The Internet of Garbage
“The internet is, and always has been, mostly garbage,” argues Sarah Jeong in her book about the intractable problem of online harassment, The Internet of Garbage. First published in 2015, Jeong’s text provides an accessible look at how online harassment works, how it might be categorized and understood, and why the structure of the internet and the policies surrounding it are incapable of stamping it out. Jeong provides a clear taxonomy to better discuss the motivations behind and impact of online harassment, including doxing and SWATting. She outlines why the tactics for fighting spam and enforcing copyright laws can’t cope with harassment, especially where it intersects with issues of free speech and censorship. She argues that the marketplace of ideas is something that has never truly existed for everyone across race and gender, and suggests that architectural solutions are needed. “There are two futures for social media platforms. One involves professional, expert moderation entwined with technical solutions. The other is sweatshops of laborers clicking away at tickets.”
There’s some good suggestions in this short book that I think I’m going to implement on the communities that I’m personally responsible for. Step one: strong moderation and reporting tools.