Last nights Panaroma on the BBC posed the question “should child ‘fight videos’ on the net be policed?”. The programme highlighted a growing trend for young people posting videos featuring violence and bullying on the site. Much of the content was horrific and disturbing and it is right we are asking questions about if this is appropriate content for the internet but should we be looking to companies/websites to police everything?
I’m not convinced.
User generated content sites are great because ‘we’ choose what we want to see. If collectively we all like something it gets a better ranking so more people can see it. It’s a great viral tool too so it’s easy to spread the word if something is ‘cool’. On the same token if we are offended or disgusted by something ‘we’ can ask for it be to removed. Simple.
Except it isn’t simple.
Like anything else these sites are open to abuse and in my view posting videos of children being bullied and beaten is clearly wrong. However I don’t necessarily think we should go all out and ask for sites to moderate everything… ‘we’ the users should be doing that. The problem here is so many young people like these videos, they are incredibly popular so the tools in place to remove these aren’t being used because young people enjoy them. Therein lies the problem.
The issue here is a ‘moral’ one. Why do young people film these things? Why do they want to see them?
It is a sad reflection on our society that this kind of violence is seen as entertainment to so many. The internet doesn’t make people behave in this way, it merely gives them a forum to share things. Rather than looking at sites to ‘censor’ this content surely we should be looking at ways to educate young people that filming a fight or bullying is morally wrong. Or be able to prosecute/discipline people who are involved.
The web doesn’t make society the way it is. It is merely a window into society. Without wanting to sound melodramatic it’s society we need to police (educate!) not the internet. Censoring the content won’t prevent it from happening.