Vimeo just decided to remove content from InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones : technology

This whole thing has depressed the fuck out of me,

not because Alex Jones is getting deplatformed (yay!)

nor because dumb-as-shit SouthPark-raised Reddit contrarians are deciding to speak up for him (disappointing, but par for the course).

What’s depressing is the number of people who think of “the Internet” as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and maybe twelve other sites, and if you’ve been kicked off them then you’re “censored from the Internet.”

How can the OG generation of web users possibly hope to maintain the Internet as a free and decentralized medium when a growing majority of the current userbase accept centralization of content and audience, as not only the status quo but as the way things should be? To such an extent that they make the perverse argument that YouTube shouldn’t be able to ban people for inciting violence?

2007 (or possibly earlier) was the end of the personal Internet and the beginning of the corporate silo Internet. People from 1997 would be totally confused that everyone visits ONE SITE to participate in forum discussions. The 1997 way of doing things would be two hundred different forums for subject interests and if you wanted to find another one you would have to Ask Jeeves or use a web ring. People from 1997 would be appalled that Reddit not only doesn’t ban Stormfront, we let them run communities under our noses like redpill and the D (or gradually take them over, like tumblrinaction and cringepics). But the bitterness in our cup, we mixed for ourselves: this is the logical consequence of “wouldn’t it be great if all forums were just a click away from each other?” Why have forums when you can have THE forum? And then let’s put a corporation in charge of it, a corporation that’s too much of a fucking pussy to actually take action against evil that’s happening on their watch – except sporadically, hypocritically and only when the media spotlight burns too bright.

So, sure, the Jones defenders are half right in that the modern internet is a corruption of the original Dream of the Web: far from a decentralized “web” of users, everything now is a natural monopoly, and the corporations rent the actual function of the Internet back to us, piecemeal. We are no longer a web, but a series of watering holes.

If you want to actually reach people, you can’t be Timecube or Maddox anymore, you have to be a YouTuber (in fact, Maddox is a YouTuber now). But then, to the extent that AJ’s defenders dimly sense this reality, their idea of a solution is to force YouTube to become a public utility that lets neoNazis recruit alienated college guys based off algorithmic video recommendations that judge how much they hate womernzinvidjagems.

Even as early as 2011 I knew we were turbodoomed. Yes, we fought off SOPA, but who was bravely leading the charge? Not the denizens of cyberspace, but rather Google and Facebook. All the “Internet companies” flexing their newfound lobbyist muscle to fight off Hollywood. They mobilized us, and that’s when I knew we were fucked.

Core problem, and here I’m gonna sound like an Old, is that you can’t sustain a decentralized democratic medium when the growing user base doesn’t recognize those principles, has no commitment to them and is perfectly happy to be passive and be “broadcast at.” You also can’t sustain it when commercial interests start to get involved. The democratic internet could only exist as a community of hackers doing shit for nonprofit reasons. What is happening to the Net now, happened to print and to radio before. Radio used to be a democratic, many-to-many medium, not Rush Limbaugh pouring poison into truckers’ ears. Print used to be pamphlets and Thomas Paine, not one corporation owning all the papers named “Tribune” between Salt Lake and Baltimore. The Internet used to be about how ninjas are mammals that totally flip out, not about interrupting a movie podcast to bring you news about how much you can save with Dollar Shave Club.


PPS: while I have your attention, fuck H3H3 sideways with a shovel for trying to leap on this and play Internet Martyr. Does nobody remember what happened to them last time with the WSJ reporter?

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