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This Common Internet Practice Embodies Worst of the (Legal) Aspects of Internet Culture

Image from DALL-E 2

This article was originally published to Non-Monetized Together on May 7, 2023 (https://medium.com/non-monetized-together/this-common-internet-practice-embodies-most-of-the-worst-legal-aspects-of-internet-culture-3ddd45ab6a6a?source=friends_link&sk=be8461f903c8dc0430be1ccfe48dacf9)

#SocialMedia #Censorship

Hey, it’s Kevin here again, and this post today is going to be a bit different than my usual posts, since it is in point-form.

Have you ever seen a piece of media that seems like the perfect representation of something? You know, something that perfectly conveys a time, place, or attitude.

Well, I think I came up with the thing that conveys the failures of the Internet like no other. I’m talking about when people censor screen names in screen captures of publicly available web posts.

Of course, online privacy must be respected when it comes to private, deleted, or restricted-access posts. It would be dangerous and unfair for someone to be publicly identified with something that they didn’t intend the world to see.

However, this logic goes out the window when people cover up the screen names in publicly accessible posts. Despite this, it is still commonly practiced today, and many of the method’s weaknesses also happen to be in vogue with the current Internet.

Here’s a list of them:

· Missing out on the context of posts

· Toxicity (as people have more freedom to make hurtful comments if the name is not shown)

· Forgetting the human

· No citations

· Not giving individuals a voice

· Not holding people accountable for their actions

· Logical fallacy (their name is already available on the original source. You’re not undoing that by covering it up, so it’s kind of pointless)

· Judging a group by an individual member (you can’t know the person if the name is censored but sometimes you can figure out a group that they are a part of and judge that)

· Capitalizing off someone else’s work

· Removing the context from the screenshot can help push an inaccurate narrative

And in cases where people only censor the name if the original poster is not well-known, it can reinforce inequality between levels of social status.

Next time you see an image of a publicly available post with the name censored, try to remember to not let the image encourage you to behave in the ways I just listed. You can also try searching the post in quotation marks on a search engine.