Me, Myself, and Self-Regulation

When I think back to the first few days of class and starting up my first Twitter account, I vividly remember how aware I was of what I was posting. I wouldn’t allow myself to type anything vulgar or make statements that I wouldn’t want my grandmother to see someday. I self regulated my posts, and while I think I’m still going strong with that self discipline, users of other social media certainly are not.

Simon Waldman’s article “Harmful Content on the Internet: Self-Regulation is the Best Way Forward,” makes his best point merely in the title. But, in addition to his arguments, I would like to ask the question, “Best for whom?” Like the author said, regulation is not easy. Despite the amount of effort it takes, self-regulation benefits the social networking sites as much as it benefits the users.

Take Facebook for example, if its users strictly monitored their own behavior there would be little to no need for the “Report” button. Clearly this is not the case. Facebook’s initiative to regulate content on the site keeps it a clean and enjoyable environment for its users. Conversely, a site that has neither the regulation of the service nor that of the users can quickly become a hostile environment. I often hear stories from friends about sites they call “the sewer of the Internet.” I’ve never seen them, but that’s based solely on fact that no one is self-regulating anything on those sites.

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Think about it like a business, if careful monitoring and regulation are utilized in a site, the interference of government becomes less likely. Similarly, if users self regulate their posts then there will be less of a need for the site to do it for them. Nobody wants to be told what to do, but like Waldman said, it’s not always the content that defies the terms of service that makes us want to exit the site. Only the user can truly regulate this content. Additionally, Waldman makes a strong point when he states, “the ‘dark side’ of the internet is actually the ‘dark side’ of society.” Despite all efforts, there will still be a “dark side.” Whether it is in society or the Internet, it is still there.

If I had to offer up my own personal information to encourage self-regulating activity on the Internet, it would be to enhance the education of proper use. That is, like everything else in life, we need to learn about it before we use it. Also, considering the possible negative consequences of no self-regulation may encourage people to think twice before making a post. Again, like the author said, we should not simply wait around until something terrible happens on the Internet.

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The Internet, when self regulated, can be an awesome thing. So here are a few questions for you to think about. Would you trust yourself to monitor and regulate your own content? How about the content of others? Or are you like me and think that we can trust ourselves but not totally everyone else?

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3 Responses to Me, Myself, and Self-Regulation

  1. As me speaking solely for myself, I know I can trust myself to monitor and regulate my own content. However, can I trust others to monitor themselves? Of course not. But that is part of the danger we all put ourselves into when we open our web browser. We all know (hopefully) that we are going to get vastly different user-made content when we visit facebook as opposed to 4chan. It is not unlike going to the movie theatre and buying a ticket for a PG-13 film over an R rated film, you do not know EXACTLY what content you are going to be exposed to, however you have a slight idea about what sort of content is excluded from the lower rating versus the no holds barred rating. This is a simple bit of advice, but heed my suggestion: enter the internet at your own risk! Walk down the well-lit sidewalks and stay out of the dark alleys. There is plenty of danger afoot but it can be easily avoided.

  2. In, my opinion, self-regulation works for some individuals, but not on larger level. First, I’d argue there are two distinct types of regulation, the first being self-regulation in which one individual regulates his or her self. Here’s a relevant anecdote. I’m a late adopter of social media. I started using Facebook in 2011. At that time, I posted very little as I was unfamiliar with the norms of communication. However, once my social network grew, I posted more frequently. Then, I started school. Things that would’ve been acceptable or humorous were now inappropriate with my colleagues and coworkers on my social network. Now, much of what I post is heavily self-regulated. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily follow that everyone is going to be that selective online. This is problematic because we’re relying on the self-regulation of others and not everyone has the same criteria of what is appropriate. That’s why regulation is necessary.
    The second type of “self-regulation” is group regulation. This is when an online community determines what’s appropriate. The “report” button on Facebook is an excellent example. This type of self-regulation is more effective because it draws on a larger sample of society, therefore regulation more closely follows our societal norms.
    As the global importance of the Internet continues to grow it’s important to have standards. I’m partly inclined to agree with Waldman. He argues, “the right direction is for there to be intelligent, independently-set but industry-agreed, standard practices, procedures and guidelines for companies to adhere to.” A combination of industry regulation and self-regulation seems an acceptable starting point.

  3. Pingback: Wk 11 | ryanjory

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