The internet is being made a scapegoat for all of society’s ills

Facebook can’t be trusted, but nor can the moralists and meddlers who want to regulate it to control what we can see, writes Eilis O’Hanlon


Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Offensive material, including homophobic or racist remarks, published on social media site Facebook has sparked a moral panic
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Offensive material, including homophobic or racist remarks, published on social media site Facebook has sparked a moral panic

The internet is simultaneously the greatest and worst invention of our lifetimes, and the CEOs of huge tech companies now hold more power than emperors of old. Their devices and dreams have colonised our minds to such an extent that it’s become impossible to imagine a world without them. The mental health of young people is clearly suffering as a result. Public debate has grown dumb and dumber under its pernicious influence.

But it is possible to believe all that, and still contend that the latest row over the existence of offensive material on Facebook is just another example of a moral panic. It was sparked this time by a Dispatches documentary for Channel 4 which went undercover in a Dublin-based training centre for content moderators to reveal what goes on behind the scenes.

The basic upshot of Inside Facebook: Secrets Of The Social Network was that the social media site, while claiming to be tackling offensive content, allows plenty of it stay online in order to generate web traffic and therefore revenue, however racist, misogynistic, homophobic, or faker than a €23 note.

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