Internet Hate Machine

A series of articles on CNet last week really caught my attention.1 The flagship article sets the stage.

You can’t miss the rise of hate, racism and the neo-Nazi movement on the internet. But somehow, The New York Times did. A Saturday profile of a Nazi sympathizer drew widespread criticism for giving Tony Hovater, 29, an unchallenged platform for sharing his views.

Here’s the Brutal Reality of Online Hate

This Lawsuit Could Shut Internet Nazis Down

How to Scrub Hate Off Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet

Gamergate to Trump: How Video Game Culture Blew Everything Up

“Hate comes from everywhere on the spectrum, it’s not exclusively owned by one party,” Heller said. “The theme with all of them was that they said, ‘I didn’t realize what I wrote affected a real person.'”

This is the weakest defense I can imagine. Taking action against someone and claiming that you didn’t know they were a real person, makes you a sociopath. I seriously doubt that there are so many sociopaths. My guess is that they never imagined that there would be consequences for their actions. Then someone showed up on their door step.

As someone that commutes regularly, I see similar behavior on a much more traditional platform, the highways. Once someone is isolated behind their wheel they disconnect from the rest of humanity around them. It’s self propagating too. Like a plague it spreads on contact. One bad actor makes the next isolated person feel like the only good defense is a good offense, and so on. I don’t think we can change this so we have to change the technology and laws to account for it.

  1. It’s also startling when CNet has original and well researched content. This series is very good and they should be proud. ↩︎