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Memo To Matt Hancock – Purges Of Information On Self Harm Don’t Work On The Internet

That the world doesn’t quite work as those who would plan it think it does is of course a commonplace – it’s why that scientific socialism doesn’t work. This is a lesson that Mike Hancock, who is at least nominally a Conservative and thus possibly a conservative, should know. Apparently he doesn’t. For he’s demanding that the social media companies purge all their pages of material promoting self harm and suicide.

If that basic theory isn’t convincing then perhaps what happened to one of his colleagues might have more influence?

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] Social media giants have been told by the Health Secretary to purge their sites of self-harm and suicide material, or face legislation. Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has this weekend written to social media bosses warning them that action is “urgently” needed to ensure they do not breach the policies of internet providers. In the letter, Mr Hancock expresses his growing concern over harmful content online, and states it is “appalling” how easy it is to access content that “leads to self harm and promotes suicide”. The letter, sent to corporate leaders at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Google and Apple, comes just days after father Ian Russell spoke out about how Instagram “helped” to kill his 14-year-old daughter, Molly. [/perfectpullquote]

The problem is as I noted some years ago elsewhere:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]What the campaign and the campaigners forget of course is that the internet tends to route around censorship. So it only took 24 hours for a Chrome extension to be released that entirely bypasses all such filters. And they also were unaware that creating an effective filter is actually quite difficult. You can’t just block every site that includes the words “sex”, or “porn” or “rape” because there are many sites that use such words but which are not pornography. Which leads to this:[/perfectpullquote] [perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] But the changes have led to internet users being denied access to a wide range of organisations including child protection charities, women’s charities and gay rights groups. Among institutions that have found themselves subject to the blocks are the British Library and the National Library of Scotland. The opt-in filters also deny access to the Parliament and Government websites and the sites of politicians, including Claire Perry, the MP who has campaigned prominently for the introduction of filters. [/perfectpullquote] [perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Given what they do with our money I suppose you can indeed decide that Parliament and the Government are forms of pornography. But it’s that blocking of Claire Perry’s site that is just so joyous. For of course the blocking has come as a result of her using that very same site to campaign in favour of the filtering. Leading to her site having a heavy usage of the words “porn”, “sex” and the like and thus being taken to be itself pornographic.[/perfectpullquote]

Any automated method of removing “self harm” or “suicide” material from the internet or social media will lead to the Samaritans being banned. Any manual method simply cannot keep up with the volume.

The Minister is demanding what cannot be achieved – we’re back to Stakhanovites and tractor production as those planned societies always do tend towards.

Wish we actually had some conservative politicians at times. Or even some who had a grasp of reality and the limits to the power of planning society.

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Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan
4 years ago

Another small step towards the state mandated white list of acceptable sites on the Internet. Doubt Continental Telegraph would be one – don’t want the proles educating themselves on what their betters get up to.

Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston
4 years ago

And if the information is removed from social media sites, it’ll just be available on other sites.

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