My "Two Minutes of Hate" would PROTECT Human Rights


Should INSTANTANEOUS AMPLIFICATION of speech be a Human Right? Why?

My "Two Minutes of Hate" would PROTECT Human Rights /img/two-minutes-hate.jpg

Earlier today, while explaining my proposal to “ration” air time on social media for top influencers, I tweeted:

Rationing tweets does NOT mean rationing CONTENT, or freedom! One could write an “index” post every day on her blog, linking to 10, 50… more posts on same blog, then tweet the index only. THAT is the point: NO to #censorship of any kind, ONLY to frenzy.

That explanation prompted this critique:

“Relabeling term from “#censorship” to “indexing” is a newsspeak. Provides a rationale for justifying censorship. Too many of digital “activists” are learned only in the language of computer programming, but not in language of #HumanRights

What an “index post” really is

I answered that, “with all respect, I really suspect that you have TOTALLY misunderstood my tweet. What I am saying is:”

  1. Every day, you write how many posts you want on your blog, saying whatever you want
  2. right after that, you write one more post, that is just an index of those
  3. THEN, you post on twitter, Facebook, everywhere… the link to that “index post”, where everybody can read all you wrote

It may be wrong. It may not work. But how this can be called #censorship, or rationale for justifying it, is really beyond me. So, I concluded, please DO read the actual proposal I was tweeting about, and if you still find anything that looks like #censorship to you, come back QUOTING it, and explaining why and how it would be so.

Further critiques:

This is the answer I got to that clarification of mine:

Tweet 1: You provided a link about indexes at your writing. You don’t use the term there. Perhaps you want to clarify your own article. Regardless, you start off with concept of what others must be “forced to” do. However, you describe it, it is anti-#HumanRights.

Tweet 2: you advocate what others must be “required by law” to allow Internet #FreedomOfExpression, & calling for Internet #FreeSpeech with “daily time caps, inversely proportional to one’s visibility.” You miss the point of Universal Declaration of #HumanRights #Article19.

Tweet 3: You have conflated 2 totally different concepts: “freedom”/“equality” vs “fairness.” We have #HumanRights on freedom, equality, expression. You want to redefine this for “fair” distribution of #FreedomOfExpression in terms of “influence.” Influence/Power are #political concepts

My answer

My "Two Minutes of Hate" would PROTECT Human Rights /img/spiderman-great-power.jpg

First, let’s put the “index is newsspeak for censorship” thing to rest. It is absolutely evident, by reading those tweets of mine, that in them “index” only means: “list of items (such as topics or names) treated in a printed work that gives for each item the page number where it may be found”. That’s it. NO “relabeling censorship to indexing” there, no way. Please re-read the “What an index post really is” paragraph. There is nothing else to clarify about Tweet 1, so let’s move to the other two.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes:”

  1. freedom to hold opinions without interference and
  2. to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

My proposal to decrease the AMPLIFICATION, and INFLUENCE of toxic discourses made on social media may be wrong. It may be unfeasible. But one thing that is sure beyond doubt is that would not limit at all none of those two freedoms.

Does Article 19 give anyone the right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, without consequence?

If, for whatever reason, I had only seen and answered those tweets three days later, would this have limited in any way the freedom of speech of their author, or mine?

THIS is all I am talking about

What I say is only that, if one has something like one million or more of followers, that is a concrete power to move masses, he or she will lose no freedom of speech whatsoever if he or she can:

  • (a) post everything they want, whenever they want, on their own website (which, in case you missed it, could still send notifications practically in real time via advanced protocols like RSS), but…
  • (b) announce that same content to those masses only, say, during twenty minutes every day.

Free Speech is a human right. No question here. Free instantaneous amplification of speech is not, it never was, and that’s OK, because it is a very different thing. The more we fail to acknowledge this, the more space we leave for actual censorship to increase.

Look at points (a) and (b) again. They are exactly the same situation in which every chief of government, pop star and VIP worldwide was before the Internet, when they could “reach the masses” only in the moments, hours or one day later, when newspapers, or evening TV news, would broadcast their messages: did that limit in any way the freedom of speech of those people, or of those who listened to them? Was that censorship, or any other violation of their human rights?

That’s all I have to say about Tweet 2. At this point, all I can add about Tweet 3 is this:

  • “Influence/Power are #political concepts”? Yes, of course they are. And that’s exactly why proposals like mine, about how to deploy them online without any censorship or other actual attack to Free Speech, are important
  • I do not “want to redefine this for “fair” distribution of #FreedomOfExpression in terms of “influence.”

What I propose is, exactly to protect freedom of expression and deflate the reall calls for censorship out there, to redefine “in terms of influence” one, and only one other thing: distribution of “air time”, that is of instantaneous amplification. If that wasn’t clear enough in the original post, thanks for the opportunity to re-explain it. But if such distribution is a sin, yes, I am guilty of that.

Hey, my own right to receive information and ideas was violated!

Update 2021/02/03, 7.10pm GMT +1: just joking but… after spending two hours to craft this response in the most readable way, I went back to Twitter to tell the author of those critiques:

“your arguments deserved an answer more articulate and readable than a series of tweets, so I answered them here”

And all I got was this:

My "Two Minutes of Hate" would PROTECT Human Rights /img/blocked-by-real-human-rights.jpg

Funny. But these two hours may save me time the next time I come across similar critiques, so that’s fine.

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