There’s plenty in the news today, and I am inclined to recycle some social media and blog posts I’ve made in the last couple of days.
For example, this email to my PO, and this detailed demonstration that Google and Microsoft are abusing their spam filters for political purposes.
What is perhaps most striking about the Ukrainian election issue, is how little attention has been called to it. I just looked for a text source on the story after hearing about it on Tucker Carlson’s Twitter show, and a search of Google News shows no results save for references to Tucker Carlson’s observation. Apparently it is now uncontroversial to call off elections.
My attention at the moment is focused closer to home, however. I am subscribed to a website called LowEndBox which helps keeps me apprised of the latest developments in the world of web hosting. You’ll be unsurprised to know that I am particularly interested in stories of deplatforming and the means by which the resilient overcome such challenges, and they have been very useful for this purpose.
I recently got an email from them about KiwiFarms, an online forum which has drawn some criticism for being host to “hate speech” and what is alleged to be targeted harassment. I have some history with KiwiFarms, and there is no love between us. I understand that I was made to be one of their “Lolcows” – a term they use to describe the targets of their ridicule – as I was dealing with the aftermath of my trip to Virginia in August of 2017.
There exist few services in the world that can protect a website from what are known as DDOS, or Distributed Denial of Service, attacks online. DDOS attacks use networks of hacked computers to flood a server with bogus requests until that server can no longer service regular users. They are criminal acts punishable by time in prison. While I was without Internet access, one of my neighbors was doing time for precisely this.
DDOS protection services obscure the actual address of the server being targeted, and filter traffic to that server to prevent the server from becoming overwhelmed. The most well known of these services is called CloudFlare. I use this service, and my sites would quickly cease to exist absent their protection. I have been targeted for DDOS attacks for as long as I have had my own websites, and it wasn’t long before I discovered the need for such a service.
Owing to pressure campaigns stemming from their content, KiwiFarms has been kicked off of CloudFlare and its small number of competitors. For the last two months, the site has only been able to exist on the so called “dark web” as a Tor hidden service, operating much like criminal drug markets such as the famous and long deceased “Silk Road”.
Back in 2018, I published a blog post titled “Goodbye Normie Web”, predicting that a time would arrive when the entire Internet simply operated in this way. That prediction has yet to be proven true, and there exists ample cause to doubt its inevitability. But the entire Internet need not go dark to give lend credence to the substance of what I was then saying.
All that has to happen is, a sufficient number of services are relegated to this means of communicating, that use of the service becomes a routine part of some percentage of Internet users daily lives, and it becomes integrated with normal Internet usage. Once that happens, being relegated to the dark web ceases to be a meaningful form of deplatforming. At a certain point, that seems inevitable, and the results of this will be a mixed bag.
On the one hand, dissident views become more difficult to censor, and this will be good news for people with dissident views. On the other, I predict, it will have the effect of further polluting the information environment.
I’ll gloss over for now the part of combating censorship, since that is hardly a new subject to anyone listening to me.
Polluting the information environment, is more interesting, in my view. News agencies and other sources of information have so discredited themselves in recent years that I have remarked about the downsides of this. Specifically, that it is becoming nearly impossible to form any consensus as to facts. Without such a consensus, it is impossible to debate the merits of inferences and interpretations, which have historically been the subject of good faith political discourse.
If the sources deemed most credible are relegated to anonymity, and therefore beyond the reach of legal action, discernment becomes much more difficult for information consumers. But if the legal system is abused, and law abiding people are deprived protection of the laws, then such credible sources have little choice but to be so relegated. They won’t be deplatformed ultimately, because they’ll be available and easy enough to find in the near future, but we are rapidly approaching a point where reputations are impossible to maintain, and that has grim implications for all involved.
I have more to say on this and plenty else, and I look forward to discussing it with you this and every Wednesday, at 9:30pm in our weekly members only video chat session.
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