Running a community-based site isn’t easy. Take it from us. We were among the first to try the experiment of letting people speak freely online, right here in Brattleboro twenty years ago. We could teach you a lot and save you a lot of time.
Elon Musk is going to go through a sharp learning curve., as we know from experience and Mike Masnik at TechDirt points out in a great article: “Hey Elon: Let Me Help You Speed Run The Content Moderation Learning Curve”
In it, he list stages that Musk will likely go through, from a starting point of free speech and anything goes, to a slow clamping down on the worst elements, to trying to please customers and follow laws, taking down infringing content and spam, and so on. Musk gets the added fun of running a worldwide site, so he will also be dealing with governments of other countries and their laws and languages as well. How free will his free speech platform end up?
I like this part:
Level Twenty: “Look, we’re just a freaking website. Can’t you people behave?”
Congratulations, you have completed the game…. Just kidding! It never ends. It only gets worse, and you will make mistakes, and people will get mad and personally blame you and insist that you are deliberately trying to “censor” their brilliant ideas, and advertisers will get mad, and politicians will pressure you into doing their bidding, and the media will criticize every mistake. You own a social network. Isn’t it fun?
Already he is getting pushback from uneasy advertisers, users, and even the people who were cheering him on expecting the immediate return of banned accounts. It’s been a bit over a week.
It isn’t easy pleasing everyone. In fact, it is impossible. Even on a small scale in a small town, our moderation abilities were pushed to the limits and beyond. There are things we might have done differently knowing what we know now, but we were all charting new territory together.
Musk is actually a good example of one reason we created iBrattleboro – so that local folks would have a local alternative to the billionaires and corporations trying to control all online interactions. It’s a safety valve, always ticking away, ready for you at any time. And we have no interest in firing half the staff.