legal process all have in common? The internet of course, but more. The demand that the internet be controlled.We’ve heard the demand from a dozen writers here on Cif over the past 18 months; an insistent clamour demanding civility, demanding respect, but we now see, in the wake of the Gogarty cock-up, a renewed and broadened campaign. Cif contributor Simon Fanshawe popped up on a BBC Breakfast News report which claimed that the flaming suffered by Gogarty – in fact, mostly directed at the Guardian – was cyberbullying. The opposing view; that criticising poor writing and criticising apparent nepotism is a perfectly reasonable response to a blog, didn’t get a look in. A great shame the BBC didn’t invite David Cox along, whose article yesterday went some way to supporting readers’ right to respond, restoring perspective and balance to a discussion that was turning into a very peculiar flame war: established media versus their own audience. But instead, for the BBC, as for the Guardian and, to be fair, every other media organisation in the country, the instinctive, default position is that any uncontrolled area of the internet, any uncontrolled user generated content, any uncontrolled expression of opinion is at best dangerous, at worst criminal, by definition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.