ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Fix the Internet

Updated on December 12, 2013
Source

Filtering the Internet by User


We live in a world today where everything is accessible via the Internet. You can type in virtually any question or request any sort of information and the Internet will provide you the answer that you’re looking for. In the last ten years, social media has become the leading source for website traffic on the Internet. People are posting daily about their lives. People are able to stay connected with friends near and far. Social media has been a beneficial way to see what others are doing and find people like-minded; however, many bad influences have surfaced because of this. Groups and blogs have been formed that promote harmful things such as suicide, bulimia, and anorexia. These posts can be harmfully triggering to people and need to be monitored in some way. How should the boundless Internet monitor these groups and posts? Should the companies that own the websites do mass banning of these posts or should there be a system set up where the viewer is able to filter what they see? Posts on social media websites should be monitored by the viewer instead of banned by the web-company because posts on social media sites can affect each person in a separate way that can be either beneficial or trigger a harmful result.

Each person looks at something differently than another person. No matter where you are from, you have an opinion that has been defined by your culture, your race, your class, and multiple other variables. One saying we are all familiar with, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” is a perfect example. What one person may see as wrong and hurtful, another may see as educational and insightful. Seeing posts on a social media website is similar. What one person may strongly dislike, another person may like and want to see more of. For example, on August 6, 1945 and on August 9, 1945, two atomic bombs, “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. If you are of Japanese descent, a picture of one of these bombs could remind you of the pain and discomfort of that day. It could bring up hatred against the Americans that did this to your country. However, if an American saw that same picture, it could make them realize the wrong and hurt that came along with the bombs, and could educate them to not repeat the mistakes made by their forefathers. So, this photo shouldn’t be banned from the site; rather, it should be filtered for the people that either do or don’t want to see photos, posts, and blogs similar to this.

A post about religion, homosexuality, abortion, slavery, suicide, anorexia, or bulimia could be harmfully triggering to someone, but could be extremely helpful for another. If one person sees a post about suicide, it could cause them to consider suicide because they see that others are talking about it. At the same time, this post could be helpful to someone contemplating suicide. They could see a post about it and engage in a conversation that could lead them to seeking out help. A post to the Tumblr Staff from the user catinablender regarding the policy change stated, “In the midst of my eating disorder, in junior high and high school, I often felt the online community I found through blogs kept me alive” (39). This case-in-point indicates that blogs delving into deep and personal subject areas do make a difference in people’s lives. They can be powerful enough to keep people going. If social media websites took them away, it could give people like catinablender nowhere to go to seek comfort and find solace in a web-community. Clearly, such posts do affect people in different ways.

These debate-provoking posts shouldn’t be completely taken off the websites, but they should be filtered. Facebook has developed a system whereby users are able to hide posts that they dislike or hide posts from certain users. Users are also able to report these images if the user believes that they are something that should not be allowed on the social media website. Then, Facebook reviews the report and sends the user a judgment of whether or not that post should be deleted from Facebook and takes steps to prevent those kinds of photos from appearing in the future. On many other social media websites there is very little action being taken on actually limiting the posts people are allowed to put on their pages. One exception to this claim is seen in an article posted by Tumblr. One of the top social media website companies, has taken steps toward eliminating posts, “Last Thursday, we posted a draft of a new policy against blogs that actively promote self-harm” (Tumblr Staff 36). While the idea of stopping the promotion of self-harm was good, the way they went about eliminating it wasn’t. Eliminating these posts urges the viewer to find other places to find the information and community. Often other places would be much less monitored. We have to make sure that, instead of having these web-companies ban this content and not allowing people even to debate it, they provide a way to allow the user to filter what they do and don’t see through their own profile. While signing up for a profile on the social media website, an option could be to have a survey that asks the person key questions about their life, thus helping the website to determine what the person would want to see or not see. The website could ask the person if they want their posts that they see to be limited based on their answers. Another option is to, like Facebook, provide the option to hide the post, hide all future posts from that person, or hide all similar posts because the person doesn’t like the content. Such user input on filtering would empower the user while also protecting the user as much as the user chooses to be protected.

The primary argument against allowing viewers to control their own content is that viewers are not necessarily going to be able to control everything they see. Someone who struggles with anorexia may look up posts that are associated with the “thinspiration” blogs (posts that promote unhealthy eating styles and unnatural body images), and this could trigger them into harmful behavior by seeing that there is a web-community out there that supports them. Using these blogs, they are given the determination to continue with their harmful behavior and are not able to overcome their struggles by changing their ways. While this is true, and it is a problem that occurs through such websites, having the web-companies ban these groups and even individual posts will not eliminate the problem. A post from C.P. to the Tumblr Staff said, “By forcing sufferers to seek support elsewhere, you’re making the tell-tale signs harder to find. How many lives were saved because a family member or friend ‘caught’ a cutter, binge eater, or laxative abuser online on Tumblr? Your new policy is removing one method of ‘catching’ these life-threatening obsessions before they kill” (45). This means that some “sufferers” use the Internet as a place to vent, discuss or participate with others online regarding their illness. These posts and blogs can be a way for people to be able to find information and seek help. They can also be a way for friends and family to realize that an individual is having a problem and intervene before the problem gets any worse. Eliminating these posts, blogs, or sites would eliminate one of the major ways of bringing people to recovery. While we may think these posts only do harm, we need to remember to take a step back and see why people are going to these pages. They go to find like-minded people and find encouragement. They want to be around other people that care about them. Eliminating these websites would do more harm to these people because it would ruin, what they believe to be, the only accepting community for them and their chosen lifestyle. Instead of deleting these blogs, using them to provide these people with useful information about the topic and allowing them to disable or enable what they could see would be a healthy alternative that could lead to a better outcome.

Another argument is that any promotion of self-harm is similar to yelling the word “Fire” in a crowded room. Saying harmful words is illegal, as they are not part of a person’s right to freedom of speech. This is true. People shouldn’t be promoting self-harm, but banning posts that are harmfully triggering will not eliminate that problem. Such posts are not hurting innocent people. A blogger sent a message to the Tumblr Staff saying, “I have never known a non-eating-disordered person to develop an eating disorder after being exposed to pro-ana” (46). When a person stumbles upon one of these blogs or scrolls past a post that could potentially contain harmful material, it is not going to change them. The people seeking out these pages are not people that are healthy and have no problems that are associated with the issue. The traffic coming in is the people that have issues associated with the topic. These areas of the social media websites are bringing in traffic of people that have some insecurities and seeking an outlet. People that are searching for help. Without these pages, there would be nowhere for them to go. These blogs can help a person cope with their problem and potentially find helpful information that can aid them in overcoming the problem. For this reason it is necessary that these posts and pages are not taken down, but are rather filtered by the people that view them. The best way to solve the issues that these people have is with knowledge about their problem. Knowledge about the problem will help the people overcome their problems. Valuable knowledge can be obtained from these various web-based posts, groups and blogs. Such posts and groups should be left up and been given a platform where Internet users can debate and discuss the topics and provide people with useful information to help them in their time of need.

So, how do we tackle the problem of containing the boundless limits of posts on the social media websites used today? We have to allow the user to limit the content that they see. It is important that we don’t eliminate the pages that contain potentially harmful content; but rather we use these pages as helpful outlets for the people coming to them. Using these platforms as ways to help the person rather than eliminate these pages will give a better outcome. Allowing others to continue to see this content and be able to educate themselves about the good and bad associated with the content is an important part of their recovery. There are so many posts out there. In an extremely accessible world, we need to provide people with information about these issues to help them through situations where they see these posts. We shouldn’t try and acti like they don’t exist by attempting to delete them all. The best way to address them is to allow posts, blogs, and sites to be filtered by the viewer. Through a system of information provided by the user, and associated filtering levels chosen by the user, a social media environment should be perpetuated that will optimize the internet use for the benefit of those needing access to certain sites and for those desiring to be filtered from those same sites.

Works Cited

"Follow up: Tumblr’s New Policy Against Pro-Self-Harm Blogs." Minding the Body. Eds. Katherine Cook & Martina Miles. Eugene, OR: University of Oregon Composition Program, 2013. 36-51. Print.

A post about religion, homosexuality, abortion, slavery, suicide, anorexia, or bulimia could be harmfully triggering to someone, but could be extremely helpful for another. If one person sees a post about suicide, it could cause them to consider suicide because they see that others are talking about it. At the same time, this post could be helpful to someone contemplating suicide. They could see a post about it and engage in a conversation that could lead them to seeking out help. A post to the Tumblr Staff from the user catinablender regarding the policy change stated, “In the midst of my eating disorder, in junior high and high school, I often felt the online community I found through blogs kept me alive” (39). This case-in-point indicates that blogs delving into deep and personal subject areas do make a difference in people’s lives. They can be powerful enough to keep people going. If social media websites took them away, it could give people like catinablender nowhere to go to seek comfort and find solace in a web-community. Clearly, such posts do affect people in different ways.

These debate-provoking posts shouldn’t be completely taken off the websites, but they should be filtered. Facebook has developed a system whereby users are able to hide posts that they dislike or hide posts from certain users. Users are also able to report these images if the user believes that they are something that should not be allowed on the social media website. Then, Facebook reviews the report and sends the user a judgment of whether or not that post should be deleted from Facebook and takes steps to prevent those kinds of photos from appearing in the future. On many other social media websites there is very little action being taken on actually limiting the posts people are allowed to put on their pages. One exception to this claim is seen in an article posted by Tumblr. One of the top social media website companies, has taken steps toward eliminating posts, “Last Thursday, we posted a draft of a new policy against blogs that actively promote self-harm” (Tumblr Staff 36). While the idea of stopping the promotion of self-harm was good, the way they went about eliminating it wasn’t. Eliminating these posts urges the viewer to find other places to find the information and community. Often other places would be much less monitored. We have to make sure that, instead of having these web-companies ban this content and not allowing people even to debate it, they provide a way to allow the user to filter what they do and don’t see through their own profile. While signing up for a profile on the social media website, an option could be to have a survey that asks the person key questions about their life, thus helping the website to determine what the person would want to see or not see. The website could ask the person if they want their posts that they see to be limited based on their answers. Another option is to, like Facebook, provide the option to hide the post, hide all future posts from that person, or hide all similar posts because the person doesn’t like the content. Such user input on filtering would empower the user while also protecting the user as much as the user chooses to be protected.

The primary argument against allowing viewers to control their own content is that viewers are not necessarily going to be able to control everything they see. Someone who struggles with anorexia may look up posts that are associated with the “thinspiration” blogs (posts that promote unhealthy eating styles and unnatural body images), and this could trigger them into harmful behavior by seeing that there is a web-community out there that supports them. Using these blogs, they are given the determination to continue with their harmful behavior and are not able to overcome their struggles by changing their ways. While this is true, and it is a problem that occurs through such websites, having the web-companies ban these groups and even individual posts will not eliminate the problem. A post from C.P. to the Tumblr Staff said, “By forcing sufferers to seek support elsewhere, you’re making the tell-tale signs harder to find. How many lives were saved because a family member or friend ‘caught’ a cutter, binge eater, or laxative abuser online on Tumblr? Your new policy is removing one method of ‘catching’ these life-threatening obsessions before they kill” (45). This means that some “sufferers” use the Internet as a place to vent, discuss or participate with others online regarding their illness. These posts and blogs can be a way for people to be able to find information and seek help. They can also be a way for friends and family to realize that an individual is having a problem and intervene before the problem gets any worse. Eliminating these posts, blogs, or sites would eliminate one of the major ways of bringing people to recovery. While we may think these posts only do harm, we need to remember to take a step back and see why people are going to these pages. They go to find like-minded people and find encouragement. They want to be around other people that care about them. Eliminating these websites would do more harm to these people because it would ruin, what they believe to be, the only accepting community for them and their chosen lifestyle. Instead of deleting these blogs, using them to provide these people with useful information about the topic and allowing them to disable or enable what they could see would be a healthy alternative that could lead to a better outcome.

Another argument is that any promotion of self-harm is similar to yelling the word “Fire” in a crowded room. Saying harmful words is illegal, as they are not part of a person’s right to freedom of speech. This is true. People shouldn’t be promoting self-harm, but banning posts that are harmfully triggering will not eliminate that problem. Such posts are not hurting innocent people. A blogger sent a message to the Tumblr Staff saying, “I have never known a non-eating-disordered person to develop an eating disorder after being exposed to pro-ana” (46). When a person stumbles upon one of these blogs or scrolls past a post that could potentially contain harmful material, it is not going to change them. The people seeking out these pages are not people that are healthy and have no problems that are associated with the issue. The traffic coming in is the people that have issues associated with the topic. These areas of the social media websites are bringing in traffic of people that have some insecurities and seeking an outlet. People that are searching for help. Without these pages, there would be nowhere for them to go. These blogs can help a person cope with their problem and potentially find helpful information that can aid them in overcoming the problem. For this reason it is necessary that these posts and pages are not taken down, but are rather filtered by the people that view them. The best way to solve the issues that these people have is with knowledge about their problem. Knowledge about the problem will help the people overcome their problems. Valuable knowledge can be obtained from these various web-based posts, groups and blogs. Such posts and groups should be left up and been given a platform where Internet users can debate and discuss the topics and provide people with useful information to help them in their time of need.

So, how do we tackle the problem of containing the boundless limits of posts on the social media websites used today? We have to allow the user to limit the content that they see. It is important that we don’t eliminate the pages that contain potentially harmful content; but rather we use these pages as helpful outlets for the people coming to them. Using these platforms as ways to help the person rather than eliminate these pages will give a better outcome. Allowing others to continue to see this content and be able to educate themselves about the good and bad associated with the content is an important part of their recovery. There are so many posts out there. In an extremely accessible world, we need to provide people with information about these issues to help them through situations where they see these posts. We shouldn’t try and acti like they don’t exist by attempting to delete them all. The best way to address them is to allow posts, blogs, and sites to be filtered by the viewer. Through a system of information provided by the user, and associated filtering levels chosen by the user, a social media environment should be perpetuated that will optimize the internet use for the benefit of those needing access to certain sites and for those desiring to be filtered from those same sites.

Works Cited:

"Follow up: Tumblr’s New Policy Against Pro-Self-Harm Blogs." Minding the Body. Eds. Katherine Cook & Martina Miles. Eugene, OR: University of Oregon Composition Program, 2013. 36-51. Print.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.