We Need to Regulate the Internet
The internet has been around for more than 20 years, but it has only matured in the recent years with the cementing done with the introduction of extremely mobile lifestyles through smartphones & ultra-thin go-anywhere computers. We’re all connected now more than ever and no one would have seen this coming 20 years ago.
No one was prepared for this.
No one was prepared for the internet. No one expected us to talk to computers and get instant answers by the really early 2000s. Some of our governments have just started forming, and some constitutions were only relatively newly revised. Top companies that time like Nokia, BlackBerry, Yahoo! & even weren’t able to keep their positions, and all of the sudden, we were in a tech boom.
Our businesses aren’t prepared for the internet. Our governments & laws aren’t. When 9/11 happened, the PATRIOT Act that followed soon allowed a lot of loopholes in mass surveillance & privacy concerns.
Most of our schools aren’t. Some try, but online quizzes with searchable answers are not a good way to go. Information dissemination towards student bodies is messy. Some might do great, but again, most aren’t.
Our families aren’t. No parent knows how to exactly deal with the new generation because this is entirely new. Nobody initially understood that sometimes teachers give out follow ups & homework digitally. Some kids find R18 material over their new iPads.
We need to fight online propaganda.
Our minds aren’t. You know that from the spread of misinformation happening everywhere. People get into things because it has traction. Because it aligns with their current belief system. Because it seems to have a reliable source anyway.
People judge based on headlines, a few characters on a Tweet, and most people won’t open articles because it involves using data that you need to pay for. (see Net Neutrality)
And then you share without reading. In essence, you became a tool for spreading something that we’re unsure of.
That’s a simple way of looking how basic things might work, so look at it large scale. Imagine if a huge entity had the resources and the underground political machinery to fuel internet propaganda by hiring keyboard warriors, elect leaders, push legislation to sign into wars.
The world isn’t ready for the unregulated power of information.
We need to filter out lies. Facebook, Google, Twitter and other huge tech companies need to fix their algorithms. People have to develop an attitude of fact checking. Our government agencies have to push for net neutrality and limit services that are becoming too powerful.
I lift this from one of my previous articles to summarize net neutrality:
If Facebook is free, then the rest should be as well. If 500 MB of Spotify is Php100, then any form of 500MB data should be Php100
No, before you scream censorship, freedom of speech, I must say this isn’t the type of censorship that you’re thinking. We shouldn’t suppress unacceptable forms of media because it’s offensive; we should suppress them because they’re destructive.
It’s up to us to educate the people around us, and at the end of the day, vote for leaders who are well-informed about technology and would listen to its people. Or be the well-informed leaders ourselves.
Regulation is how we’ll fight this. Regulation on our small platforms, and regulation on the macro scale soon.
Cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time.
But before we become leaders of information & technology, we must remove any form of cognitive dissonance in us. Let’s block out lies from our platforms, and we need to be platforms for truth.
This isn’t a problem exclusive to my country. This has caused many political upsets in other countries, people who are misinformed about the US Elections, Brexit, the PHL elections, Senate Hearings, killings & even ISIS.
The entire world has to prepare an organization that will regulate the internet.
It’s a far shot, and in the wrong hands, it shall backfire; it only takes one wrong appointment. The agency has to be fully independent & neutral, and should not be in any way connected to the interests of the government, or internet and publishing companies. This way, content and control remains objective & factual. Ultimately, it’s a quick fact-checking court for digital content. Movies, literature and other fictional elements should remain untouched.
The composition would be quite tricky, since elections and appointments would not mean that they are qualified. We need people who are well-versed with history, technology, and maybe even lawyers. It has to be a council composed of a small percentage of individuals from different tech platforms to advise, but ultimately a lot of those who have experience with the academe. Again, it’s tricky to create such a complex body to watch over such a complex idea, but it’s one way to go.
The internet is a platform for all. Let’s not divide it, and hear out the opposite side. Be consistent. Your beliefs are not the only things that matter in this world.
Do you have other ideas on how we can prevent misinformation? We welcome that in here. Drop us your thoughts.