Pew Report on “The Future of Free Speech, Trolls, Anonymity and Fake News Online”

I spent my lunch reading over this report (“The Future of Free Speech, Trolls, Anonymity and Fake News Online” compiled by the Pew Research Center) and have skimmed through the rest. The summary is probably a 10-15 minute read, and the major findings of the report (the first page) is probably more of a 45 min read.

The report (composed mostly of the responses from experts, or just people who felt like braindumping on the topic, see the P.S. below) is organized into 4 themes or projected futures about the future of the internet as a medium of communication, discourse, and information:

  • Theme 1: Things will stay bad because to troll is human; anonymity abets anti-social behavior; inequities drive at least some of the inflammatory dialogue; and the growing scale and complexity of internet discourse makes this difficult to defeat
  • Theme 2: Things will stay bad because tangible and intangible economic and political incentives support trolling. Participation = power and profits
  • Theme 3: Things will get better because technical and human solutions will arise as the online world splinters into segmented, controlled social zones with the help of artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Theme 4: Oversight and community moderation come with a cost. Some solutions could further change the nature of the internet because surveillance will rise; the state may regulate debate; and these changes will polarize people and limit access to information and free speech

P.S. and disclaimer: I’m actually quoted in it (click here and scroll up a bit)!