Last week’s attack in New Zealand was repugnant. Even worse, the terrorist’s use of social media was representative of a new breed of horror.
We’ve lived with two decades of jihadists beheading hostages and posting the video on the Internet, but this new era of live-streamed violence is particularly troublesome. Facebook and YouTube worked feverishly to remove copies of the attack video, but they are now reporting actual numbers. Facebook counted 1.5 million attempted uploads, 1.2 million of which were blocked automatically. That still left 300,000 copies online for a period of time. The initial video was up on the site for over 30 minutes, despite having been flagged within 15 minutes of posting.
Video was supposed to be the next level of social networks. Like any technology, it was a feature that was quickly perverted. Sadly, we will never be rid of extreme and violent video content on the Internet. It’s here, and no amount of AI or curation will stop it. We need smaller cities on the Internet, not massive countries. While Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are not inherently evil, its hard to ignore the hate to which they give safe harbor.
There’s still a place where the promise of the Internet is still alive: the open web. People every day are registering their domain and setting up their own website, where they share their thoughts, ideas, and lives. This is the best of the Internet, and it represents a much brighter future for the global online community.