Is the rule that made the modern internet to blame for breaking it? Is a forum legally analogous to a bookstore that might have a dirty book in it somewhere? Who’s responsible for all this junk everyone’s been putting in the internet tubes? And if we’re heading for a massive change in the way we handle illegal content online, are we at risk of destroying the best parts of the system we’re trying to fix?
Content note: This episode contains discussion of illegal speech, including hate speech, incitement to terrorism and genocide, child sexual abuse material, and revenge porn. We will not be discussing any graphic details or closely examining the events of any specific case, but we’re putting an explicit flag on this episode just to be safe.
Featured image from this delightful news report.
For obvious reasons, all the graphics that could accompany this episode were either dry charts or massive bummers. So instead, please enjoy these vintage computer ads, news reports, and futuristic predictions about all the radical things you can find on the world wide web.
A 1984 demonstration of how to get online and send an email.
A news report on proposed laws to regulate dangers to children on the internet, including the Communications Decency Act, and a geek who makes some very good points about problems with restricting speech online.
A 90s internet explainer encouraging everyone in the family, including kids, to get online.
Another gung-ho 90s take on encouraging kids to go on the internet.
A woman’s experience with her first computer is extremely relatable, and a great example of how quickly computers went from a niche machine to a personal device normal workers were expected to be able to use.
Some freakishly accurate predictions (and some wild ones!) from 1994.
- 47 U.S. Code § 230 – Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material
Timeline of Computer History
Overview of Section 230: What It Is, Why It Was Created, and What It Has Achieved
Cubby, Inc. v. CompuServe Inc., 776 F. Supp. 135 (S.D.N.Y. 1991)
Permissible restrictions on expression
AP Explains: The rule that made the modern internet
Twitter (Encyclopedia Britannica)
Hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute as of February 2022
Facebook Demographic Statistics: How Many People Use Facebook in 2023?
The All-Connecting Thread: Internet Usage Statistics
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s Senate testimony
Myanmar’s Military Committed Genocide Against Rohingya, U.S. Says
Rohingya sue Facebook for £150bn over Myanmar genocide
Facebook allegedly amplifies hate speech & calls for violence and genocide against Indian Muslims
NEW REPORT: Anti-LGBTQ+ Grooming Narrative Surged More Than 400% on Social Media Following Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ Law, As Social Platforms Enabled Extremist Politicians and their Allies to Peddle Inflamatory, Discriminatory Rhetoric
‘Antisemitism has no place on Facebook:’ Facebook Oversight Board urged to stop anti-Jewish hate speech
The History of Online Photo Sharing: Part 1
Federal Bureau of Investigation Innocent Images National Initiative, February 2006
Tumblr was removed from Apple’s App Store over child pornography issues
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE’S REVIEW OF SECTION 230 OF THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT OF 1996
Gonzalez v. Google LLC
“Not, like, the nine greatest experts on the internet”: Justices seem leery of broad ruling on Section 230
Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh