Apple removed Alex Jones’ InfoWars content from iTunes. Major social media outlets followed suit and banned Jones and InfoWars hear and there. As expected, the president didn’t like the censorship, and, interestingly, the ACLU didn’t like it.
Both are wrong. What Apple (and others) did was the right thing and did not set a dangerous precedent. Censorship is nothing new. It’s been around forever and it isn’t going anywhere, despite the dangerous trend of the internet moving from the information superhighway to the misinformation superhighway in a few decades.
So, what’s going on?
Newspapers and magazines have never printed everything they could. Ditto for radio and television. They have never broadcast everything they could. Across the board, and for as long as humans have been organized, governments, politicians, educators, publishers, media outlets, and everyone else involved in creating and distributing information, have, 1) censored information, 2) curated information to match their audience or customer.
That’s the nature of information. It gets censored or curated for many reasons. Apple ditched Alex Jones content. So did others, and for good reasons. Their reasons. Interestingly, Apple did not ban the InforWars app on the App Store. Based on Jones’ content, that doesn’t make much sense. Apple should have gone the extra step.
Why? Rubbish is rubbish.
The world is too big and too complex for any single entity to provide information distribution for every group of humanity. If so, where are the how-to manuals for child molestation? Where are the online videos for how to have sex with animals? See? Humanity draws the line. Apple drew a line in the sand and so did Facebook, YouTube, and others.
We need more lines.
But isn’t what Apple did nothing but censorship? Yes. Censorship is good, alive, and well at Apple. Censorship carries a negative connotation so how about if we call it what it really is. Curation. Apple curated its content. So did Facebook, YouTube, and others.
Curation is a good thing. It ensures that a broad swath of the customer base or user base will not be unduly offended by specific content which appeals to only a minority of viewers or readers. Publications have been curating– censoring– their content since paper became a way to record information.
Deal with it. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it should be.
What about countries such as Russia and China that restrict free speech? Is that not censorship? Is that not wrong?
From our perspective (as someone who lives in a society that may have too much free speech; look at the cyber-bullying from the president that does not get banned by Twitter despite breaking the site’s standards), perhaps so, but such regimes tend to be overthrown and replaced over time (often simply to repeat the same problems, but that’s a different issue).
What Apple did is what Apple should have done.
Megan Keller covers the topic in detail on The Hill, but I don’t agree with the ACLU’s stance.